Distributed bv Pennv Hill Press
Department of Commerce
Science and Technology Programs:
Review of Dismantling Proposals in
the 104th Congress
Lennard G. Kmger, Coordinator
Specialist in Science and Technology
Science Policy Research Division
Updated December 5, 1996
DEPARTmNT OF COMMERCE
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROG
REVIEW OF DISMANTLING PROPOSALS IN THE
Science and technology (S&T) related agencies and programs constitute a major
portion of the Department of Commerce (DOC) budget. Combined funding for the S&T
agencies comprises 69% of the total DOC budget ($2.568 billion out of a total FY1997
DOC budget of $3.720 billion). These S&T agencies and programs include: the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the National Institute of
Standards and Technology (NIST); the National Telecommunications Information
Administration (NTIA); the Technology Administration (TA); the Office of Air and
Space Commercialization (OASC); and the National Technical Information Service
In the 104th Congress, several legislative initiatives sought to eliminate the
Department of Commerce, thereby affecting many DOC S&T agencies, activities, and
programs. Two DOC elimination bills were passed by the House (in October and
November of 19951, but were not passed by the Senate. DOC dismantling proposals
would have: (1)eliminated some NOAA functions (such as selected research programs
and the NOAA Corps), transferred other functions (such as mapping and charting), and
consolidated remaining functions into a new independent agency, the National
Scientific, Oceanic, and Atmospheric Administration (NSOAA); (2) eliminated NIST's
Advanced Technology Program and Manufacturing Extension Partnership, while
retaining NIST core standards functions as part of NSOAA; (3) terminated NTIA grant
programs, while transferring most remaining functions to the USTR; (4) terminated the
Technology Administration; (5) privatized NTIS; and (6) transferred DOC'S space
These proposals were based on the belief that the federa1 government should not
fund science and technology which is more appropriately sponsored by the private
sector, that the federal bureaucracy must be streamlined, and that the deficit must be
reduced to achieve a balanced budget. On the other hand, opponents of DOC
dismantling argued that government should support technologies which are critical to
U.S. competitiveness, and that eliminating DOC and transferring or consolidating
remaining programs would be needlessly expensive and disruptive.
Many of the objectives of dismantling proposals were pursued by Congress during
the appropriations process. While none of the DOC S&T agencies or programs were
eliminated in FY1996, most received significant cuts in funding from FYI995 levels
(averaging about 7% overall). For FY1997, the Administration and Congress disagreed
over further cuts for DOC S&T programs. The final FYI997 appropriation as set forth
in the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 104-208) provides an overall
increase of 1% over FYI996 levels for these programs. To the extent that DOC
dismantlinglegislation resurfaces in the 105th Congress, budget disagreements between
Congress and the President, coupled with the Administration's strong opposition to all
DOC dismantling proposals, suggest an uncertain fate for S&T programs in the
Department of Commerce.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
BACKGROUND . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
DOC Dismantling Legislation in the 104th Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADlMINISTRATION . . . . . . . 4
Proposals to Reorganize NOAA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
The Chrysler Bill (H.R. 1756) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Roth Proposal (S. 929. amended) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Budget Reconciliation (H.R. 2491) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
The Department of Commerce Dismantling Act (H.R. 2586) . . . . . . . 8
Department of Commerce Response to the Dismantlement of NOAA . . . 9
Commerce. State. and Justice Appropriations and NOAA . . . . . . . . . . . 11
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STAWDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY . . . . . . . 13
DOC Dismantling Proposals: Implications for NIST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION
ADMINISTRATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Setting and Implementing Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Federal Spectrum Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Grantsprogram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8
Effects of DOC Dismantling Proposals and Budget Issues . . . . . . . . . . . 19
PolicyIssues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
TECHNOLOGY ADMINISTRATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Evolution of the Office of Technology Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Debate Over Elimination of the Technology Administration . . . . . . . . . 25
OFFICE OF AIR AND SPACE COMMERCIALIZATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
NATIONAL TECHNICAL INFORMATION SERVICE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS:
REVIEW OF DISMANTLING PROPOSALS IN THE
Science and technology (S&T) related agencies and programs constitute a major
portion of the Department of Commerce (DOC) budget. Combined funding for S&T
agencies comprises 69% of the total DOC budget ($2.568 billion out of a total FYI997
DOC budget of $3.720 billion). These S&T agencies and programs include:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOA.4) -- provides scientific,
technical, and management expertise to promote safe and efficient marine and air
navigation; assess the health of coastal and marine resources; monitor and predict the
coastal, ocean, and global environments (inchding weather forecasting); and protect and
manage the Nation's coastal resources.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) -- assists industry in
developing technology to improve product quality, modernize manufacturing processes,
ensure product reliability, and facilitate rapid commercialization of products based on
new scientific discoveries.
National Telecommunications Information Administration OVTIA) -- advises the
President on domestic and international telecommunications policy, manages the federal
government's use of the radio frequency spectrum, provides grants for
telecommunications infrastructure development, and performs research in
Technology Administration -- includes NIST, NTIA and the Office of Technology
Policy, which advocates integrated policies that seek to maximize the impact of
technology on economic growth, conducts technology development and deployment
programs, and disseminates technological information.
Ofice ofAir and Space Commercialization (OASC) -- works with the private sector,
other federal agencies, state, and other governmental entities to develop national
policies with respect to the commercial use of space.
National Technical Information Service (NTIS) -- operates a revolving fund for
payment of all expenses incurred in performing activities, including the acquisition and
public sale of domestic and foreign federally funded research, development, and
engineering reports and associated business information.
Table I shows recent and current budgets of DOC S&T agencies and programs.
Many of the objectives of dismantling proposals (e.g. the termination or scaling down
of certain DOC programs) were pursued during the FY1996 and FY1997 appropriations
processes. While none of the DOC S&T agencies or programs were eliminated in
FY1996, most received significant cuts in funding from FYI995 levels. The total
reduction in funding DOC S&T programs between FYI995 and FYI996 was about 7%.
For FY1997, the Administration requested an increase of 20% for these programs, as
The Commerce, State, and Judiciary FYI997
compared to FYI996 levels.
appropriations bill (H.R. 3814, H.Rept. 104-6761,passed by the House on July 24,1996,
would have decreased appropriations for these programs by 9% from FY1996 levels.
Levels recommended by the Senate Appropriations Committee (S.Rept. 104-3531would
have decreased these appropriations by 2%. However, the final FY1997 appropriation
as set forth in the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 104-208) provides
an increase of 1% over FY1996 levels for DOC S&T programs.
Table I: FY1995--1997 Appropriations, DOC S&TAgencies ($ millions)
INTIS operates a revolving fund for the payment of all expenses incurred in performing its
DOC Dismantling Legislation in the 104th Congress2
The Department of Commerce Dismantling Act of 1995 (H.R. 1756)was introduced
by Representative Chrysler on June 7, 1995. A virtually identical bill, S. 929, was
introduced by Senator Abraham on June 15, 1995. Since that time, the legislation has
undergone numerous revisions as various hearings and mark-ups were held by
committees in the House and Senate. In general, the Senate proved more hesitant than
the House to proceed with DOC dismantling legislation. In 1995, the House passed two
pieces of legislation (the budget reconciliation and debt limit extension bills) which
contained DOC dismantling provisions. In both cases, the Senate removed the DOC
dismantling provisions from the bills.
In the Senate, the Committee on Governmental Affairs reported out a substitute
amendment to S. 929 on October 20,1995 (S. Rept. 104-1641, The bill remained on the
Senate Legislative Calendar for the duration of the 104th Congress. In the House, 11
committees having jurisdiction over various DOC programs considered H.R. 1756;
subsequently, the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee reported out
DOC dismantling legislation that was included as Title XVII of the House reconciliation
bill, H.R. 2491. The bill was passed by the House on October 26, 1995; however,
dismantling provisions were not included in the Senate bill, and were subsequently
dropped by the conference report, which was ultimately vetoed by the President.
A similar but slightly modified version of the dismantling provision was approved
by the House on November 9, 1995 as Title I1 of the Temporary Public Debt Limit
Increase bill, H.R. 2586 (also not included by the Senate, dropped from the conference
report, and ultimately vetoed by the President). The legislation would have:
terminated various NOAA research programs and the NOAA Corps;
transferred NOAA aeronautical mapping and charting responsibilities to the
Defense Mapping Agency, coastal non-point pollution control responsibilities
to the Environmental Protection Agency, and mapping, charting, and geodesy
functions to the U.S. Geological Survey; and incorporated remaining NOAA
functions into a newly formed independent agency, the National Scientific,
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NSOAA).
terminated the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) and Manufacturing
Extension Partnership (MEP) at NIST; renamed NIST laboratories as the
National Bureau of Standards (NBS); and combined NBS with NOAA to form
the National Scientific, Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NSOAA)
terminated NTIA grant and assistance programs; privatized NTIA
laboratories; transferred functions related to research and analysis of the
electromagnetic spectrum to NBS; and transferred remaining functions,
including federal spectrum management, to the United States Trade
'For more information on DOC elimination proposals, see: U.S. Library of Congress.
Congressional Research Service. Proposals to Eliminate the U.S. Department of Commerce: An
Issue Overview. CRS Rept. 95-834 E, by Edward Knight. Washington, January 3, 1996. 18 p.
terminated the Technology Administration; privatized NTIS; transferred
the Office of Air and Space Commercialization to NSOAA; eliminated the
NIST metric program; and repealed provisions of the Metric Conversion Act
(15 U.S.C. 205b) requiring federal agencies to go metric.
for the first fiscal year after DOC abolishment, capped funding for
NSOAA functions a t 75% of the total amount appropriated for FY1995; for
the second fiscal year, cap funding a t 65% of FYI995 levels
No subsequent legislation to eliminate the DOC was introduced during the
remainder of the 104th Congress. While the FY1997 budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 178,
H.Rept. 104-575), passed by the House on May 16, 1996, reaffirmed many of the DOC
dismantling proposals found in H.R. 2586, the FY1997 Senate budget resolution
(S.Con.Res. 57) did not call for DOC elimination. The Conference agreement (H.Rept.
