Doing Business With: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Vital Statistics<@VM>In Profile: Bruce Rosen, associate director of NIST CIO support office

Recent NIST grant winners

*Imaging Therapuetics Inc., which received $2 million to develop low-cost bone micro-architecture analysis using new network-based algorithms for instant feedback of results and interpretations.

*Paradigm Genetics Inc. and Lion Bioscience Inc., which received $11.8 million to develop robust technologies that will improve data integration, transform data from different platforms into one coherent data set, and analyze these data sets to identify gene function or mechanism of action, along with potential product research targets.

*Robomedica Inc., which received $2 million to build and test a robotic step-training device for re-training individuals with neurologic impairments to walk.

*Sehda Inc., which received $1.3 million to develop and demonstrate novel technologies, usable by anyone, to automate the understanding of text and spontaneous conversations by mapping equivalencies in usage of phrases instead of focusing on the meaning of individual words. Sehda's approach is based on statistical modeling of human conversations.

*Teranex Inc. and Sarnoff Corp., which received $2.8 million to develop and demonstrate computational approaches, computer algorithms, and a real-time hardware verification model for a system for monitoring digital video quality without the original source material for a reference.

*Umbanet Inc., which received $2 million to build a security architecture around Internet e-mail that could be adapted readily for a wide variety of organizations and applications, such as bill presentment, online banking, insurance, and health care. The initial target application will be in exchanging data during clinical trials, an area where data security is essential.

Address: 100 Bureau Drive

Gaithersburg, MD 20899-3460

(301) 975-6478

Founded: March 3, 1901

Director: Arden Bement Jr.

Employees: About 4,600

What it does: NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency. Its main goal is to develop and promote measurements, standards and technology to enhance productivity, trade and the quality of life in the United States. There are four main areas: laboratories for conducting research; the Baldrige National Quality Program, which promotes excellence among U.S. manufacturers, service companies, educational institutions and health care providers and gives annually the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award; the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, offering technical and business assistance to smaller manufacturers; and the Advanced Technology Program, which co-funds research and development partnerships with the private sector.

Major subagencies: NIST is a subagency of the Commerce Department. It has two main locations: the headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md., and another in Boulder, Colo.


2002 budget: $680.8 million

2003 request: $577.5 million

Biggest changes of late: NIST's budget request for 2003 is about $103 million less than the 2002 budget. However, according to information on the Web site, funds for key science and technology initiatives are actually increasing to $76 million.


NIST's Advanced Technology Program awards grants for research and development projects in a broad range of areas.

The projects funded by NIST in information technology must track with the industry's changing needs and priorities for a new IT infrastructure.

NIST attempts to identify opportunities for advances in IT that will improve the quality of life and accelerate the development of innovative IT and applications. Another IT-related research area is electronics and photonics.

The programs' goals include increasing productivity in multiple industries and encouraging broad application of the technologies developed.


*Of the 2003 budget request, $5 million is directed at NIST's homeland security efforts. It divides into: $2 million toward public and private partnerships to improve the safety of buildings, occupants and first responders; $2 million to up the security of critical infrastructures; $1 million for the Computer Security Expert Assist Team, which helps agencies identify and fix weaknesses in their IT systems.

*Also in the 2003 request, almost $121 million has been earmarked for technology development and industrial outreach under the Industrial Technology Services appropriation. Of this, about $108 million is to go toward the Advanced Technology Program, and almost $13 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

*NIST has one of the most organized Web sites I've seen. I found all the information I needed quickly and in obvious places, as opposed to having to dig for it. The "Work with us" section on its homepage has complete information for anyone seeking to work with the agency, from companies to academics.

Bruce Rosen, associate director of NIST CIO support office

Henrik G. de Gyor

Hometown: Washington

Home now: Brookeville, Md.

Family: "Two kids, lots of animals."

Hobbies: Working on his cars.

Currently reading: "Centennial" by James Michener

Alma mater: Bachelor's degree in information systems management from the University of Maryland

Are the technology needs of NIST different from those of other agencies? In what ways?

They are different from most government organizations because we are a research and development organization, and R&D in almost any physical science today is very IT intensive. The types of hardware and software needed requires a lot of flexibility across the campus. It's very hard for us to say, "OK, here's the PC we're going to have on everybody's desk for the next three years." We can't do that. While we have an aspect of our IT that is business oriented and, to a certain extent, could be much more controlled, we have the other side, which is you have to have almost total flexibility.

What are the IT challenges the agency faces, as you see them?

Trying to deal with both sides of that type of house.

What do you look for in companies with which you are thinking of doing business?

For hardware, we look for stability, reliability, quality of product. For the services support side, we have a lot of different services contracts, and we're actually looking at trying to consolidate down to a different vehicle under the Commerce Department's COMITS [Commerce Information Technology Services] program. I hesitate to call it a contract, because it will actually be two or three vendors who become involved, but essentially a COMITS vehicle that would allow us to have prequalified vendors. When areas of NIST need IT services, they can just go to these vendors. In doing that, we're looking for people who can float by their own organization, offer the depth and breadth of what we need and also have the subcontractors to fill in the gaps.

A year from now, where do you see NIST's technology capabilities?

On the business side, I would like to see us move to a more controlled environment for those systems that are being used to fulfill business functions. On the other side, we'd like to try to start putting in place, for high-end computing and scientific computing, a grid technology.

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