Statement on Signing the National Bureau of Standards Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1983

October 7, 1982

I have signed into law S. 2271, which authorizes appropriations for the National Bureau of Standards, the National Technical Information Service, and the Office of Productivity, Technology and Innovation for fiscal year 1983.

While I am pleased to join Congress in support of the worthy endeavors of these agencies, I am concerned to note that S. 2271 stipulates minimum funding levels for four of the National Bureau of Standards' seven activities. These minimums constitute $17.2 million or approximately 15 percent of the total $117.9 million authorized for appropriation for them. Of the $17.2 million, $7.9 million is earmarked in excess of that requested for metals processing, computer science and technology, and robotics research and development. The minimum funding levels specified in these cases divert funds from what the administration considers high priority programs to programs that should more appropriately be conducted by the private sector.

Specification of minimum funding levels in authorization and appropriation legislation diminishes and restricts the Executive's ability to respond to new developments, particularly in the area of science where discoveries cannot be predicted and may require changes in the direction of research and development.

Therefore, while I am signing S. 2271, I urge Congress to abandon the practice of specifying minimum funding levels in the future. They can be harmful to the Nation as the administration strives to reduce Federal spending and to react effectively to new situations and conditions.

Note: As enacted, S. 2271 is Public Law 97 - 286, approved October 6.