104-612) approved by the House and Senate on June 12 and June 13, respectively,
stated: "the conferees agree to disagree on the future status of the Department of
Commerce; they recognize that ultimately the committees ofjurisdiction will determine
whether the Department is or is not terminated." By contrast, the FYI996 budget
resolution (H.Con.Res. 671, which was approved by both the House and the Senate,
expressed the sense of Congress that the DOC should be eliminated.
The folfowing sections of this report provide overviews of DOC S&T agencies and
programs, including: origins and missions; characteristics and possible impacts of DOC
dismantlingproposals; and arguments for and against elimination and/or reorganization
that would be necessitated by the legislation. As mentioned above, DOC dismantling
legislation underwent numerous revisions during the 104th Congress. The following
agency and program overviews focus on the impacts of the most recent DOC
dismantling legislation, H.R. 2586.
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC
NOAA's history as a government agency can be traced back to the Organic Act of
1890,which established the U.S. Weather Bureau, formerly under the War Department,
in the Department of Agriculture. NOAA's most recent predecessor, the Earth Sciences
Services Administration (ESSA), was established in the Department of Commerce in
1962. ESSA brought together under a single agency many federal satellite programs
and scientific research related to earth science, atmosphere, oceans, climate and
NOAA was created in 1970, under President Nixon's reorganization plan no. 4, t o
consolidate a number of activities being carried out throughout the Executive Branch
of the federal government relating to atmospheric and oceanic sciences. The plan also
strived to set an overall framework for government research in these fields. The idea
for NOAA was conceived after a set of recommendations that were outlined in the 1969
Stratton Commission Report on Marine Sciences, Engineering, and Resources. The
final plans for NOAA, however, did not follow the Commission's recommendations
3Prepared by Wayne A. Morrissey, Science and Technology Policy Information Analyst,
Science Policy Research Division.
exactly. For example, ESSA's responsibilities for mapping and charting were not
transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard under the Department of Transportation; nor was
NOAA established in the Interior Department, which had been envisioned for the new
ocean and atmospheric agency.
Instead, NOAA remained under the Department of Commerce (DOC) assuming
most of the functions of its predecessor ESSA, satellite launching functions were
transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and additional
functions were assumed by NOAA relating to protection of the marine environment.
The prevailing opinion within the Nixon Administration was that a new NOAA could
benefit from interacting with the Commerce Department. However, the popular belief,
a t the time, was that philosophical differences between then Secretary of Interior and
the White House affected this outcome.
NOAA is currently the largest agency in DOC, accounting for a little more than
half of DOC'S total budget. NOAA also receives the largest amount of funding for
research and development in DOC (about 28% ofNOAA's budget). NOAA's budget cuts
across 5-major program activities: National Ocean Service (NOS), Oceanic and
Atmospheric Research (OAR), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National
Weather Service (NWS), and National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information
Services (NESDIS). These activities comprise many focused programs and others which
contribute to broader federal crosscutting activities such as the U.S. Global Change
Research Program. and the High Performance Computing and Communications
Initiative, among others.
Program Support, a sixth budget activity, funds equipment and infrastructure for
research. Collectively, these activities are grouped under the NOAA Operation, Research
and Facilities account (ORF) which constitutes about 90% of NOAA's total budget.
NOAA has also maintained a CORPS of commissioned officers, under Marine and Air
Services, who pilot research vessels, assist in nautical charting activities, and participate
in search and rescue activities. Additional funding to support research activities, more
specifically that related to lab construction and maintenance, physical plant, and
research vessel acquisition, are derived from non-ORF Construction and Fleet
Proposals to Reorganize NOAA
Since its creation in 1970, there have been a few attempts to reorganize operations
and save money a t NOAA. During 1976 through 1985, a number of proposals were put
forth and legislation introduced to establish an Organic Act for NOAA.4 Inevitably, a
number of these addressed streamlining operations and cost savings as part of overall
4See for example, [Committee Print] Atmospheric Services and Research and a NOAA
Organic Act; report prepared for the Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Environment of
the Committee on Science and Technology of the U.S. House of Representatives, Ninety-sixth
Congress, First Session by the Science Policy Research Division, Congressional Research Service,
Library of Congress. [Serial DD] 1980, Washington, GPO. 333 p.
Most notably, in 1983, Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc. transmitted to then Associate
Administrator for the Department of Commerce on Oceans and the Atmosphere, James
W. Winchester, the results of a study on the organization and management a t the
National Weather Service (NWS).' The Booz-Allen study focused on defining the core
mission of NWS, implementing new technology, and the possibility of privatizing a
number of functions of NWS. They estimated that around $60 million (in 1982 dollars)
could be saved annually, just by consolidating the number of regional field offices,
which translates to about $100 million annually in 1995 dollars.
In November 1994, The Heritage Foundation reported that by dispersing various
functions of NOAA throughout the federal government, and "privatizing" or eliminating
many of NOAA's other remaining functions -- which they characterized as redundant
-- the federal government could save over $197 million in the first year alone.
According to Heritage, those savings would grow to be a total of $3.3 billion over 5
y e a r s . V h e Heritage Foundation report formed the basic framework for H.R. 1756,
"The Chrysler Bill" as it was originally introduced in the 104th Congress.
In February 1995, the same James W. Winchester and a colleague, Paul Wolff,
former Associate Administrator for NOAA for Ocean Service, released a white paper,
"A proposal to restructure the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAN, in order to reduce its budget by $1 billion a year."7 This
proposal would have terminated a number of NOAA Programs, and transferred its
legally mandated functions to a newly created independent "United States Weather
The Chrysler Bill ( H A . 1756)
The Chrysler Bill was the first of several proposals to legislate the elimination of
the Department of Commerce and in the process broach the idea of either eliminating
or restructuring NOAA. H.R. 1756 became a model by which a Republican-controlled
Congress would seek to downsize the federal government to achieve a balanced budget
by the year 2002. The most important emphasis of this legislation was its plan to
transfer a number of NOAA's functions to other federal agencies and to contract out
services where possible with the private sector while attempting to reduce costs to the
taxpayer and redundancy of programs in the federal government.
The original Chrysler Bill was very ambitious in its scope and its effects on NOAA
would have been far reaching. For example, H.R. 1756 would transfer the National
Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) [fish catch] enforcement activities to the US Coast
GuardDOT. NMFS research activities and species protection functions would be
transferred to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Department of the Interior (DOI?.
'National Weather Service: AStrategy and Organization Concept for the Future. June 1993,
Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc.
'Hedge, Scott and Adam Theirer. A Blueprint to Abolish the Department of Commerce. The
7Testimony of Paul Wolff before the House of Representatives Committee on Science.
September 12, 1995.
Seafood inspection would be transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Many State fishery grants and commercial promotion programs would be
terminated. NOS geodesy functions would be transferred to the U.S. Geological Service
in DOI. Observation and prediction activities relating to pollution, and estuarine
research and coastal assessment functions would be terminated. Marine and estuarine
management responsibilities would transfer to DOI. Nautical and aeronautical charting
functions would be transferred to the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA), with instruction
to terminate cartographic functions performed by the private sector. NESDIS weather
satellite functions would be transferred to the National Weather Service (NWS), and
its data centers would be offered up for safe to private sector. NWS itself would be
transferred to DOI; however, many specialized weather services and NOAA's Regional
Climate Centers would be terminated.
H.R. 1756 would also terminate the NOAA Office of Oceans and Atmospheric
Research. Congressional drafters of this Iegislation believed many of OAR'S
Laboratories could perform better and be managed more efficiently by the private
sector. Consequently, OAR'S Environmental Research Labs (ERL), and some other
NOAA labs of commercial interest would be put up for sale, while others which support
marine research would be transferred to DOI. OAR'S U.S. Weather Research Program
would be transferred to NWS under DOI. H.R. 1756 also called for the termination of
the NOAA Corps of commissioned uniformed officers (CORPS), and the Fleet
Modernization Program would be discontinued. Many ships and aircraft in the NOAA
suite of research vessels would be put up for sale to the private sector. Finally, those
former NOAA functions transferred to other agencies would be funded at 75% of
FYI994 levels in FY1996, and capped at that level thereafter.
Provisions of the original Chrysler Bill were modified after deliberation in both
chambers of Congress. The tenet of successive legislative proposals to restructure
NOAA was to keep its core functions intact, and to have it operate primarily under one
Roth ProposaZ (S. 929, amended)
Senator Abraham introduced a virtually identical companion bill to H.R. 1756, S.
929, on Jun. 15, 1995. However, the Senate Government Affairs Committee, then
chaired by Senator Roth, reported out S. 929 with an amendment in the form of a
substitute bill on Oct. 20, 1995 (S.Rept. 104-164). Sect. 301 of S. 929, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Act of 1995, reflected new thoughts and ideas
from the Senate about the disposition of NOAA, in the event the Department of
Commerce were to be eliminated. The Senate report stated that, "Congress finds that
the establishment of an independent agency for ocean, coastal, and atmospheric
programs will facilitate the development of a single agency and unified means for
research concerning ocean, coastal and atmospheric programs." In other words, S.929
supported an independent, intact NOAA.
S. 929 also contained a 10% reduction in funding for NOAA for FY1996, and a
second, larger cut of 36% which would take effect after NOAA was established as an
independent agency. As an independent agency, NOAA would fall under the authority
of Sect. 104, of Title V, of the U.S. Code, as recommended by the Stratton Commission.
