Senate panel backs nanotech bill

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2002 — The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today unanimously endorsed a bill that would give federal nanotechnology research and development a new, permanent government agency.

The committee also passed a bill that would double the budget of the National Science Foundation during the next five years, which would likely boost the money the NSF spends on nanotechnology. The NSF is the biggest recipient of government money for nanoscale science and engineering research, with a fiscal year 2003 budget of $221 million.

Both bills will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

The Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, introduced Tuesday by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., would create an interagency program to support long-term nanoscience and engineering research and development. It would require the president to establish a program to fund and coordinate nanoscience research among federal agencies, academic laboratories and the private sector.

It authorizes $476 million in fiscal year 2003 and $547 million in fiscal year 2004 for civilian agencies. Department of Defense nanotechnology research and development is not covered by this legislation. Those numbers will be up for debate when the full Senate considers the bill, a Wyden staffer said. An NSF staffer said they are likely to get boosted during that debate.

— Doug Brown


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