Commerce sees ups and downs

Fiscal 2002 budget

The Commerce Department was on the receiving end of some positive budget marks, however, some programs—such as the Advanced Technology Program—did not fare so well.

With the 2000 census barely over, the Census Bureau must begin planning in earnest for the 2010 census. The fiscal 2002 budget proposal President Bush released Monday requested $65 million to establish an infrastructure that enables the bureau to begin testing major elements of an early census design. For instance, the bureau will restructure the systems that contain maps, street and address information to incorporate Global Positioning System technology to improve the accuracy of data.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration programs fared well. The president asked for funding for the following programs at the same level as in fiscal 2001:

$8 million for the Next Generation Weather Radar program. $16 million for the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System, which integrates radar, satellite and sensor data on one workstation. $20 million for the central administrative management system. $15 million for the central computer upgrade. Other NOAA programs did better than last year. The funding request for the program to merge defense and civilian weather satellite programs is $157 million, up from $73 million. The geostationary and polar orbiting satellite programs would get a boost: At $293 million, the request for the geostationary program is $3 million more than in fiscal 2001, and the polar program's $146 million would be a $9 million increase.

The president's budget also proposes a new center: the NOAA-NASA Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation. On the down side, the president's budget proposes suspending funding in fiscal 2002 for the Advanced Technology Program, which provides matching grants to help fund innovative and risky technology programs in industry. Previous awards made under the program would be fulfilled via a $70 million fund created primarily from carry-over money. Commerce must evaluate the program to see if "ATP subsidies to U.S. industry are still merited," according to the budget document.

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