Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Public Law No: 108-153 (12/03/2003)

21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act - (Sec. 2) Requires the President to implement a National Nanotechnology Program to: (1) establish the goals, priorities, and metrics for evaluation for Federal nanotechnology research, development, and other activities; (2) invest in Federal research and development programs in nanotechnology and related sciences to achieve those goals; and (3) provide for interagency coordination of Federal nanotechnology activities undertaken pursuant to the Program.

Requires the Program's activities to include: (1) developing a fundamental understanding of matter that enables control and manipulation at the nanoscale; (2) providing grants to investigators; (3) establishing a network of advanced technology user facilities and centers; (4) establishing, on a merit-reviewed and competitive basis, interdisciplinary nanotechnology research centers; (5) ensuring U.S. global leadership in the development and application of nanotechnology; (6) advancing U.S. productivity and industrial competitiveness through investments in long-term scientific and engineering research in nanotechnology; (7) accelerating the deployment and application of nanotechnology research and development in the private sector; (8) encouraging interdisciplinary research and ensuring that processes for solicitation and evaluation of proposals under the Program encourage interdisciplinary projects and collaboration; (9) providing effective education and training for researchers and professionals skilled in the interdisciplinary perspectives necessary for nanotechnology to foster an interdisciplinary research culture; (10) taking specified steps to ensure that ethical, legal, environmental, and other appropriate societal concerns are considered during the development of nanotechnology; and (11) encouraging research on nanotechnology advances that utilize existing processes and technologies.

Requires the National Science and Technology Council to oversee the planning, management, and coordination of the Program. Directs the Council to: (1) establish Program goals and priorities; (2) establish Program component areas that reflect such goals and priorities; (3) oversee interagency coordination of the Program including coordination with the activities of the Defense Nanotechnology Research and Development Program and the National Institutes of Health; (4) develop, within 12 months of enactment of this Act, and update every three years thereafter, a strategic plan for the Program; (5) propose a coordinated interagency Program budget to the Office of Management and Budget; (6) exchange information with academic, industry, State and local government, and other appropriate groups conducting research on and using nanotechnology; (7) develop a plan to utilize Federal programs, such as the Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer Research Program, in support of activities to accelerate the deployment and application of nanotechnology research and development in the private sector; (8) identify and address research areas that are not addressed adequately by the agencies' current research programs; (9) encourage progress on Program activities through the use of existing facilities and infrastructures; (10) in carrying out the foregoing responsibilities, take into consideration the recommendations of the Advisory Panel established by this Act, suggestions or recommendations developed through public participation, and the views of academic, State, industry, and other appropriate groups conducting research on and using nanotechnology; and (11) prepare an annual report on the Program and submit such report to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, the House Science Committee, and other appropriate committees.

(Sec. 3) Requires the President to establish a National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO), with a Director and full-time staff, to: (1) provide technical and administrative support to the Council and the Advisory Panel created by this Act; (2) serve as the point of contact on Federal nanotechnology activities; (3) conduct public outreach, including dissemination of Advisory Panel findings and recommendations, as appropriate; and (4) promote access to and early application of the technologies, innovations, and expertise derived from Program activities to agency missions and systems across the Federal Government and to U.S. industry, including startup companies. Requires the NNCO to be funded through funds currently available for interagency funding.

Requires the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to report to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and the House Science Committee on the funding of the NNCO within 90 days of enactment of this Act.

(Sec. 4) Requires the President to establish or designate a National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel, composed primarily of members from academic institutions and industry, to advise the President and Council on matters relating to the Program, including an assessment of: (1) trends and developments in nanotechnology science and engineering; (2) progress toward Program implementation; (3) necessary Program revisions; (4) the balance among Program components, including component area funding levels; (5) whether the Program component areas, priorities, and technical goals developed by the Council are helping to maintain U.S. leadership in nanotechnology; (6) the management, coordination, implementation, and activities of the Program; and (7) whether societal, ethical, legal, environmental, and workforce concerns are addressed adequately by the Program. Requires the Advisory Panel to report to the President at least once every two years on such assessments and its recommendations for Program improvements and to transmit copies of each such report to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, the House Science Committee, and other appropriate committees.

