In the last week before Congress breaks for the national conventions and August recess, the House passed two newly-introduced bills relevant to scientists and researchers. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Improvement Act of 2016 (H.R. 5639), which passed by voice vote, would reauthorize NIST through Fiscal Year 2017.
The agency was created to promote U.S. innovation and competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology, and the reauthorization aims to enhance education and outreach efforts (including research and post-doctoral fellowship opportunities), improve industrial technical services, and require independent review of laboratory programs. Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) expressed uncertainty with “the purpose or efficacy of this legislation at this time,” citing a number of concerns, including the rushed nature of the legislation and the bill’s exclusion of feedback from experts.
The House also passed H.R. 5658, the Tested Ability to Leverage Exceptional National Talent (TALENT) Act of 2016 by an overwhelming margin of 409 to 8. H.R. 5658 codifies the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program, which was established in 2012 to attract innovators to government positions to address issues at the intersection of policy, technology, and process. Neither bill has been taken up by the Senate.