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Major Reorganization of NIST Underway

Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra

This week, President Barack Obama signed into a law a major reorganization of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The America Competes Reauthorization Act of 2010 directs NIST, part of the Commerce Department, to develop cloud-computing solutions with private-sector partners to formalize the organization’s cloud posture, according to a report on GovInfoSecurity.

The bill also reorganizes NIST’s hierarchy, making the NIST director also the undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology.

NIST’s national system of laboratories will also undergo a restructuring, with its 10 labs consolidated down to six. However, the Information Technology lab, which works on cybersecurity for the federal government, will remain intact, GovInfoSecurity reports.

In a post on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy blog, federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra said the bill “supports an array of strategies for maintaining America’s leadership in science and technology.”

“Technical standards are not the stuff of everyday conversation, but they are crucial to smart development and economic growth,” he added.

NIST Director Patrick Gallagher said the bill helped to clarify the organization’s priorities.

“In most cases, this is not new programmatic activity,” he said in an interview with Federal News Radio, “but it is giving a boost to things we already are doing. The America Competes Act is our authorization bill and it sets out the authorities that govern what the agency does.”

Other important provisions of the bill include: green buildings and construction, as well as emergency communications and tracking technologies, according to Federal News Radio.

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