All 5-proposed executive level administrative appointees would be subject to
confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
The Roth bill, however, also directed OMB to report on the feasibility of eventually
folding NOAA into a newly created Department of Natural Resources, and to report on
potential savings from privatizing seafood inspection services, certain weather services,
data processing and dissemination services, charting, and marine navigation services,
including most of those performed by NOAA CORPS utilizing the NOAA fleet.
However, the NOAA CORPS would remain an integral part of NOAA. Furthermore,
NOAA would be directed to consult and coordinate its environmental policies with the
White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Regulatory rulemaking a t
NOAA would proceed as before, both during and after the transition.
Budget Reconciliation (IIJZ. 2491)
During deliberations to draw up a budget resolution for FY1996-2002, Congress
once again focused their attention on the Chrysler Bill. The House made known its
intent to attach a proposal to eliminate the Department of Commerce as part of its
FYI996 budget reconciliation package. Each House Committee with jurisdiction over
NOAA was given an opportunity to propose how they would bring about a more cost
Chairman Walker of the House Science Committee was the first to offer a
substitute for the original Chrysler Bill. The revised H.R. 1756, was substantially
modified by the Committee, and called for the creation of aNational Institute of Science
and techno log^ which initially would house an "essentially intact" NOAA, the National
Bureau of Standards (formerly NIST), and the OEce or Air and Space Commercial
Services. That not withstanding, the Committee called for termination of about 30
NOAA research programs, the repeal of a number of laws affecting NOAA's authority,
and the termination of the NOAA fleet of research vessels and NOAA Corps Officers.
Moreover, NOAA's authority to make fisheries grants and support fisheries promotion
would be terminated.
On October 17, 1995, the Committee on the Budget House of Representatives
released H.Rept. 104-280, on a "Seven-Year Balanced Budget Reconciliation Act of
1995." Sect. 17205 of that Act dealt with NOAA, and would have transferred many
functions of NOAA to U.S. the Department of Agriculture. The logic behind this
proposal stemmed from the original intent for the National Weather Bureau under the
Organic Act of 1890, to be transferred from the U.S. Army to the U.S. Department of
The version which survived as the final Budget Reconciliation bill for FYI996
(H.R. 2491), appeared to be a hybrid of House Science and Government Reform
Committee versions. The Senate did not choose to address the abolition of the
Department of Commerce, or its agencies, in its respective version of the reconciliation
The Department of Commerce Dismantling Act (H.R.2586)
H.R. 2586 was introduced on November 11,1995by Rep. Archer for the Committee
on Ways and Means, to raise the debt ceiling. Sections 2005 and 2006 of that Act set
forth recommendations regarding the disposition of NOAA and its programs. While
very similar in perspective to legislation on Budget Reconciliation (H.R. 2491),
introduced by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. H.R. 2586
sought to creatc a Sational Scientific. Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrat~on
ISSOAA, whirh would assume manv of the funrt~onsand responsibil~rirsof S 0 . U . and
other science programs within DOC.
Like H.R. 2491, it would terminate various research programs and accounts in
NOAA, and repeal various U.S. laws for which NOAA has authority. But there are also
some important differences. H.R. 2586 would transfer aeronautical charting
responsibilities and public services, currently provided by NOAA to the Federal Aviation
Administration with shared funding, to the Defense Mapping Agency. The Director of
the U.S. Geological Survey would assume responsibilities for all other functions relating
to mapping and charting and geodesy, and was instructed to terminate any functions
which can be performed by the private sector. The NOAA CORPS would be terminated.
Most remaining functions would be transferred to a newly created NSOAA, except
for coastal non-point pollution control responsibilities which would be transferred to
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The bill also would terminate a number
of administrative positions within NOAA and any office of NOAA whose primary
purpose is communications, legislative, personnel, public relations, budget, constituent,
intergovernmental, international policy and strategic planning, sustainable
development, administrative, financial, educatlonal, legal, or coordination. Funding for
the surviving entities of NOAA in NSOAA would be capped a t 75% of 1995 levels.
Those programs not transferred to NSOAA, but not terminated, would be subject to an
additional 10% cut the following fiscal year.
Department of Commerce Response to the Dismantlement of NOAA
Then Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, testified on several occasions before
Congress that the Commerce Department is the only federal department whose existing
structure encourages the integration of economics, environmental stewardship,
technology and information. He added that NOAA provides the environmental
information, science, technology and resource management expertise which is the
hallmark of an economically healthy nation. Then Secretary Brown aIso asserted that
NOAA products and services facilitate smooth and efficient conduct of U.S. commerce
and cited how NOAA's provision of weather warnings and forecasts for public safety
has protected lives and property of U.S. taxpayers and has enhanced U.S. economic
The Commerce Department, early on, addressed specific details of the Chrysler bill
addressing the synergy of interdependent programs within NOAA and the Department
of Commerce budget, and projected how activities at both agencies would probably be
affected. In general, their response has covered concerns about the nation's fisheries,
weather services, charting services, satellite, data, and information services, the NOAA
CORPS, and its Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Programs. Some of their major
concerns of officials at NOAA can be summed up as follows:
They are wary about the lack of experience of other agencies which would
receive transferred functions, such as w-eather and climate services,
environmental analysis, and coastal and marine management.
They are skeptical that important partnerships affecting commerce and
environmental health created with State, regional, tribal, and local
governments and the private sector may not survive a transfer to another
They are uncertain about continued funding and maintenance of satellite
programs such as GOES and POES, which help to forecast severe weather and
monitor the environment for scientists.
They are concerned about the loss of vital operations, including the guarantee
that important data would continue to be provided by the private sector for
maps and charts for safe and efficient commercial and recreation marine
Private entities have expressed no desire to collect or maintain (legacy) data.
NOAA claims that while commercial weather services are anxious for
government contracts, they are less than enthusiastic about maintaining
NOAA's federally-mandated core responsibilities, investing in capital
equipment investments, and assuming liability for their products.
Transferring NOAA charting functions to the Department ofDefense Mapping
Agency (DMA) would engender national security risks which would affect
accessibility of consequent data and products. Also, separate but equal
functions would be necessary to serve both military and civilian clients,
increasing programmatic redundancy and operational costs.
FAA currently funds two-thirds of NOAA responsibilities for aeronautical
charting. One of NOAA's core missions is to provide maps and charts for safe
and efficient commercial and recreation marine transport. They argue that
privatization of these services could put a "for profit" spin on all mapping and
Equitable non-commercial access to data and products for scientific research
purposes is yet another concern.
CORPS elimination would end the effectiveness of NOAA's rapid response to
natural disasters and environmental emergencies a t sea, and those in coastal
and estuarine environments. The CORPS is also a critical component of law
enforcement in coastal areas and, consequently, those functions would still
need to be funded by another agency (e.g. Coast Guard).
The NOAA fleet currently supports not only research but operations.
Responsibilities for both commercial and recreational charting and the NOAA
CORPS data collection in support of NOAA's core mission remains unchanged.
NOAA has been particularly adamant about the importance of Environmental
Research Labs (ERLs), which support NOAA's continued operations and core mission,
which they believe cannot be separated out from the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric
Research (OAR). They claim that OAR is the only ongoing U.S. government effort for
maintaining long-term atmospheric and oceanic monitoring networks and prediction
systems, including the highly utilized ocean buoy environmental data network.
Furthermore, NOAA has argued that many of the labs suggested for privatization are
not-commercially attractive, and in many cases serve only to fulfill NOAArequirements
for data collection under law.
The crux of NOAA's argument to keep OAR intact and responsible for managng
its labs revolves around what it describes as economic benefits to the nation of up to
$2.7 billion from seasonal and inter-annual climate research (ENSO). Also, OAR
supports U.S. commercial fisheries providing them with scientific data and information.
NOAA's Sea Grant education and outreach has been cited as one of the few remaining
programs for training new generations of expertise in oceanography. Knowledge about
oceanic circulation has been enhanced by ocean tracer studies in the Marine
Environmental Labs as well as marlne seafood disease and non-ind~genouspest control
research. OAR also conducts valuable research in coastal pollution control and has
helped to develop alternatives for environmentally hazardous substances such as
Commerce, State, and Justice Appropriations and NOAA
Without actually legislating a reorganization of NOAA, budget negotiations
between the Clinton Administration, the House, and the Senate, have set the stage for
how a new NOAA might look and operate over the next seven years. The Conference
agreement on the original Commerce, State, Justice Appropriations bill for FY1996,
H.R. 2076 (H.Rept. 104-3781, granted NOAA a total budget authority of $1.86 billion,
with an appropriation of $1.796 billion for Operations, Research and Facilities (ORF).
President Clinton vetoed H.R. 2076 on Dec. 19, 1995, and that veto was sustained.
NOAA, thereafter, continued to operate under a series of continuing resolutions until
H.R. 3019, the Omnibus Appropriations Act for FY1996, was signed into law April 28,
1996. Any language to abolish the Department of Commerce in temporary funding
legislation was either checked by Presidential veto or removed prior to the President's
consideration. During this time, continuing resolutions funded most of NOAA's
programs a t H.R. 2076 conference levels. An exception was the Global Learning and
Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program which was zeroed out in
Conference, but singled out for funding a t 75% of FYI995 levels in continuing
resolutions. The President had requested a full funding of GLOBE of $7 million, as an
"FYI996 Presidential investment addback;" however, H.R. 3019, stipulated that no
funding would provided for GLOBE for FY1996.
Passage of H.R. 3019 (P.L.104-1341, granted NOAA a total FYI996 budget
authority of $1.85 billion, which was about $58.5 million below H.R. 2076 conference
levels, and about $9.4 million less than the President's FYI996 request. Of that
amount $1.793 billion funded NOAA's Operations, Research and Facilities (ORF)
account, which ended up about $13.4 million below H.R 2076 levels. In general,
funding instructions remained the same as stipulated in the FYI996 conference report
on H.R. 2076, with few exceptions. Title I1 of H.R 3019 provided supplemental
appropriations of $7.5 million for NOAA's Construction account to rebuild fish
hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest destroyed by flooding.
