Public Laws | Pending Legislation
21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act
P.L. 108-153 (S. 189/S. Rept. 108-147 and H.R. 766/H. Rept. 108-89)
Impact of Public Law
P.L. 108-153, the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, authorizes
programs for nanoscience, nanoengineering, and nanotechnology research. Final provisions
of this Act deleted authorization language and funding levels for the National Institutes of
Health (NIH), but it is expected that NIH will continue to “be an active participant in the
National Nanotechnology Program.”
The Act establishes in statute a National Nanotechnology Research Program with a National
Nanotechnology Coordination Office, and through the authorized partners (National Science
Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Environmental Protection Agency),
requires the awarding of grants and the creation of nanotechnology research centers on a
competitive basis. It also provides for a research program to identify the ethical, legal,
environmental, and other societal concerns related to nanotechnology. Also included in the
final version by the sponsor, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), was a reference to biotechnology.
The legislation is not intended to limit research and development to the physical sciences
but rather is intended to include a wide variety of research, including the biotechnology-
nanotechnology interface, with applications ranging from industrial manufacturing to
advances in medicine to breakthroughs in defense against bioterrorism.
Two bills on nanotechnology research were introduced in the first session of the 108th
Congress. Only the Senate bill included reference to NIH.
S. 189 was introduced by Senator Wyden on January 16, 2003, and it is identical to the bill
that he introduced in the 107th Congress. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee
on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which held a hearing on May 1. NIH submitted
a statement for the record. The bill was reported out of the Senate Committee on
H.R. 766 was introduced by Representative Sherwood L. Boehlert (R-NY) on February 13,
2003, and was referred to the House Committee on Science. On March 19, the House
Committee on Science held a hearing to examine Federal nanotechnology research and
development activities and to consider H.R. 766, which would statutorily authorize these
programs. Questions raised at the hearing were based on a general concern as to whether
the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) would facilitate technology transfer and provide
the United States with a competitive advantage in the global market. Although NNI is
focused on basic research, the witnesses emphasized that NNI already has structures in
place that would facilitate interaction between the research community and the private
sector. The bill was reported out of the House Committee on May 1 and passed the House
on May 7.
On November 18, the Senate passed an amended, preconferenced version of S. 189,
proposed by Senators Wyden and George Allen (R-VA), a version different from that which
had been reported out of Committee on September 15. The House passed S. 189, as
amended, on November 20. Provisions of this Senate- and House-passed bill deleted
authorization levels for NIH at the request of the House, as indicated by Senator Ted
Stevens (R-AK) in his floor statement during debate.
On December 3, the President signed into law S. 189, the 21st Century Nanotechnology
Research and Development Act, as P.L. 108-153.