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Opening Statement of Ranking Member Jim Baird at Research & Technology Subcommittee Hearing on NIST Reauthorization

Mar 10, 2020
Opening Statement
Reauthorization of the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Good morning Chairwoman Stevens.  Thank you for convening today’s hearing to examine the major research activities being supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in order to inform this Committee’s reauthorization of the Institute.

I would also like to thank Director Copan for being here this morning.  I am looking forward to hearing your testimony.

Since 1901, NIST has been at the forefront of setting the standards of weight and measures for the United States, and the world. Almost every federal agency and U.S. industry sector uses the standards, measurements, and certification services that NIST labs provide.  This work is fundamental to our economy and national security.

As new technologies develop and evolve, NIST’s services are critical. NIST plays a key role in the development of the industries of the future, including Artificial Intelligence, 5-G networks, quantum computing, and advanced manufacturing. In the last year, NIST has been a key contributor in developing a national strategy for AI, participating in interagency coordination and building the foundation for trustworthy AI systems. As global competition grows, it is essential that the U.S. invest in the research and development programs that focus on these critical technologies.

I was pleased to see that the President’s budget request prioritizes investments in these key areas, including nearly doubling NIST’s investments in AI. These investments will launch discoveries and advances that will significantly affect America’s economy in the coming decades. I look forward to hearing more about them today.

I am proud to have recently introduced H.R. 6145, the Industries of the Future Act with Representative Foster, Ranking Member Lucas, and Chairwoman Stevens. H.R. 6145 would require the executive branch, including NIST, to develop a plan to double the baseline investments in industries of the future by 2022. It would also require a plan to increase civilian spending on future industries to $10 billion by fiscal year 2025.

Our country needs to make the necessary investments in industries like AI, quantum, advanced manufacturing so our workers can continue to lead in the jobs of the future.

In January, I cosponsored H.R. 5685, the Securing American Leadership in Science and Technology Act, which provides a long-term strategy for investment in basic research to combat threats to American competitiveness. H.R. 5685 authorizes a doubling of fundamental research activities supported through NIST’s labs over the next ten years, to drive the next generation of technological breakthroughs. It provides NIST with the mechanisms to address its crippling facilities maintenance backlog and provides funding for the infrastructure needed to conduct cutting-edge science. Lastly, it capitalizes on the great work that NIST did in developing a Return on Investment  Green Paper and provides some technology transfer reform in order to enhance our nation’s return on investment of federally funded research.

It is my hope that as this Committee moves forward in considering a reauthorization of NIST, it will take some time to consider the proposals included in both H.R. 5685 and H.R. 6145. This Committee has a long history of supporting NIST’s work and I believe there are many provisions that can have bipartisan support within this committee.

I again would like to thank you, Dr. Copan, for being here this morning and I yield back the balance of my time.

116th Congress