May 05, 2021

Congressman Neguse Leads Push to Increase Funding for Colorado’s Federal Labs

This funding will spur necessary scientific research as well as update the condition of research laboratory buildings

Washington D.C.— Congressman Joe Neguse is leading a push to increase federal funding in the next fiscal year for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In two letters addressed to Appropriators in Congress, Representative Neguse emphasized the importance of these federal labs to the well-being of the nation, from predicting climate patterns to enhancing cybersecurity. Colorado alone is home to over 30 federally-funded research labs and joint institutes across the state, many which are located in Congressman Neguse’s district, making Colorado a hub of federally funded science and research centers and a beneficiary of increased funding. Both NIST and NOAA have facilities in Boulder, Colorado as well as several joint research institutes with the University of Colorado and Colorado State University.

“Our district is home to some of our nation’s top federal labs, leading the way on renewable energy solutions, resiliency, preservation of our ecosystems and more,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “I’ve seen for myself the need for increased investments in infrastructure improvements, repairs, and maintenance at many of the facilities in our district. I’m requesting robust federal funding for these labs in this year’s appropriations process as our nation cannot remain a leader in research and development without Congress’ dedication to providing the funding for much needed improvements at our federal laboratories. This request builds on our Federal Labs Modernization Act, which will ensure we are consistently assessing the infrastructure and security needs of our federal labs to ensure we are supporting our scientists and groundbreaking research happening at these facilities.”

In March of 2021, Congressman Neguse and Congressman Ed Perlmutter reintroduced the Federal Labs Modernization Act to prioritize the investment in and modernization of the nation’s federal labs, many of which are in Colorado. The Act would necessitate a biannual report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate the status of federal labs infrastructure, in addition to other updated measures. Congressman Neguse is committed to prioritizing scientific research, a field in which Colorado excels. 

In today’s letters, Congressman Neguse requested $640 million for NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR). OAR research focuses on forecasting large storms and seasonal wildfires, assessing local impacts of projected sea-level rise, and improving seasonal drought forecasts. It also improves understanding of ocean and atmospheric processes and the marine environment. As climate change worsens, our understanding of these Earth systems will be essential to improving the nation’s resilience. OAR’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory is located in Boulder, CO. 

Read the letter here.

Neguse also requested $938 million in funding, a $250 million increase, for the NIST Scientific and Technical Research Services Account (STRS) to further advance projects in important areas such as quantum science and technology, artificial intelligence, and Internet of things (IoT). Additionally, Neguse requested $180 million, a $100 million increase, for the NIST facilities and construction. 

Finally, Neguse called for the restoration of the NIST Construction Grant Program (NCGP). This program provides competitive grants to universities and non-profit institutions to construct new or expand existing research facilities. It was previously funded for three years (2008-2010) and was scaled through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is currently unfunded. Resurrecting the NCGP will expand access to world-class facilities and ensure continued global competitiveness in key industries of the future such as quantum information science, artificial intelligence, measurement science, and more.

These grants would benefit Colorado and provide an opportunity to upgrade and expand aging research and training facilities, including at joint CU Boulder-NIST institute JILA. Two-thirds of JILA's current laboratories are 50+ years old and insufficient to support today's research needs. Many of the current labs lack sufficient electric power, suffer from excessive vibration caused by aging mechanical systems, and are unable to maintain stable temperature and humidity control. Modernizing these facilities will help Colorado maintain global leadership in physical and quantum sciences research, as well as train our future workforce leaders.  

Read the letter here.