Proposed Overall NIST Budget Cut by a Third but Quantum Information Science to be Prioritized
(AIP.org) The Trump administration proposes to cut the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s budget by a third and reorient its research portfolio toward supporting “Industries of the Future,” including through a “grand challenge” initiative to build out quantum networking capabilities.
The Trump administration’s latest budget request for the National Institute of Standards and Technology seeks $738 million for the agency, a 29% cut from the currently enacted level. As in previous years, the steepest cuts fall on facility construction and industry services, with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program once again targeted for elimination.
Within the reduced budget, NIST states it will prioritize research connected to the administration’s “Industries of the Future” rubric, which includes quantum information science (QIS), artificial intelligence, advanced communications, advanced manufacturing, and biotechnology.
The budget includes $40 million for QIS research, level with the amount Congress specified for fiscal year 2020. NIST states in the coming year it will focus on a “grand challenge” initiative for quantum networking, exploring methods of securely transmitting quantum information between multiple quantum devices and sensors. According to a recent presentation by the director of NIST’s Physical Measurement Lab, the initiative will entail developing local “testbeds” and determining specifications for “plug-and-play” network components.
The QIS funds would also support NIST’s nascent Quantum Economic Development Consortium and existing research institutes at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Maryland. In prioritizing QIS and the associated NIST-on-a-Chip program, NIST states it would discontinue or pare back several measurement services, such as its stewardship of an atomic spectra database.