The FYI997 Commerce, State, and Judiciary Appropriations bill (H.R. 38141, as
passed by the House on July 24, 1996, would have provided the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) a budget authority (BA) of $1.78 billion for
FY1997. An additional $70 million in funding for NOAA, offset by collection of fees,
transfers from other accounts, as well as funds carried over from unobligated balances,
resulted in total House approved BA for NOAA of $1.8 billion for FY1997, This
amount was almost $80 million below FYI996 levels. The main Operations, Research
and Facilities (ORF) account received approximately $1.74 billion. However, this was
$0.24 billion below the President's FYI997 request, and NOAA would be rescinded $10
million from its unobligated balances.
H.R. 3814 would have funded most NOAA programs at, or slightly above, FYI996
levels. The Omnibus Civilian Science Authorization Act (H.R. 33221, approved by the
House, figured significantly in setting overall spending caps on many NOAA programs
(Weather Modernization a t National Weather Service, e.g.1. The House also went along
with Administration proposals to eliminate the National Undersea Research Program,
and to phase out the KOAA Corps by September 1997. The House upheld their
intention to eliminate the $7 million GLOBE program, and specified that no NOAA
staff could be detailed for this activity. Also, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric
Research (OAR) would now be responsible for funding its own Marine Services, now
provided for under Program Support. The House would make NOAA more reliant on
reprogramming of funds, and continued to encourage the agency to seek partnerships
with academia and the private sector to defray costs. They also called for a
streamlining of operations a t NOAA's Administrative Headquarters, as a potential
source for reprogrammed funding. The House also included provisions prohibiting
federal funding for acquisition of any new research vessels. During floor action on H.R.
3814, the House approved an amendment to restore funding of $2 million for
endangered species recovery a t NOAA. This offset would come from within NOAA and
primarily fund Mitchell Act [fish] hatcheries.
The Senate Appropriations Committee took a somewhat different tack on H.R.
3814, recommending more than an additional $219.5 million for NOAA than the House
for a total funding for NOAA of about $1.99 billion. Some $1.93 billion of that would
be intended for ORF funding. Notably, the Senate Appropriations Committee increased
the OAR budget to include an additional $8 million for Climate and Global Change
above FYI996 appropriations. The Committee also addressed other OAR programs.
I t approved continued funding for a Health of the Atmosphere (HOA) Initiative under
Long Term Air Quality Research, added $2.5 million for Marine Prediction Research
(which includes funding for the VENTS program and Arctic Research), added $2.9
million for Sea Grant (above FY1996), and added $2.9 million for the National
Undersea Research Program (NURP), above FY1996. The Committee also put the
GLOBE program back into the NOAA budget at $7 million as per the President's
request. The Senate also proposed an increase of $22 million above House levels for
NOAA's Construction account, an additional $2 million for the Fleet Modernization
program, and a restoration of $3.79 million for general administration, which had been
reduced by P.L. 104-134. The Committee also concurred with the House over a
rescission of $10 million from unobligated funding for Landsat-7 under the NESDIS
The final FYI997 appropriations language agreed to by the House and Senate in
the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 3610, P.L. 104-208)provides a total
NOAA budget of approximately $1.92 billion, which conforms more closely with the
Senate recommended levels, but not consistently. Of this total, $1.85 billion is directed
towards ORF. Additionally, P.L. 104-208 provides for a $20 million recision from the
ORF account, which is double the amount recommended by both the House and Senate,
and is derived after a re-estimate of amounts necessary to conduct NOAA satellite
operations. Conferees agreed to fund the GLOBE program at $6 million, $1 million
below request; and also concurred with House language to eliminate Marine Services
as a separate budget line item under Program Support. Instead a new budget line item,
'Data Acquisition,' is added to NOS, NMFS, and OAR program activities. The rationale
behind this is to encourage program directors to more competitively seek out private
research vessels suitable for each program's data collection activities. The NOAA
Commissioned Corps (CORPS), facing elimination in September 1997, was reprieved
temporarily. Conferees, instead, instated a personnel cap of 299, by September 1997;
and expect NOAA to transm~ta legislative proposal and a long-term plan for the
CORPS. Construction at NOAA was funded at $58.3 million. Increases are for
construction of three new Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) and for the National
Estuarine Research Reserves. The Fleet Modernization account realized a $2 million
increase ($8 million total), for vessels to come on line in FY1997, as recommended by
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY8
The genesis of the National Institute of Standards and Technology can be found
in the U.S. Constitution. Article I, Section 8 gives Congress the power to "fix the
Standard of Weights and Measures." During the nineteenth century, a minuscule Office
of Weights and Measures was maintained in the Department of the Treasury. By the
turn of the twentieth century, however, the growing industrialization of the Nation
impelled Congress to establish the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) by passing the
NBS Organic Act of 1901 (P.L. 56-177). NBS was officially moved into the Department
of Commerce in 1903.
Prior to 1988, the mission of NBS was to develop and maintain standards and
measurement support for scientific investigations, engineering, manufacturing,
commerce and educational institutions, as well as to provide technical and advisory
services to other government agencies on scientific and engineering problems. The
Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-418) changed the name of
NBS to NIST, and explicitly charged the agency with providing technical services to
facilitate U.S. industry's competitiveness objectives. P.L. 100-418 directs NIST also to
perform functions in support of two broad goals: (1)enhancing the competitiveness of
'Prepared by Lennard G. Kruger, Specialist in Science and Technology, Science Policy
American companies by providing appropriate support for industry's development of
pre-competitive generic technologies and diffusing government-developed technological
advances to users in all segments of the American economy; and (2) providing the
measurements, calibrations, and quality assurance techniques which underpin U.S.
commerce, technological progress, improved product reliability, manufacturing
processes, and public safety.
With a FYI997 budget of $588 million, NIST is by far the largest component of the
Technology Administration of the Department of Commerce. Unlike most national
laboratories, NIST has a mission specified by statute (15 U.S.C. 271-282a), has its own
authorization and appropriation, and is headed by a Senate-confirmed Presidential
appointee (the National Institutes of Health is the only other federal laboratory
complex which shares these characteristics).
NIST currently consists of in-house R&D and standards services activities (called
Scientific and Technical Research and Services and funded a t $268 million in FY1997),
and external grant programs (called Industrial Technology Services and funded a t $320
million in FY1997). The NIST in-house R&D effort is conducted by approximately
3,200 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support personnel (plus some 1,200 visiting
scientists per year from industry, academia, and other government agencies). This work
is performed in seven research laboratories in Gaithersburg, Maryland and Boulder,
Colorado? The research directly supports standards and measurement related
functions and services which NIST provides to industry and to other government
agencies. NIST sees these activities as supporting basic "infrastructural technologies"
which enable the development of advanced technologies, and which industry can use to
characterize new materials, monitor production processes, and ensure the quality of
new product lines. For example, NIST's super-accurate atomic clock is used to calibrate
time and frequency signals critical in electric power grids, communications networks,
banking systems, and satellite navigation systems. Another example is NIST's
development of sophisticated measurement techniques for semiconductor chips, which
enable industry to achieve ultra-precise manufacturing controls necessary to develop
next generation semiconductor technologies. A major emphasis of NIST laboratory
work is cooperative research with industry aimed a t overcoming technical barriers to
commercialization of emerging technologies. NIST participates with U.S. companies in
cooperative research and development programs in over 200 research areas.''
NIST laboratory work also provides research, technology. and technical expertise
to NIST's "Technology Services" program. Technology Services provides measurement
and standards related services to U.S. industry, government, and the public. Many of
these services are geared towards increasing the competitiveness of U.S. industry and/or
overcoming barriers to international trade. Specific Technology Services activities
providing technical standards expertise to support negotiation and
implementation of international trade agreements such as the North American Free
These research laboratories are: Electronics and Electrical Engineering, Manufacturing
Engineering, Physics, Chemical Science and Technology, Materials Science and Engineering,
Building and Fire Research, and Information Technology.
U.S. Dept. of Commerce. Technology Administration. National Institute of Standardsand
Technology. Cooperative Research Opportunities for Industry at NIST, June 1994. p. 1.
Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT);
coordinating federal, state and local government efforts to ensure that consistent
weights and measures are used in the marketplace; developing, producing, and
distributing Standard Reference Materials; providing Standard Reference Data;
providing calibration and laboratory accreditation services; and planning, organizing,
and managing the placement of technical standards experts in selected U.S. embassies
to provide technical expertise in the identification and resolution of standards-related
technical barriers to trade.
External grant programs, including the Advanced Technology Program and the
Manufacturing Extension Partnership, were created by Title V of the Omnibus Trade
and Competitiveness Act of 1988, which ". . . significantly expands the role of NIST as
the government's lead laboratory in support of U.S. industrial quality and
competitiveness . . . ." These programs were designed to facilitate industrial activities
to utilize advanced process technology; to promote cooperative ventures between
industry, universities, and government laboratories; and to promote shared risks,
accelerated development. and increased skills. Beginning in FY1991, the total NIST
budget began marked growth as Congress started funding external grant programs
authorized by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act. However, the 104th
Congress sharply reduced the growth of these programs.
DOC Dismantling Proposals: Implications f o r NIST
Proposals considered in the 104th Congress to eliminate the Department of
Commerce would, have had major implications for NIST. The House and Senate
legislation would eliminate NIST's major external grant programs, the Advanced
Technology Program and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. In H.R. 2586,
NIST -would reclaim its original name, the National Bureau of Standards (NBS).
