December 06, 2019

Congressman Joe Neguse Introduces Legislation to Modernize Federal Labs in Colorado

Washington D.C.— Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, who represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District in Colorado and serves as a member of U.S. House Leadership, introduced legislation to invest and modernize federal labs housed in the 2nd Congressional District. The 2nd district is home to some of the country’s most renowned research labs, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), USDA Agricultural Research Service, DOI North Central Climate Science Center, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), consortium laboratories at CU Boulder and Colorado State University, among others. 

The Federal Lab Modernization, new legislation introduced today from Congressman Neguse, directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to complete a report every two years on the status of federal labs infrastructure, and it amends the America COMPETES Act to strengthen reporting requirements for the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director. Under COMPETES, the OSTP Director must report to Congress on the state of science infrastructure. This legislation adds an explicit requirement for the OSTP Director to comment not only on what improvements should be done at federal labs, but what funding levels are needed to complete those improvements. This information is critically important for Congress to have the information to adequately fund the infrastructure that supports our nation’s federal labs.

Over the last 10 months, Congressman Neguse has visited multiple labs across the district and witnessed firsthand the need in some of these labs for updated infrastructure, energy efficiency, climate controls and security. In August, he hosted the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis in his district to tour federal labs. The Committee’s Chair, Ranking Member and others visited NREL, NOAA, CIRES and NCAR and spoke with federal scientists there on their research. 

“Our district is home to some of our nation’s top federal labs, research, and scientists,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “I’ve seen for myself the need for increased investment in infrastructure and security at many of the facilities in our district. Our nation cannot remain a leader in research and development without Congress’ dedication to providing the funding for these much needed improvements at federal laboratories. It is absolutely essential that we provide a pathway for needed modernization that ensure these labs can continue to produce the groundbreaking research that will inform renewable energy solutions, resiliency, preservation of our ecosystems, and much more.” 

Colorado is home to over 30 federally-funded research labs and joint institutes across the state, making it one of the highest concentrations of federally funded science and research centers in the nation. Federally funded research facilities in Colorado contributed an estimated $2.6 billion to the state’s economy in 2016 and supported more than 17,600 jobs, according to a report from the University of Colorado Boulder Leeds School of Business.

“The impact and necessity of our federal labs cannot be overstated,” said Dan Powers, Executive Director, CO-LABS, an non-profit consortium of federally-funded research labs, research universities, economic development groups and private-sector technology companies. “The crucial research we all invest in via our taxes has been the foundational source of our innovative economy going back decades, with federal scientists' discoveries launching and advancing industries from food production to space exploration to public health to computing sciences. In the face of massive investments in R&D by other countries around the globe, particularly China, it is a crucial matter for the United States to give our scientists the most up-to-date equipment and facilities to do their work. The world-class innovative discoveries and knowledge coming out of 300+ national labs across the country is the source of progress for our society. Modernizing our labs is as much an effort of national pride as it is national security.”

“Science conducted in federal research labs across the country serves to protect public health and the environment, safeguard national security, support economic growth, and  spur innovative solutions to challenges great and small,” said Pamitha Weerasinghe, senior Washington representative for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “As we continue to identify ways to strengthen the use science in the federal government, it only makes sense to also ensure that these critical facilities are up to date and in good working order.”

Additionally, Congressman Neguse passed an amendment in the FY2020 appropriations process in support of $120 million, an increase of 13%, for research construction facilities at NIST, and an amendment to secure an additional $1 million, for a total of $49 million, for the NASA Space Grant program, which hosts three consortium programs in the 2nd district. Additionally, the Congressman advocated to secure $644 million, a 14% increase, for NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.