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Description of the National Nanotechnology Initiative

Attempts to coordinate federal work on the nanoscale began in November 1996, when staff from several agencies decided to meet regularly to discuss their plans and programs in nanoscience and nanotechnology. This group continued informally until September of 1998, when it was designated the Interagency Working Group on NanoScience, Engineering, and Technology (IWGN) under the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).1

In its 2001 budget submission to Congress, the Clinton adminstration raised nanotechnology to the level of a federal initiative. The 2001 budget called for total funding for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) of $495 million, $422 million of which was ultimately granted by Congress, an increase of $151 million over funding in this area in FY2000.

Once the initiative was realized, the IWGN was disbanded and the NSTC Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET) was established. NSET is responsible for coordinating the federal government’s nanoscale research and development programs. NSET membership includes representatives of departments and agencies currently involved in the NNI, departments and agencies planning on participating in the NNI, and White House officials. Currently represented on NSET are the Departments of Defense (DOD), Energy (DOE), Justice (DOJ), Transportation, Agriculture, and State; the Treasury Department; the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); the National Institutes of Health (NIH); the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); the National Science Foundation (NSF); the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the Central Intelligence Agency; and three White House offices (the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and OSTP).

The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) has been established to serve as the secretariat to the NSET, providing day-to-day technical and administrative support. The NNCO supports the NSET in its preparation of multiagency planning, budget, and assessment documents and serves as a point of contact on federal nanotechnology activities.

The NNI is built around five funding themes distributed among the agencies currently funding nanotechnology research. These are given below with their proposed 2002 funding level:2

  1. Long-term fundamental research ($177 million [+$32 million]),

  2. Grand challenges ($161.4 million [+$35.4 million]),

  3. Establishing centers and networks of excellence ($79 million [+$12 million]),

  4. Creation of a research infrastructure ($84 million [+$1.6 million]), and

  5. Societal and educational implications ($17.5 million [+$1.5 million]).

1  

Presentation by M.Roco at the National Academy of Sciences, August 16, 2001.

2  

Figures in brackets indicate proposed change from FY2001 funding.



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Preliminary Comments, Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative 1 Description of the National Nanotechnology Initiative Attempts to coordinate federal work on the nanoscale began in November 1996, when staff from several agencies decided to meet regularly to discuss their plans and programs in nanoscience and nanotechnology. This group continued informally until September of 1998, when it was designated the Interagency Working Group on NanoScience, Engineering, and Technology (IWGN) under the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).1 In its 2001 budget submission to Congress, the Clinton adminstration raised nanotechnology to the level of a federal initiative. The 2001 budget called for total funding for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) of $495 million, $422 million of which was ultimately granted by Congress, an increase of $151 million over funding in this area in FY2000. Once the initiative was realized, the IWGN was disbanded and the NSTC Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET) was established. NSET is responsible for coordinating the federal government’s nanoscale research and development programs. NSET membership includes representatives of departments and agencies currently involved in the NNI, departments and agencies planning on participating in the NNI, and White House officials. Currently represented on NSET are the Departments of Defense (DOD), Energy (DOE), Justice (DOJ), Transportation, Agriculture, and State; the Treasury Department; the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); the National Institutes of Health (NIH); the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); the National Science Foundation (NSF); the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the Central Intelligence Agency; and three White House offices (the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and OSTP). The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) has been established to serve as the secretariat to the NSET, providing day-to-day technical and administrative support. The NNCO supports the NSET in its preparation of multiagency planning, budget, and assessment documents and serves as a point of contact on federal nanotechnology activities. The NNI is built around five funding themes distributed among the agencies currently funding nanotechnology research. These are given below with their proposed 2002 funding level:2 Long-term fundamental research ($177 million [+$32 million]), Grand challenges ($161.4 million [+$35.4 million]), Establishing centers and networks of excellence ($79 million [+$12 million]), Creation of a research infrastructure ($84 million [+$1.6 million]), and Societal and educational implications ($17.5 million [+$1.5 million]). 1   Presentation by M.Roco at the National Academy of Sciences, August 16, 2001. 2   Figures in brackets indicate proposed change from FY2001 funding.

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Preliminary Comments, Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative More details on these five themes and the organization of the initiative can be found in the NNI implementation plan.3 The Bush administration’s FY2002 budget included a $485 million request for the NNI. Since that budget proposal was released, four agencies have revised their FY2002 estimates of nanoscience and nanotechnology funding,4 resulting in an estimated $518.9 million of proposed funding for nanoscale research, an increase of 23 percent over FY2001. Table 1.1 details estimated agency funding for nanotechnology from 1999 to the present.5 TABLE 1.1 Estimated Funding for Nanotechnology, FY2002 (millions of dollars)a   FY1999 FY2000 FY2001 Estimate FY2002 Request NSF 85 97 150 174 DOD 70 70 110 133 DOE 58 58 93 97 NIH 21 32 39 45 NASA 5 5 20 22 (46) DOC (NIST) 16 8 10 14 (17.5) EPA   (5.0) (5) DOJ   (1) (1.4) NNI Total 255 270 422 485 (518.9)b aFunding for the six other agencies and departments (State, Transportation, Treasury, CIA, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Agriculture) that are also joining the NNI is not yet available. bThe $518.9 million is an estimate based on revisions received from four agencies after the release of the proposed budget. These revisions are shown in parentheses. According to the NNI implementation plan, each agency invests in projects that support its own mission and retains control over how it will allocate resources against its NNI proposals based on the availability of funding. Each agency evaluates its own NNI 3   National Science and Technology Council, Committee on Technology, Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology. 2000. National Nanotechnology Initiative: The Initiative and Its Implementation Plan, Washington, D.C., July. 4   The committee understands these revised estimates to reflect a combination of (1) a more complete accounting for ongoing programs that fall under the definition of nanoscale research and (2) internal redirection of agency funds. 5   For the purposes of determining which programs are to be included in the tally of nanotechnology funding, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has developed a definition of nanotechnology to guide federal agencies in the reporting of their respective research efforts. Contained in Circular A-11, 1465–xx, NNI research activities are defined as follows: Research and technology development at the atomic, molecular, or macromolecular levels, in the length scale of approximately 1–100 nanometer range, to provide a fundamental understanding of phenomena and materials properties at the nanoscale and to model, create, characterize, manipulate, and use structures, devices, and systems that have novel properties and functions because of their small or intermediate size. The novel and differentiating properties and function are developed at a critical length scale of matter typically under 100 nanometers. Nanotechnology research and development includes integration of nanoscale structure into larger material components, systems, and architectures. Within these larger scale assemblies, the control and construction of their structures and components devices remains at the nanometer scale.

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Preliminary Comments, Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative research activities according to its Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) procedures. NNI is coordinated through NSET activities, direct interactions among program officers from the participating agencies, periodic management meetings and program reviews, and joint scientific and engineering workshops.