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Highlights from the President's FY17 Department of Commerce Budget Request

February 11, 2016

Enacted FY16 funding levels are used for comparisons unless otherwise noted.
The president’s FY17 budget request for the Department of Commerce (DOC) totals $12.1 billion (18.4 percent increase over FY16 enacted), with $9.7 billion in discretionary (5.2 percent increase) and $2.3 billion mandatory funds (150.5 percent increase). Much of the increase in discretionary funding would be allocated for preparations for the 2020 Decennial Census at the Bureau of the Census and for new weather satellites at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would also receive a boost, with $1 billion in discretionary funding (5 percent increase), and $2 billion in additional mandatory funding for the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) and for the construction of research facilities. Economic Development Administration (EDA) discretionary funding would fall to $258.5 million (0.1 percent decrease), but would receive an extra $50 million in mandatory funding for a new Lab-to-Market competitive grant program. EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies program would see its funding increased to $20 million (33.3 percent increase).

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Proposed discretionary funding for NIST totals $1 billion (5 percent increase), along with $2 billion in mandatory funds (new funding). The new mandatory funds would support the NNMI ($1.9 billion) and the construction of new research facilities ($100 million). NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness through laboratory research and outreach to industry, particularly manufacturers. Under the requested budget, NIST is to play the central role in DOC’s innovation strategy, through the expansion of the NNMI and the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

NIST Industrial Technology Services would receive $189 million (21.9 percent increase) in discretionary funds in FY17 to support NIST MEP and the NNMI. MEP, the NIST-supported, federal-state-industry partnership that provides U.S. manufacturers with access to technologies, resources and industry experts, would be allocated $142 million (9.5 percent increase). The additional funds would be used to complete the final round of the multi-year competition of MEP centers, maintain current centers, and provide funding for additional performance-based awards to high-performing centers. A minimum of $121 million is to be used for direct funding of centers. NIST will work in FY17 to reduce variation in funding across the network and devote more funds to very small (1-19 employees), rural and startup firms.

The budget would provide $47 million (87.6 percent increase) in discretionary funds to NNMI, along with the $1.9 billion (new funds) in mandatory funding. Within the discretionary funds, $42 million would support Commerce’s Manufacturing Innovation institute slated for launch in FY16 and the launch of two new institutes through the Department of Commerce in FY17. The remaining $5 million would be used to coordinate the national network of institutes. The mandatory funding would be used to launch an additional 27 institutes over the next 10 years, bringing the total to 45.

NIST’s Scientific and Technical Research and Services supports NIST laboratory programs, which would receive $730.5 million (5.9 percent increase) in FY17. NIST laboratory initiatives for the year include research and development investments in measurement science for future computing technologies and applications, ensuring a world-class neutron research facility, advanced communications, advanced sensing for manufacturing bio-manufacturing and the Lab-to-Market initiative. Funding for NIST Lab-to-Market is proposed at $8 million.

Another $95 million (20.2 percent decrease) in discretionary funds is proposed for Construction of Research Facilities. This, however, is accompanied by $100 million in mandatory funding.

Economic Development Administration (EDA)
The president is proposing $258.5 million (1 percent decrease) for EDA in FY17, of which $215 million (3.2 percent decrease) would be devoted to Economic Development Assistance Programs (EDAP). Though EDAP funding would be marginally decreased, support for salaries and expenses would be increased to $43.5 million (11.4 percent increase) to bolster efforts to help communities and regions make use of federal economic development resources. This includes the coordination of several cross-agency efforts including the Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization Plus (POWER+) plan to aid communities impacted by the restructuring of the coal economy, and the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, which focuses federal economic development aid on communities with strong strategies to strengthen manufacturing and supply chains.

EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program would receive a boost to $20 million (33.3 percent increase) in FY17. The increase would support the fourth annual RIS competition, which supports efforts to promote and strengthen regional innovation clusters and to foster innovation-based regional economies. In addition, EDA would expand on new programs it is developing in FY16, including a broadening of the RIS program through additional competitions to fund novel efforts that support innovation clusters and facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technologies from federal labs to private industry.

Other EDAP appropriations include (funding comparisons to FY17 base level):

  • Public Works - $85 million (15 percent decrease)
  • Economic Adjustment Assistance - $50 million (4.3 percent increase)
  • Partnership Planning - $35 million (9.4 percent increase)
  • Technical Assistance - $12 million (14.3 percent increase)
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance - $10 million (23.1 percent decrease)
  • Research and Evaluation - $3 million (100 percent increase)

No funding is provided for Sec. 26 Innovative Manufacturing Loan Guarantees. EDA will fund its first loan guarantees under this program in FY17 using previously appropriated funds.

The new EDA Lab-to-Market program would receive $50 million in mandatory funds to accelerate technology transfer from federal labs.  Investment would take the form of competitive grants to incentivize regional collaborations between labs, academia and regional economic development organizations.

Other DOC Agencies
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be appropriated $5.8 billion (1.3 percent increase) in discretionary funds in FY17 under the president’s request. Of that amount, $2.3 billion would invest in next-generation weather and environmental satellites.  NOAA’s R&D functions under Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), including laboratories, programs, cooperative institutes and 33 sea grant institutions, would receive $519.8 million.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) would receive $3.2 billion (level funding) in discretionary appropriations, drawn from USPTO fees. The program is instructed to further implement the recommendations of the president’s Patent Task Force, and participate in the Computer Science for All initiative by launching a national network of teacher training institutes to improve CS professional development.

The budget includes $521.4 million (7.9 percent increase) for the International Trade Administration. This funding includes $20 million (100 percent increase) to expand the SelectUSA program, which recruits foreign businesses to invest and create jobs in the U.S.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis would receive $110.7 million (level funding), and is instructed to begin work on a Regional Economic Dashboard featuring GDP by county and other data.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) would be allocated $50.8 million in discretionary funds in FY17. NTIA broadband funding would be reduced, but funding for the BroadbandUSA initiative to expand community access to high-speed Internet would increase to $9.8 million from a base level of $5.7 million.

Funding for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) would total $35.6 million (11.3 percent increase) in discretionary funds.



fy17budget, federal budget