Standards functions, including the laboratories, would be consolidated into a new
independent Executive Branch agency, the National Scientific, Oceanic, and
Atmospheric Administration (NSOAA), which would also have jurisdiction over NOAA
and the Office of Space Commerce. NSOAA funding for the first fiscal year after
abolishment is limited to 75% of fiscal year 1995 funding, and funding for the second
fiscal year is limited to 65% of FYI995 funding. The House proposal would also
specifically abolish NIST's metric program and repeal the law which requires federal
agencies to use the metric system in procurements, grants, and other business related
activities. S. 929, as amended, would incorporate NIST's standards functions (including
the NIST laboratories) and the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award program into a newly
established independent Office of Patents, Trademarks, and Standards.
Supporters of the NIST reorganization proposals cite the need to reduce the size
and cost of government by terminating non-essential government programs which may
be more appropriately performed by the private sector, and by consolidating essential
government functions into a streamlined bureaucracy. Proponents of terminating
NIST's Industrial Technology Services, cite these programs as prime examples of
"corporate welfare," whereby the federal government invests in applied research
programs which should more appropriately be conducted in the private sector. The
Administration has defended these programs, arguing that they help industry (including
small manufacturers) develop generic technologies that, while crucial to industrial
competitiveness, would not or could not be developed by the private sector alone.
The goal of eliminating NIST's Industrial Technology Services was addressed by
the 104th Congress throughout the budget process. Both authorizations and budget
resolutions sought immediate termination of the ATP and MEP programs, while
continuing future funding for NIST's in-house R&D (STRS) program. The
Administration strongly defended these programs, and the proposed zero funding of the
ATP in the original FYI996 Department of Commerce appropriations bill (H.R. 2076)
was among the reasons leading to a Presidential veto of the bill. The final FYI996
appropriations bill (P.L. 104-134) provided $221 million for ATP and $80 million for
The final FYI997 levels as set forth in the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations
Act (P.L. 104-208) provides $588 million for NIST. This is 29% less than the
Administration request and 5% less than the FYI996 level, but 25% more than the level
provided in the House passed H.R. 3814 (the FYI997 Commerce, State, and Judiciary
appropriations bill)?and 32%more than in the Senate reported H.R. 3814. The FYI997
NIST appropriation breaks down as follows: $268 million for STRS; $225 million for
ATP; $95 million for MEP; and zero funding for construction. Funding for the ATP
is significantly higher than the House and Senate levels in H.R. 3814, and the money
is provided without any of the restrictions recommended in the original House and
Senate legislation. Also, the conference agreement contains language allowing one
additional year of support for six-year old manufacturing technology centers funded
under the MEP program.
Proposals to reorganize NIST's standards activities and laboratories into a
National Scientific, Oceanic, and Atmospheric Administration, or into an Office of
Patents, Trademarks, and Standards, would keep NIST's in-house activities largely
intact, although spending limits would be imposed under H.R. 2586. The arguments
supporting such an action hinge on the efficiencies of consolidation and the reduction
of federal bureaucracy. For example, the House proposal would eliminate the position
of Associate Director within NIST, along with five other presidential appointee
positions within NOAA.
Critics of the proposed reorganization of NIST, including the Administration,
question whether there are any efficiencies, cost savings, or benefits to be gained by
consolidating NIST and NOAA into a new agency, or by combining NIST with the
Patent and Trademark Office. The House proposal to limit the NIST laboratory budget
to 75% of FYI995 levels would be mismided,
the Administration asserts, because as the
state of modern technology advances, critical measurement technologies become more
. and essential, and the capabilities and responsibilities of the
N ~ S Tlaboratories must necessarily expand. Furthermore, the ~dministrationargues,
because NIST provides valuable technical expertise to industry, and because NIST
activities contribute a technological component to complex trade issues, separating
KIST from the Department of Commerce trade mission could be detrimental to U.S.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is a
unit within the Department of Commerce, with approximately 250 staff persons and
offices in Washington, D.C., Annapolis, Maryland, and Boulder, color ad^.'^ NTIA was
established in 1978 (pursuant to Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1977 and Executive
Order 12046 of March 27,1978) by combining the Ofice of Telecommunications Policy
of the Executive Office of the President, and DOC'S Office of Telecommunications.
NTIA was created to serve the President and the Secretary of Commerce in setting
telecommunications policy, and to provide assistance in implementing that policy. The
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information reports directly to the
out NTIA's oolicies. It has three maior roles:
" of Commerce in carrvine
continuing its responsibility for setting and implementing telecommunications policy;
managing the federal broadcast spectrum; and providing grants for telecommunications
Setting and Implementing Policy
Among the many science and technology policy-setting responsibilities of NTIA is
to assist and formulate the National Information Infrastructure (NII) initiative for the
Administration. The NII is a broad policy initiative intended to create broad public and
private interest and investment in information and telecommunications technologies
considered crucial for developing the Information Superhighway. The Assistant
Secretary for Communications and Information, who also administers NTIA, is the chair
for several Information Infrastructure Task Force (IITF) subcommittees setting policy
for the NII. Among the policy goals are to ensure that the United States does not
become a nation of technology "haves and have nots," and that universal service of
telecommunications is maintained for all U.S. citizens."
NTIA also provides policy guidelines for U.S. participation in the international
satellite organizations Intelsat and Inmarsat.
Intelsat (the International
Telecommunications Satellite Organization) was initiated bv the United States as an
international consortium to help create and maintain a global satellite communications
while Inmarsat (International Mobile Satellite Organization)
global satellite system for maritime and other mobile comm~nications.'~
for both treaty-based organizations is to provide policy outlines of the U.S. position on
''Prepared by Glenn J. McLoughlin, Specialist in Science and Technology Policy, Science
Policy Research Division.
U.S. Department of Commerce. National Telecommunications and Information
Administration. Annual Report For Calendar Year 1994. Washington: NTIA, April 1995. p. 1.
l 3 For more on current NII funding and policies, see: U.S. Library of Congress. Congressional
Research Service. The National Information Infrastructure: The Federal Role, by Glenn J.
McLoughlin. CRS Issue Brief 95051. [continuously updated].
Codding, George A. The Future of Satellite Communications.Boulder, Colorado: Westview
Press, 1990. pp. 37-40; 50-51.
communications policy, particularly as both organizations undergo restructuring. In
other areas, NTIA participated in International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
meetings worldwide, provided support and representation at the G-7 meeting in
Brussels in February 1995, and coordinated standards compatibility for the first Low
Earth Orbit Mobile Satellite Service system. Finally, among multilateral and bilateral
satellite agreements and arrangements involving NTIA are PEACESAT (Pan-Pacific
Educational and Communications Experiments by Satellite Program) with twenty-one
Pacific Basin nations, an agreement with Russia to alleviate transmission interference
in the GLONASS (a Russian navigation satellite system) with the U.S. Global
Positioning System (GPS), an agreement with China to help establish a civil emergency
telecommunications system, and bilateral telecommunications discussions with
Federal Spectrum Management
Another responsibility of NTIA is oversight of the communications broadcast
spectrum used by the federal government. The spectrum of wireless transmission, and
the corresponding "bands"of broadcast frequency as used for private and state and local
use, is regulated and managed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).'"
NTIA provides policy and management guidelines on the federal government's use of
the spectrum and how it is allocated. The FCC has been given authority to auction off
parts of the spectrum for private use, both to encourage privatization and to raise
federal revenue.17 As part of its mandate to manage spectrum for government use,
NTIA has developed several programs. It provides analysis and projections of trends
of broadcast traffic and spectrum use. It also provides reports to policymakers on
shifting spectrum from federal to private, commercial use. NTIA has initiated a
program to automate the federal spectrum management system. It has started an
"Openness Program" with other federal agencies to exchange information on broadcast
issues. Finally, as already stated, several global, bilateral, and multilateral agreements
and arrangements include spectrum management and oversight policy.'8
The NTIA information infrastructure grants program is the third major component
which has an impact on national science and technology priorities. It represents the
largest part of the NTIA budget, and was arguably the most contentious of the NTIA
responsibilities considered by the 104th Congress.
U.S. Department of Commerce. National Telecommunications and Information
Administration. Annual Report for Calendar Year 1994. Op. cit. pp. 5-13.
l6 US. Congress. Office of Technology Assessment. Wireless Technologies and the National
Information Infrastructure. OTA-ITC-622.August 1995. p. 261.
l7 U.S. Library of Congress. CongressionalResearch Service. FCC Auctions: Legislation in the
104th Congress, by Richard M. Nunno. CRS Report 95-923. October 11, 1996. 6 pages.
l8 U.S. Department of Commerce. National Telecommunications and Information
Administration. Annual Report for Calendar Year 1994. Op. cit. pp. 11-13.
There are three telecommunications grant programs which NTIA supports. The
first, the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure assistance program, is
also known as the TIIAP or more commonly the information infrastructure grants
program. This program is closely tied to the Clinton Administration's NII policy for
developing the telecommunications and information infrastructure of the 21st century.
NTIA awards matching grants to state and local governments, health care providers,
schools, libraries and other public sector non-profit organizations to ensure that they
are connected to communications networks. The Clinton Administration considers the
information infrastructure grants program one of the cornerstones of its national
technology policy based on public-private partnerships and cooperation.
The other two programs focus on facilities equipment and children's broadcasting.
One is the Public Telecommunications Facilities Grants Program (PTFTP), also known
as the public broadcasting and facilities program. This program, transferred to NTIA
in 1979 from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, provides grants to
public broadcasting organizations to buy new equipment and provide broadcast services
nationwide. The other grant program is the National Endowment for Children's
Educational Television, which encourages and supports the production of children's
Smaller NTIA programs representing the federal interest in U.S.
telecommunications policy include minority assistance for ownership of
telecommunications businesses, interagency policy coordination, and publication of
telecommunications policy reports, NTIA also promotes communications standards
policies and programs both domestically and internationally. However, the major part
of the Department of Commerce standards program is in NIST, and this policy issue is
described more fully i n that section.
