Good morning, and welcome to NIST.
We're grateful for your attendance here today and appreciate that you are each contributing your valuable time and effort to this committee.
While NIST, as the lead agency for NEHRP, is organizing and hosting the meeting, your participation serves all four NEHRP agencies (FEMA, NSF, and USGS, in addition to NIST), and, indeed, the Nation.
NIST and our NEHRP partners value and depend upon the thoughtful and objective advice that your committee provides. We rely on the independent review of thought-leaders from the many disciplines encompassed within the wide variety of activities that are covered by the earthquake professional community in support of NEHRP.
Let me turn briefly to a few updates for you.
Here at NIST, since your meeting in Golden [Colo.] last August, we have made some permanent appointments that are directly relevant to NEHRP and your committee. I am pleased to tell you that Howard Harary is now the permanent director of our Engineering Laboratory, and that Jason Averill is now the permanent chief of the Materials and Structural Systems Division of the Engineering Laboratory.
Both Howard and Jason met with you in Golden, but they were in "acting" capacities then. Howard and Jason will provide outstanding leadership for the NEHRP work here at NIST that I am sure will also be very positive for the entire program. In particular, Howard will act as the Designated Federal Officer, DFO, for this committee.
I am also pleased to report that the President's FY16 Budget Request includes an additional $10 million for disaster resilience work. The President's budget request is now in the hands of Congress, and we look forward to a positive outcome during the FY16 budget discussions.
Of most interest to this committee, the initiative funds would allow NIST to do additional work with stakeholders to improve building codes, standards, and practices and to expand efforts related to construction of earthquake-resilient lifelines and enhanced earthquake performance of existing buildings.
I know that you have a full agenda, and I want you to be able to spend as much time as possible on the work at hand.
As a closing comment, I invite you to provide your input to the NEHRP agencies on our relative priorities for research and implementation activities, within the budgets that we have reported over the past few years. Given the likely limitations on program budget growth, having knowledge of your expert opinions about our priorities would be very helpful to us in our planning.
On behalf of NEHRP and the nation, I want to sincerely thank you for your service on this committee. Few federal advisory committees can say that their work can potentially save lives.
I look forward to getting your input, feedback, and advice.