WASHINGTON –  The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed the National Institute of Standards and Technology Improvement Act of 2016 (H.R. 5639), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Campus Security Act (H.R. 5636). H.R. 5639 was included in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 as Title IV – to reauthorize the National Institute of Standards and Technology. H.R. 5636 was reported out of committee last week.  

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “I applaud the passage of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Improvement Act of 2016 and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Campus Security Act. NIST supports scientific and technical research and services that are critical to American innovation and industrial competitiveness.  H.R. 5639 authorizes programs that help maintain industrial and technical standards and promote U.S. innovation and international competitiveness that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.  

“H.R. 5636 is an important step forward to analyze the work of NIST’s police services group and outside contractors to ensure that they are adequately securing both NIST campuses to protect NIST employees, contractors, visitors, and surrounding communities from any potential hazards. This legislation, and a thorough review, evaluation, and report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office will provide further recommendations and options to ensure a safe and secure NIST in the future. I thank my Science Committee colleagues for their initiative on these issues and look forward to these important pieces of legislation reaching the Senate.”  

Research and Technology Subcommittee Vice-Chairman John Moolenaar (R- Mich.): “Reauthorizing NIST means it can continue to provide small manufacturers with the expertise and advice they need when investing in new technologies crucial to the competitiveness of American companies and workers. NIST conducts research that enhances our nation’s technology, our economic security and our quality of life. I thank my colleagues for their support and look forward to working with the Senate to reauthorize these important programs."

Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.): “As a small business owner and the former director of a non-profit, I know how important accountability is to the success and future of an organization. It is inexcusable that an important government agency like NIST is lagging behind in accountability – especially when it comes to the security and protection of its campuses and its employees. That’s why the House passed my bill, H.R. 5636, that takes a monumental step to protect the safety of those who work, visit, and live in the vicinity of NIST campuses. I look forward to working with the Senate to ensure accountability and effective security at one of our nation’s oldest physical science laboratories.”

The NIST Improvement Act of 2016 authorizes the policy and programs of NIST, the leading Department of Commerce technology agency. These programs contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness, including NIST laboratory programs, education and research initiatives for young scientists, and industrial technical services.  

The NIST Campus Security Act helps improve the safety and security of NIST facilities and their surrounding areas.  In the past year, a now former NIST police officer, who was previously the acting chief of police at the Gaithersburg, Maryland, campus caused an explosion while attempting to manufacture methamphetamine.  In addition, at the Boulder, Colorado campus, an individual with no identification that was not a NIST employee was found in a secure NIST building where he could have been exposed to potentially hazardous, poisonous chemicals.