Effects of DOC Dismantling Proposals and Budget Issues
The current policy debate regarding the future of NTIA falls within two closely
parallel but separate legislative activities. The first is legislation to eliminate the
Department of Commerce, the second the NTIA budget. Both aspects of this legislative
activity will very likely shape the role and scope of NTIA in the near future and beyond.
Under H.R. 2586, almost all of the functions of NTIA would be eliminated.
Research facilities would be transferred to the Office of Management and Budget for
privatization. Satellite programs would be transferred to a newly established National
Scientific: Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NSOAA);spectrum research would
be transferred to a newly established National Bureau of Standards; and federal
spectrum management and functions related to international telecommunications
agreements would be transferred to the USTR. The budget resolution passed by the
House on May 16, 1996, reaffirms the NTIA eliminationlreorganization proposals
detailed in H.R. 2586.
During the FYI997 appropriations process, the House and Senate generally agreed
on similar budget recommendations for NTIA, with one notable difference. As passed
by the conferees (P.L. 104-208,H.R. 3610) and originally by the House (H.R. 3814), the
appropriations bill provides an overall NTIA budget of $51.74 million for FY1997. The
FYI996 budget for NTIA was $54.0 million, while the Administration requested $87.97
million for NTIA for FY1997. The Senate Appropriations Committee had recommended
an overall NTIA budget of $35.2 million for FYI997 earlier this year.
The four program functions within NTIA are affected by FYI997 appropriations
legislation as follows:
Salaries and Related Functions. P.L. 104-208 provides an FYI997 budget of
$15 million for Salaries and Related Functions, below the FYI996 budget of
$17.0 million, the Administration's request of $18.47 million for FY1997, and
the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed increase to $16 million.
Public Broadcasting Facilities, Planning and Construction. This NTIA
program supports planning and construction for public television, radio, and
non-broadcast facilities. For FY1997, the House, the Senate Appropriations
Committee, and P.L. 104-208 provides $15.25 million in funding for this
program. In FY1996, this program was funded a t $15.5 million: while the
Administration proposed $8.0 million for FY1997.
Endowment for Children's Educational Programming. P.L. 104-208 provides
no funding for the Endowment for Children's Educational Programming for
FY1997, citing redundancy with other federal programs. Both the House and
Senate Appropriations Committee agreed with this position in H.R. 3814. In
FY1996, no funding was provided t o this program, while the Administration
requested $2.49 million for FY1997.
Information Infrastructure Grants Program. This NTIA program provided
strong disagreements between the Clinton Administration and the House and
Senate regarding the FYI997 appropriations request and recommendations.
The House considered NTIA's Information Infrastructure Grants program the
basis for providing information technology to areas which are "underserved
by recent technology developments and applications. As passed by the House,
H.R. 3814 provided $21.49 million for this program in FY1997, down slightly
from $21.5 million in N1996, but significantly below the Administration's
request of $59.0 million for FY1997. The Senate Appropriations Committee
provided $4.075 million for the information infrastructure grants program,
based on federal budgetary concerns and an inclination to reduce the federal
role in developing a broad and extensive national information infrastructure.
For N1997, P.L. 104-208 provides the $21.49 million in funding as
recommended by the House. Support for this program will likely be debated
in the 105th Congress.
Proposals in the 104th Congress to eliminate the Department of Commerce
generally sought to eliminate most, if not all, of NTIA as well. As already described,
several proposals sought to place federal spectrum management within a reconstituted
What is the possible impact of proposals to eliminate NTIA? Proponents of this
legislation contend that its role of supporting telecommunications policy, management
of spectrum, and funding for grants is neither efficient nor appropriate as federal
responsibilities. According to this position, current NTIA programs either fill a need
for which there is no demand, or provide support for activities which can be better
addressed by t h e private sector. Critics of NTIA maintain that coordination of federal
telecommunications policy in a de-regulated environment is outlined in the
Telecommunications Act (P.L. 104-104) and is primarily given to the FCC. The auction
of broadcast spectrum should be completed by the FCC and management of public use
of the spectrum could be performed by the USTR.
telecommunications agreements and arrangements could be coordinated more
comprehensively through a reconstituted USTR, rather than NTIA. Other programs
to encourage development of the information and telecommunications infrastructure
should be encouraged through lower corporate tax, relaxed antitrust, and deregulated
industry policies and laws. State and local governments should have the primary
responsibility for assistingpublic interest entities like schools and libraries, they argue,
not the federal government. I n terms of national science and technology policy, critics
see NTIA's functions with the larger context of a Department of Commerce which is too
large, complex, and unwieldy to efficiently serve the types of scientific research and
technology development needed to foster telecommunications growth and applications
in the United States.''
Supporters of NTIA, led by President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and other
Administration officials disagree. Placing NTIA within the context of a national policy
to foster government-industry cooperation in technology development, the Clinton
Administration argues that NTIA's policy responsibilities, spectrum management, and
funding of technology development fill crucial needs which the private sector or state
and local governments may not (or will not) support. They maintain that its policy role
provides a perspective not found elsewhere: one that responds to U.S. industry needs,
balanced by public interest, and reflects technical and policy expertise within the
Administration. Communications satellite agreements and arrangements undertaken
by NTIA also provide this perspective and are critical in a global economy, according
to supporters. NTIA advocates also contend that it is providing the policies to achieve
development of the National Information Infrastructure (NU), part of the Information
According to a n NTIA official:
Superhighway of t o m o r r ~ w . ' ~
The Nation needs the expertise of the National Telecommunications and
Information Administration to continue to lead in this area and to ensure
that the benefits of the Information Age reach all Ameri~ans.'~
l9 For a statement echoing these points regarding the Department of Commerce in general,
see: U.S. House of Representatives. Committee on Commerce. Statement of Joe Cobb, John M.
Olin Senior Fellow in Political Economy, Heritage Foundation. July 24, 1995. The Department
of Commerce Dismantling Act of 1995. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1996. p. 172.
U.S. Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service. The National Information
Infrastructure: The Federal Role, by Glenn J. McLoughlin. CRS Issue Brief 95051 Icontinuously
U.S. House of Representatives. Committee on Commerce. Testimony of Lany Irving,
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information. July 24, 1995. The Department of
Commerce Dismantling Act of 1995. Washington, U.S. God. Print. Off., 1996. p. 145.
Supporters also contend that the NTIA's grant program allows certain non-profit
organizations, such as schools, hospitals and libraries, in rural and urban areas, to be
included in the information technology future. They contend that this is one area
where there is suffkient national public interest to warrant federal programs. Finally
supporters argue that transferring NTIA's authority to manage the government's
broadcast spectrum would interfere with the President's ability to carry out his
executive functions. They contend that while current policies allow the auction of
spectrum for private sector use, public spectrum use in times of emergencies and crisis
is essential to the national good.
A critical issue affecting the future of NTIA is how policymakers view the future
of the United States in a changing and complex telecommunications and information
age. Some contend that the development of the Internet--the "network of networksw-and the Information Superhighway already are occurring with little or no assistance
from the federal government, and that this development should continue unencumbered
by a federal bureaucracy.2z Observers also maintain that a proposed U.S. Trade
Agency can coordinate the U.S. telecommunications position in the gIobal economy, or
that a proposed National Scientific, Oceanic, and Atmospheric Administration (NSOAA)
can coordinate domestic telecommunications policy. But others respond: could a U.S.
Trade Administration adequately address complex and technical telecommunications
issues; or could a KSOAA provide international telecommunications policy in a global
economy? The answer to these questions may reside in how policymakers see
telecommunications development and policy in the next century.
Reflecting concerns over the competitiveness of American companies and national
interest in the role of technoIogica1 innovation and its contribution to economic growth,
the Congress in 1988 created a Technology Administration within the Department of
Commerce (P.L. 100-519). Headed by an Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology,
the Technology Administration was to include the National Institute of Standards and
Technology, the National Technical Information Service, and a "policy analysis office,"
to be known as the Ofice of Technology Policy (sec. 201). This organization was tasked
by law to:
. . . conduct technology policy analyses to improve United States
industrial productivity, technology, and innovation, and cooperate
with United States industry in the improvement of its productivity,
technology, and ability to compete successfully in world markets;
(P.L. 100-519, sec. 201(c)(2)).
2z For more on the Information Superhighway and related issues, see: U.S. Library of
Congress. Congressional Research Service. The Information Superhighway: Status and Issues, by
Marcia S. Smith. CRS Report 94-954. December 2, 1994. 24 pages.
z3Prepared by Wendy H. Schacht, Specialist in Science and Technology, Science Policy
The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology report which
accompanied P.L. 100-519 (House Rept. 100-6731111, notes that the Technology
Administration ". . . will provide an advocate at a high level for various technologyoriented components of the Department" and is consistent with congressional intent
regarding technology and innovation as demonstrated in the provisions of P.L. 100-418,
the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (p.17). The Committee expressly
stated that the Technology Administration was not intended to develop an industrial
policy for the United States. This new structure was designed to facilitate the ability
of the Commerce Department to marshal1 its resources to address specific technologyrelated issues. The role of the Technology Administration ". . . is to enhance the ability
of U.S. industries to work together in the face of overseas competition and to coordinate
activities in order to improve our ability to compete successfully in world markets"
P.L. 100-519 also established the position of Assistant Secretary of Commerce for
Technology Policy to direct the Office of Technology Policy (OTP). OTP was mandated
to take over the functions of what was formerly the Office of Productivity, Technology,
and Innovation (OPTI). During the transition, the law stated that the individual
currently serving as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Productivity, Technology,
and Innovation shall serve as the acting Assistant Secretary for Technology Policy.
According to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology report, the new
Office was designed to provide analysis for the Under Secretary. "[Ilts role is advisory
and the Assistant Secretary is not expected to be involved in the management of the
Technology Administration or its other components" (p.39). The Office of Technology
Policv consists of four offices. each suvervised bv a director: Strateeic
- Planning- and
Public Affairs; International Policy; Manufacturing Competitiveness; and Technology
Comaetitiveness. The Office of Metric Programs, which was orimnallv included in OTP,
has ceen moved to the National ~nstituteofstandards and ~echnoiogy.
