President Signs $3.7 Billion Nanotechnology Research Bill

Article excerpt

President Bush on December 3 signed a bill that would authorize the spending of almost $3.7 billion on nanotechnology R & D in five agencies over four years. The 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act passed the House and Senate during the week of November 17th.

The new spending will be shared by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Environmental Protection Agency. NSF and DOE will be the primary R & D sponsors, with spending of $1.73 billion and $1.46 billion, respectively. Funding is not scheduled to begin until fiscal year 2005. Management of the program will be coordinated through the National Science and Technology Council, with technical and administrative support from staff within a newly created National Nanotechnology Coordination Office.

A point of contention between the House and Senate was the composition of an external advisory committee to provide additional oversight and assessment of the progress of the research programs. The bill calls for the president to establish or designate a National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel, but follows the House intent of providing the administration with greater flexibility in its composition. The provision, however, strongly emphasizes that panel members should come primarily from academia and that the president should consider recommendations from the scientific community and state and local governments. …