(Washington, DC) – The U.S. House of Representatives took another key step in implementing the Democratic Innovation Agenda today by overwhelmingly approving legislation to reauthorize the competitiveness and innovation initiatives of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

H.R. 1868, the Technology Innovation and Manufacturing Stimulation Act of 2007, is the first full reauthorization of the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) since 1992. It authorizes $2.5 billion for NIST for fiscal years 2008-2010. The House Science & Technology Committee reported the bill last week.

Since its creation more than 100 years ago, NIST has worked at the cutting edge of new technology development, producing the world’s first computer to rely on solid-state electronics and developing standards and measurements for products ranging from ATM’s and atomic clocks to mammograms and semiconductors.

“The pace of technology keeps accelerating – particularly in areas such as biofuels, pharmaceutical biologics and healthcare IT.  NIST has an important role to play in the adoption of these technologies through the creation of standards and new measurement technologies,” said Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).

Three major elements of H.R. 1868 are the funding of NIST labs, increased support for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and replacing the Advanced Technology Program with the updated and improved Technology Innovation Program.

H.R. 1868 would set funding for the NIST labs on a 10-year path to doubling and fund much-needed physical upgrades for laboratory facilities.

The legislation also fully funds the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a successful public/private partnership that assists small- and medium-sized manufacturers in maintaining competitiveness by developing and implementing new manufacturing processes and technologies. The bill authorizes a yearly increase of 8 percent for MEP.

H.R. 1868 establishes the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) which will provide cost-shared funds to small high-tech, entrepreneurial firms to create new technologies that will provide jobs for the next generation of our workforce.

“This legislation means the robust programs at NIST will continue to support U.S. industry and improve our quality of life,” said Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Chairman David Wu (D-OR), who introduced the bill. “For over 100 years, NIST has made important contributions to public safety, industrial competitiveness, and economic growth through standards and measurements. This ensures that NIST will continue to be a key part of American innovation in the next 100 years.”

Under H.R. 1868, NIST would also be required to develop a three-year plan for all programmatic activities, including NIST research, laboratory construction, and the industrial technology programs. NIST’s industry-based advisory committee would also be required to publicly comment on this plan.

BACKGROUND: Founded in 1901, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has developed and promoted measurement, standards and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade and improve quality of life. NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Commerce Department’s Technology Administration.