Evolution of the Office of Technology Policy
The Office of Productivity, Technology, and Innovation: predecessor to OTP, was
established in early 1980 by then Secretary of Commerce Philip M. Klutznick. OPTI
was created as Dart of the reaction to mowing concerns that U.S. industrial innovation
was declining, with negative consequences for U.S. economic growth, productivity
imvrovement. and international trade comvetitiveness. In March 1972,President Nixon
delivered to dongress the first presidentiaimessage on science and technology in which
he called for a partnership between the federal government and private industry to
marshal1 research and development to strengthen the economy and improve the quality
of life. However, by the mid to late 1970s, there were trends in a number of R&Drelated indicators which suggested a weakening U.S. innovation performance relative
to past levels and to foreign competition.
In response, President Carter initiated a Domestic Policy Review on Industrial
Innovation (May 1978) to identify and recommend federal activities to encourage
increased industrial productivity and the development and application of new
technology. Representatives from industry, academia, government, and the public
participated in the effort to illuminate policies detrimental to the innovation process
and to enumerate positive steps to increase the innovative capabilities of American
industry. At the end of October 1979, Mr. Carter announced his plan to provide what
he saw as a positive environment for innovation. While the initiatives constituted an
acknowledgement that the government had a role to play in the promotion of
innovation, the programs and activities offered did not constitute the creation of a
general policy in this arena. Instead they were separate efforts which the
Administration expected would improve the U.S. economic environment. The
establishment of the Office of Productivity, Technology, and Innovation was viewed as
one way to provide information, analysis, and coordination for the government in its
endeavor to encourage private sector innovation.
OPTI was headed by an Assistant Secretary for Productivity, Technology, and
Innovation (formerly the Assistant Secretary for Science and Technology) and was
intended to be "...the prime focal point within the Department for cooperative efforts
between government and the private sector to enhance productivity and innovation in
American i n d ~ s t r y . " ~In 1980, P.L. 96-480, the Stevenson-Wydler Technology
Innovation Act of 1980, provided the legislative basis for this Office. Although the
name given in this law was the Office of Industrial Technology, OPTI continued to
perform the delegated duties including, as identified in the Senate report on the bill
(Senate Rept. 96-7811, determinations of the relationships between technology
development, innovation, productivity, and global trade competition; recommendations
for ways to augment innovation; studies; and policy pilot projects. The National
Technical Information Service was placed under OPTI. Additional responsibilities
which were assigned to the Office were the operation of a Center for the Utilization of
federal Technology (eventually located in the National Technical Information Service)
and Centers for Industrial Technology (which were never developed and whose mandate
was repealed under subsequent legislation).
Today, the Office of Technology Policy is involved in various activities deemed
important to the evaluation and promotion of policies designed to "[ilmprove the
business climate for private-sector innovation and investment [and] improve the
efficiency and effectiveness of federal civilian technology efforts to maximize their
impact on competitiveness, economic growth, and job ~reation."'~Among these are
a manufacturing assessment study and a project "benchmarking" the industrial
competitiveness of U.S. firms in the international marketplace. The Office also
manages several international science and technology agreements and is required to
evaluate the state of government-industry partnerships.
The Off~ceof the Under Secretary for Technology received its initial appropriation
of $3.9 million in FY1990. Of this, $2.6 million was prorated for the Office of
Technology Policy with 25 full time equivalent positions. In FY1995, $10 million was
appropriated for the Under Secretary, with $7 million for OTP to fund 40 employees.
However, the rescission package lowered the total to $8.2 million of which $5.7 million
went to OTP. The FYI996 appropriation, mandated under P.L. 104-134, was $7
24Addressby Secretary of Commerce Philip M. Klutznick, Feb. 29, 1980. p. 7
25Testimony by former Secretary of Commerce Ronald H. Brown before the Senate
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on January 31, 1995 in: U.S. Congress.
Senate. Committee on Commerce. Science. and Trans~ortation. Oversight hearing on the
science and technology programs of the ~ e ~ a r t m eofn tcommerce. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print.
million. During 1996, the latest version of the Department of Commerce elimination
bill (H.R. 25861, the FYI997 House Budget Resolution, and the Omnibus Civilian
Science Authorization Act of 1996 (H.R. 3322) sought to terminate this entity.
However, the Technology Administration was funded for FY1997.
Administration's budget proposal for FY1997, the President requested $9.531 million
for the Under Secretary for Technology and the Office of Technology Policy. The
FYI997 Commerce, State, and Judiciary Appropriations bill (H.R. 38141, as passed by
the House, provided $5 million for this program in FY1997, while the Senate
Appropriations Committee recommended $7.5 million. The Omnibus Consolidated
Appropriations Act for FYI997 (P.L. 104-2081provides $9.5 million, which includes $2.5
million for the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Commission.
Debate Over Elimination of the Technology Administration
The creation of the Technology Administration was one of several attempts to
assist American companies facing increased competitive pressures in the international
marketplace from firms based in countries where governments actively promote
commercial technology development and application. Governmental efforts to facilitate
technological advance have been particularly difficult because of the absence of a
consensus on the need for an articulated policy. Technology demonstration and
commercialization have traditionally been considered private sector functions in the
United States. While over the years there have been various programs and policies
(such as tax credits, technology transfer to industry, and patents), the approach had
been ad hoc and uncoordinated. Much of the program development was based upon
what individual committees judged appropriate for the agencies over which they have
Proponents of the Technology Administration argue that it offers a central focus
for governmental activity in technology matters. It is intended to be an organization
with which the private sector can work to develop an environment conducive to
innovation and the economic growth it can engender. Yet, it does not make industrial
policy; technological issues and responsibilities remain shared among the Department
of Commerce, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, the Department of
Defense, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Department
of Agriculture. the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Office of Science and
Technology Policy, the Council of Economic Advisors, and others.
A diffused approach can offer varied responses to varied issues. However, it has
sometimes resulted in actions which, if not a t cross purposes, may not have accounted
for the impact of policies or practices in one area on other parts of the process.
Technology issues involve components which often operate both separately and in
concert. In some cases, the importance of interrelationships may be underestimated and
their usefulness may suffer. The Technology Administration, supporters emphasize,
provides a means by which the numerous issues and concerns related to technological
advancement can be discussed and addressed.
On the other hand, those who advocate the elimination of the Technology
Administration maintain that such an office is unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer
dollars. The government has no interest in directly supporting the technology
development that is the responsibility of the private sector. Nor should the government
be active in "partnering" with industry. Instead, federal funding should be restricted
to basic research and that R&D tied to the mission requirements of the federal
departments and agencies.
In place of such efforts, opponents propose the creation of tax incentives which,
they argue, will provide the capital resources necessary for industry to invest in
additional research and development. Many see capital formation as the largest barrier
to American innovation and promote a permanent and expanded research and
experimentation tax credit and changes to the capital gains tax to increase the amount
of funding available for industrial use. Thus, there is no rationale for an organization
such as the Technology Administration.
Whatever decisions are made, i t is useful to note that the relationship between
government and industry is a major factor affecting innovation and the environment
within which technological development takes place. In the past, this relationship has
tended to be adversarial, with the government acting to regulate or restrain the
business community, rather than to facilitate its positive contributions to the Nation.
However, the situation is changing; it has become increasingly apparent that lack of
cooperation can be detrimental as American firms face competition from companies in
countries where close collaboration is the norm. There are an increasing number of
areas where the traditional distinctions between public and private sector functions and
responsibilities have become blurred. Many assumptions have been questioned,
particularly in light of the increased internationalization of the U.S. economy. The
business sector is no longer be viewed in an exclusively domestic context; the economy
of the United States is often tied to the economies of other nations. The technological
superiority long held by the United States in many areas is being challenged by other
industrialized countries in which economic, social, and political policies and practices
foster government-industry cooperation in technological development. At issue is
whether or not efforts to accommodate these changes would likely be terminated or
enhanced if the TechnologyAdministration, along with the Office of Technology Policy
and the Industrial Technology Services programs of the National Institute of Standards
and Technology (see above), are eliminated.
The Office of Air and Space Commercialization (OASC) was formally established
in 1988 as the Office of Space Commerce. As part of the Office of the Secretary of
Commerce, it is DOC'S principal unit for the coordination of commercial space-related
issues, programs, and initiatives. OASC was created to work with the private sector:
other federal agencies, and state and other governmental entities to develop national
policies with respect to the commercial use of space. Its responsibility is to advise the
Secretary and Deputy Secretary on the formulation and implementation of national
policies. These policies are developed to foster the growth and international
26Preparedby David P. Radzanowski, Analyst in Aemspace Policy, Science Policy Research
competitiveness of the U.S. commercial space sector, and promote the commercial use
of space by U.S. private industryJ7
The Office currently has four policy priorities:
1) Assist in implementing the Administration's commercial remote sensing policy,
formally known as the U.S. Policy on Foreign Access to Remote Sensing Space
in implementing the U.S. National Space Transportation Policy (NSTC-4);
3) Monitor and, if necessaq, participate in the negotiation of international launch
trade agreements with foreign governments; and,
4) Support and track emerging space market trends, including the preparation of
Trends i n Commercial Space (formerly Space Business Indicators), a publication
which tracks emerging commercial space industries.
OASC currently has 4 personnel and a N1996 budget of $457,000. The office is
requesting $500,000 for FY1997.
