President Barack Obama's fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget submitted to Congress for the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) proposes a funding level of $1.001 billion, an 8.9% increase over the president's FY 2011 allocation. The allocation doubles funding for NIST laboratories as part of president's plan for science and innovation and reaffirmed in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-358).

"The president's budget request for NIST reflects the critical role that measurement science, standards and directed technological investments play in ensuring and enhancing the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and U.S. industry," Patrick Gallagher, undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, said in a statement. "Further investments in research and development will also help to generate new innovations that will create the jobs and high-tech industries of the future."

The total request is divided into three appropriations (see sidebar). In addition to the three appropriations, the administration will be submitting authorizing legislation for the auction of spectrum licenses to collect up to an estimated $27 billion in revenue by 2021. Of that revenue, a proposed $500 million would be reallocated to NIST between 2012–2016 for the Public Safety Innovation Fund (PSIF), the standards body’s component of the Wireless Innovation Fund, which is part of the president's Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative (WI3). That initiative proposes to reallocate a total of 500 MHz of federal-agency and commercial-spectrum bands over the next 10 years. The overriding objective is to build a broadband system that will let first responders and other public-safety personnel send and receive data, voice and other communications to save lives, prevent casualties, and avert acts of terror, according to a NIST spokesperson.

Sidebar: NIST FY 2012 budget allocations

For more information on communications for public safety, attend these sessions at IWCE in Las Vegas, March 7-11, 2011.