A NIST program that funds risky, emerging technology continued on its rocky path when a House appropriations subcommittee voted to terminate its funding
A National Institute of Standards and Technology program that funds risky,
emerging technology continued on its rocky path this week when a House appropriations
subcommittee voted to terminate its funding.
NIST's Advanced Technology Program was funded at $143 million in fiscal
2000, and the president had requested $198.6 million for fiscal 2001.
Advocates for the program say ATP funds promising research and development
projects that might otherwise have never made it past the drawing board.
Critics, however, question whether the government, rather than industry,
should be deciding which technology has promise and which does not.
The battle over ATP is not new. During last year's budget process, the House
allocated no money to the program, but the Senate did. The appropriations
bill that emerged out of the House-Senate conference and eventually signed
by President Clinton maintained funding for ATP.
"I presume that while it starts out with some drama and rockiness, it will
have a happy ending," said Alan Balutis, director of ATP at NIST. "We've
seen the benefits to the nation of what America's technologic leadership
has meant to our economic development and growth and stability. I think
it's extremely short-sighted to propose abolition of the program or suggest
that the venture capital community can meet this need."
"We still have a long way to go" in the appropriations process, a NIST spokesman
The House appropriations committee and the Senate appropriations subcommittee
this week are expected to mark up the fiscal 2001 bill that would fund the
Commerce, Justice and State Departments, which includes ATP.
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