The latest House proposal, H.R. 2586, would transfer OASC, along with all its
functions and offices, to the proposed new agency, the National Scientific, Oceanic, and
Atmospheric Administration (NSOAA)?' The Senate proposal, on the other hand,
would terminate OASC. Proponents of the House proposal assert that it is necessary
to maintain an industry voice in the federal government as it develops and implements
policies that affect the U.S. commercial space industry. However, the new office would
not have direct access to a cabinet level official and as such would lose some influence
in the administration. Proponents of the Senate proposal assert that OASC currently
has limited influence on policy and that the elimination of the offlce will have little or
no impact at all on the U.S. commercial space industry.
One aspect that may be lost with elimination of OASC is the statistical tracking
of the commercial space industry. In the past couple of years, OASC has not published
statistics on the U.S. commercial space industry. Industry has not adamantly
complained about the lack of data reporting, but it may have led to increased
speculation about the condition and size of U.S. commercial space markets. This
increased speculation may have a negative impact on U.S. commercial space firms'
ability to attain financial backing for future ventures. The argument also can be made
that since the data has not been published recently, it may not be missed if OASC is
27 U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Fiscal Year 1996NASA Authorization, Hearings
before the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics of the Committee on Science. February 13
and March 16, 1995. p. 49.
It should be noted that the House version refers to OASC's original name, the Office of
NATIONAL TECHNICAL INFORMATION SERVICEZg
Established in 1970 by the Secretary of Commerce, the National Technical
Information Service (NTIS) serves as a central and permanent repository of scientific
and technical information collected and disseminated from federal agencies, as well as
from foreign sources (mostly foreign government^).^^ Its collections of 2.5 million
documents and data are available to the general public. By law (P.L. 102-395) NTIS is
required to be self-supporting and operates as a business without annual
appropriations. NTIS receives approximately $40 million per year in revenues from
users to cover operating costs.
Increasingly. NTIS relies on electronic storage, retrieval, and dissemination of
documents and data to serve its clientele. Computerized databases and online
information network systems comprise a large part of these services. For example,
KTIS' FedWorld is an online information network system that allows any user with
access to computer networks to identify and gain access to a broad array of government
information. Over 500,000 people per day use or obtain NTIS documents or data
through FedWorld, and NTIS estimates that its active, long-term customer base for
FedWorld exceeds one million users. Among the many users of this and other NTIS
services are libraries, schools, industry, individuals, and domestic and foreign
information service providers. The last category is made up of U.S. and foreign firms
and representatives of foreign governments which collect data and documents along
with other information and sell it as part of a growing global market for "gray"
H.R 2586 provides that NTIS be transferred to OMB within eighteen months of
passage of the bill into law for the purpose of privatization. Supporters of this
provision contend that if the Department of Commerce is eliminated, it is unlikely that
any other federal agency could easily incorporate NTIS' functions and services. They
also maintain that a privatized NTIS would respond more like a business, bringing with
it both the efficiency and cost controls that a private sector firm could bring to this
service. Some also question whether NTIS serves its public function. Critics contend
that NTIS has tried to skirt its public role by restricting re-dissemination of its
bibliographic data base and writing licensing agreements with private-sector firms for
downstream royalty payments which appear to exceed NTIS' costs.32 Many contend
that since several of these private-sector firms already provide "gray" literature to a
wide range of clients, any of these firms would likely have the incentive to undertake
"prepared by Glenn J. McLoughIin, Specialist in Science and Technology Policy, Science
Policy Research Division.
3%ackgroundinformationon NTIS provided by the Office of the Director, National Technical
and Information Service, Department of Commerce. May 23, 1996.
3 1 ~ r aliterature
is foreign or domestic open source material that usually is available through
specialized channels and may not enter normal channels or systems of publication, distribution,
bibliographic control, or acquisition by booksellers or subscription agents.
32 U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Restructuring the Federal Scientific
Establishment: Dismantling of the Department of Commerce. Hearing before the Committee on
Science. Sept. 12, 1995. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1995. p. 400.
NTIS' functions as well as maintain the integrity and comprehensiveness of the
collections. They argue that NTIS is a government facility providing a private sector
function, and that privatization would bring the burden and benefits where they
rightfully belong, which is in the private sector.
However, opponents to this provision counter that since KTIS is funded through
its user fees and requires no federal appropriation, privatization would not provide the
federal government any direct savings. They also argue that NTIS serves the public
good by providing low-cost information to institutions which rely heavily on it, like
schools, libraries, and the scientific community. The growth of electronic databases and
on-line systems raises additional issues. In an electronic environment, it is easy for
public institutions to make information available to anyone with a computer and a
modem. One effect is to thereby greatly reduce the market value of data as unique or
scarce information. Libraries or universities, which usually provide information for
free, can easily redisseminate information to the public. For NTIS, this poses a problem
since it must recover its costs by charging for information. Yet, for a privatized NTIS,
this could be a n insurmountable problem since it would not only have to recover its
costs but also make a profit while serving the public. How would a privately-run NTIS
continue to make information available at a low cost for the general public if profits are
small or do not exist; if fees are raised to ensure a profit, will the public's access to
In addition, NTIS documents are not copyrighted and its government data and
documents are in the public domain. Would a privatized NTIS remain a comprehensive
collection of public resources when no royalties or other intellectual property fee can
be collected from their re-use? Also, who would benefit if there is no incentive to
protect or maintain information which can be reproduced by competitors?
Another issue arising out of the debate over the future of NTIS is its part in the
Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 (P.L. 104-13). The PRA provides specific
guidelines on how information collected by federal agencies is made available to the
general public. For example, federal agencies cannot charge a requestor more than the
cost of dissemination of information or charge royalties or fees for re-use of the
information, and NTIS cannot assist federal agencies (which receive appropriated funds)
from recovering these costs of information dissemination. These requirements provide
a brake on what federal agencies and NTIS may charge the public. But questions
regarding NTIS' use of restricted bibliographic data, re-dissemination. and downstream
royalty payments again raises concerns about its adherence to the PRA. Supporters of
the current NTIS maintain that it has worked effectively under the PRA, is currently
addressing issues of restriction of data and royalty payments, and that in the future it
is not clear whether a privatized NTIS would consider itself bound under the PRA
Some have made the proposal, separate from H.R. 2586, that NTIS be
reconstituted as a public corporation. It would not be privatized, but it also would no
longer be in the Department of C0mmerce.3~Under this proposal, an executive board
comprised of members from both the public and private sector would run the
corporation. I t likely would receive funding through user fees while its public interest
Ibid., p. 392-8.
is maintained. Supporters of this approach contend that NTIS could operate with less
bureaucracy, respond to market and commercial needs, and still serve the public good
as a public corporation. However, significant questions remain: how would NTIS'
current functions be smoothly transferred to those of a public corporation; what would
the relationship between NTIS as a public corporation and federal agencies be; and how
would the integrity and comprehensiveness of document and data collections be
maintained? So far, these and other questions still remain unanswered.
As discussed above, proposals to eliminate the Department of Commerce would
have significant impacts on DOC S&T agencies, activities, and programs. Legislative
proposals for DOC dismantling have evolved since the original Chrysler bill was
introduced in June 1995, and further refinements and revisions are possible in the
future. While the details may vary, however, all proposals were based on three
overriding themes or philosophies supported by the 104th Congress. First, DOC
dismantling proposals were part of a debate over what role, if any, the federal
government should play in supporting technology development for commercial
application.34 Proposals to terminate programs such as the Advanced Technology
Program and Manufacturing Extension Partnership at NIST, the information
infrastructure grant programs a t NTIA, and the Technology Administration, reflected
the belief that the federal government should not fund applied science and technology
which is more appropriately and efficiently developed by the private sector. In contrast,
opponents of DOC dismantling made the counter-argument that government has an
obligation to support technologies which are critical to U.S. competitiveness, and which
are unlikely, they asserted, to receive adequate financing by the private sector.
Second, the 104th Congress strongly supported reducing and streamlining the
federal bureaucracy. In accordance with this philosophy, DOC dismantling proposals
would have either (1)transferred some essential government functions to other existing
agencies (e.g., NTIA federal spectrum management and trade-related activities to USTR,
NOAA mapping and charting activities to the U.S. Geological Survey and the Defense
Mapping Agency); or (2) consolidated others into an independent, newly-formed agency
(e.g. NIST and NOAA programs combined into a National Scientific, Oceanic, and
Supporters of DOC dismantling would thus streamline
the federal bureaucracy by eliminating the need for a Department of Commerce, while
34Forfurther discussion on the current Congressional debate over appropriate federal roles
in technology development, see: U.S. Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service. The
Federal Role in Technology Development. CRS Report 95-50 SPR, by Wendy Schacht.
Washington, October 15, 1996.
35TheChairman of the House Science Committee, Representative Walker, has gone one step
further, advocating the consolidation of S&T programs and agencies throughout the federal
government into a single Department of Science and Technology. For further information, see:
U.S. Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service. A Department of Science and
Technology: a recurring theme. CRS Report 95-235 SPR, by William C. Boesman. Washington,
Feb. 3, 1995.
retaining essential government functions and services. On the other hand, opponents
argue that DOC S&T programs are effectively integrated into the overall DOC mission,
and that transferring or consolidating these programs would be needlessly expensive
And finally, budget deficit reduction and movement towards a balanced federal
budget continued to be major priorities of the 104th Congress. In tandem with DOC
dismantling legislation, termination of selected DOC programs was also pursued in
budgetary legislation. While none of the DOC S&T agencies or programs were
eliminated in FY1996, most received significant cuts in funding from FYI995 levels
(averaging about 7% overall). For FY1997, the Administration and Congress disagreed
over further cuts for DOC S&T programs. The final FYI997 appropriation as set forth
in the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 104-208) provides an overall
To the extent that DOC
increase of 1%over FYI996 levels for these programs.
dismantling legislation resurfaces in the 105th Congress,budget disagreements between
- and the President, coupled with the Administration's strong- opposition to all
DOC dismantling proposals, promise an uncertain fate for S&T programs in the
Department of Commerce.