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Small Wonders, Endless Frontiers: A Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative
the Bush administration’s FY 2002 budget included a request for $485 million for the NNI, almost a 15 percent increase over FY 2001, Congress approved an estimated $604.9 million, a 30 percent increase over FY 2001 (see Table 2.1). However, according to some NSET representatives, 25 to 30 percent of the $140 million increase can be attributed to the reclassification or reallocation of existing agency research expenditures into the NNI program. Three agencies, NSF, DOD, and NASA, accounted for the majority of additional federal expenditures for the NNI in FY 2002. Since FY 1999, federal support for the NNI has received average annual increases of 33 percent.
The FY 2002 Department of Veterans Affairs subcommittee appropriations bill (which contains annual appropriations for the NSF, NASA, EPA, and other federal agencies) noted the Senate Appropriations Committee’s strong support for “the interagency nanoscience and technology initiative.” The report’s language requests that OSTP and the NSET update the FY 2001 NNI Implementation Plan as a supplemental report to the President’s FY 2003 budget request. The Appropriations Committee specifically requested that the report include a detailed discussion on “agency efforts to transfer nanotechnology research efforts into applications.”7 It requested an update of the NNI implementation plan because the plan had not been significantly revised since 1999. Further, the Appropriations Committee wanted to know if OSTP and NSET representatives are working together to establish mechanisms that will enhance the transfer of NNI research results from the laboratory into commercial applications.
The NNI implementation plan, as currently drafted, incorporates a series of primary themes that are described in this report and highlights a number of Grand Challenges facing the successful development and deployment of nanoscale science and technology in general and the NNI in particular. The existing Grand Challenges (11 in number in the FY 2001 NNI summary) are meant to spur the development required to meet the goal of economic growth through nanotechnology and to form a basis for examining program support for specific initiatives.
For FY 2003, the Bush administration has designated the NNI as a multiagency research initiative that will benefit from improved coordination across multiple agencies. As indicated in Table 2.1 and mentioned previously, the administration has proposed $709.9 million for the NNI, a 17 percent increase over the FY 2002 estimated level of $604.9 million. Three agencies—DOE, DOD, and NSF—account for over 90 percent of the proposed FY 2003 increase. However, according to NSET officials, the NSF and the NIH are the only agencies whose FY 2003 increases included new funding.
For FY 2003 the initiative will continue to focus on fundamental nanoscale science and technology research, centers and networks of excellence, and support of new research infrastructure. The NSET has approved the creation of a twelfth Grand Challenge, which will focus on homeland defense: Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Explosive (CBRE) Detection and Protection.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INITIATIVE
The NNI is built around five funding themes distributed among the agencies currently funding nanoscale science and technology research.8 These themes are described below, with estimated FY 2002 funding and requested increases for FY 2003. Table 2.2 details the distribution of funds between these five themes for FY 2001.
• Long-term fundamental nanoscience and engineering research ($201 million, +$31 million). Long-term basic nanoscience and engineering research will focus on fundamental understanding and synthesis of nanometer-size building blocks aimed at potential breakthroughs in areas such as materials and manufacturing, nanoelectronics, medicine and health care, environment and energy, the chemical and pharmaceuticals industries, biotechnology and agriculture, computation and information technology, and national security. This investment is intended to provide sustained support for individual investigators and small groups doing fundamental research, to promote university-industryfederal laboratory partnerships, and to foster interagency collaboration.
• Grand Challenges ($180 million, +$24 million). The second theme includes support for interdisciplinary research and education teams, including centers and networks, that work on key long-term objectives.
Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2002. S. 1216, Senate Report 107-43, page 89.
NNI: Leading to the Next Industrial Revolution: The Initiative and Its Implementation Plan, NSTC, July 2000.