Provides travel expenses for non-Federal members of the Advisory Panel.

Exempts the Advisory Panel from the sunset provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

(Sec. 5) Requires the Director of the NNCO to enter into an arrangement with the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a triennial evaluation of the Program, including: (1) an evaluation of the Program's technical accomplishments; (2) a review of the Program's management and coordination across agencies and disciplines; (3) a review of funding levels at each agency for the Program's activities; (4) an evaluation of the Program's success in transferring technology to the private sector; (5) an evaluation of whether the Program has successfully fostered interdisciplinary research and development; (6) an evaluation of the extent to which the Program has considered adequately ethical, legal, environmental, and other appropriate societal concerns; (7) recommendations for new or revised Program goals; (8) recommendations for new research areas, partnerships, coordination and management mechanisms, or programs to achieve the Program's stated goals; (9) recommendations on policy, program, and budget changes with respect to nanotechnology research and development; (10) recommendations for improved metrics to evaluate the success of the Program; (11) a review of the performance of the NNCO and its efforts to promote access to and early application of technologies, innovations, and expertise derived from Program activities to agency missions and systems across the Federal Government and U.S. industry; (12) an analysis of the relative position of the United States relative to other nations with respect to nanotechnology research and development; and (13) an analysis of the current impact of nanotechnology on the U.S. economy and recommendations for increasing its future impact.

Requires the NRC, as part of the first triennial evaluation, to conduct one-time studies to: (1) determine the technical feasibility of molecular self-assembly for the manufacture of materials and devices at the molecular scale; and (2) assess the need for standards, guidelines, or strategies for ensuring the responsible development of nanotechnology.

Requires the Director of the NNCO to transmit, upon receipt, the results of any evaluation for which it made arrangements under the provisions of this Act to the Advisory Panel, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and the House Science Committee.

(Sec. 6) Authorizes appropriations for the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Environmental Protection Agency to carry out responsibilities under this Act.

(Sec. 7) Requires the Director of NIST to establish a program to: (1) conduct basic research on issues related to the development and manufacture of nanotechnology, including metrology, reliability and quality assurance, processes control, and manufacturing best practices; and (2) utilize the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program to the extent possible to ensure that such research reaches small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies.

Requires the Secretary of Commerce or his designee to establish a clearinghouse of information related to commercialization of nanotechnology research.

(Sec. 8) Requires the Secretary of Energy to establish a program to support, on a merit-reviewed and competitive basis, consortia to conduct interdisciplinary nanotechnology research and development designed to integrate newly developed nanotechnology and microfluidic tools with systems biology and molecular imaging. Allocates sums authorized for the DOE for such program. Requires the Secretary to carry out projects to develop, plan, construct, acquire, operate, or support special equipment, instrumentation, or facilities for investigators conducting research and development in nanotechnology.

(Sec. 9) Requires the Program to establish, on a merit-reviewed and competitive basis, an American Nanotechnology Preparedness Center to: (1) conduct, coordinate, collect, and disseminate studies on the societal, ethical, environmental, educational, legal, and workforce implications of nanotechnology; and (2) identify anticipated issues related to the responsible research, development, and application of nanotechnology and make recommendations to address such issues.

Requires the Program to establish, on a merit-reviewed and competitive basis, a Center for Nanomaterials Manufacturing to: (1) promote research on new manufacturing technologies for materials, devices, and systems with new combinations of characteristics; and (2) develop mechanisms to transfer such technologies to U.S. industries. Requires the Council, through the Director of the NNCO, to submit to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and the House Science Committee: (1) within six months after enactment of this Act, a report identifying which agency will be the lead agency and which other agencies, if any, will be responsible for establishing the Centers described in this section; and (2) within 18 months after enactment, a report describing how the Centers described in this section have been established.

(Sec. 10) Defines "nanotechnology" as the science and technology that will enable one to understand, measure, manipulate, and manufacture at the atomic, molecular, and supramolecular levels, aimed at creating materials, devices, and systems with fundamentally new molecular organization, properties, and functions.