Memorandum Returning Without Approval a Bill Relating to Federal Expenditures for Manufacturing Technologies

October 30, 1984

I am withholding my approval of H.R. 5172, which includes the ``National Bureau of Standards Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1985'' (Title I), clarifications of the role of the National Science Foundation in engineering research and education (Title II), and the ``Manufacturing Sciences and Robotics Research and Development Act of 1984'' (Title III). Title I would, among other things, authorize appropriations for certain Department of Commerce programs for fiscal year 1985, for which appropriations have already been enacted.

Title III of H.R. 5172 would establish a new program providing Federal financial support for a variety of research, development, education, and training activities, whose purported purpose would be to improve manufacturing technologies, including robotics and automation. These activities would total $250 million during fiscal years 1985 - 1988, and represent an unwarranted role for the Federal government. The decisions on how to allocate investments for research on manufacturing technologies are best left to American industry. It is highly doubtful that this Act and resulting Federal expenditures would improve the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing.

The new role for the Federal government contemplated by Title III could also serve as the basis for a Federal industrial policy to influence our Nation's technological development. This Administration has steadfastly opposed such a role for the Federal government.

My Administration has fostered the development of a robust and improving economy, which will do more than anything to improve the growth and productivity of the industrial sector. We will continue our efforts to improve the general economy, the regulatory environment, and tax policies that are essential if U.S. industry is to remain competitive. I cannot, however, approve legislation that would result in significant Federal expenditures with little or no assurance that there are any benefits to be gained.

I am, therefore, constrained to withhold my approval from H.R. 5172.

Ronald Reagan

The White House,

October 30, 1984.