The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) FY 2019 budget request includes shutting down “NIST radio stations in Colorado and Hawaii” — in other words, WWV and WWVH. Radio amateurs, HF listeners, and others around the world routinely make use of the time and frequency standard signals, which also include propagation information. NIST said eliminating funding currently “supporting fundamental measurement dissemination” would include putting WWV and WWVH off the air for a saving of $6.3 million. The NIST FY 2019 budget request for efforts related to Fundamental Measurement, Quantum Science and Measurement Dissemination is $127 million, which, the agency said, is a net decrease of $49 million from FY 2018 levels. The Administration’s overall NIST budget request is more than $629 million.
“The proposed reductions will allow NIST to consolidate and focus on narrower core [fundamental] measurement programs while meeting budget levels,” the agency said in its FY 2019 budget summary. “NIST will focus on basic research while reducing funding for efforts applying some of its breakthroughs into new measurement applications.
The FY 2019 proposed budget cuts developed earlier this year came to light via Tom Witherspoon, K4SWL, who maintains The SWLing Post website, after a number of viewers called it to his attention. He posted an article on his blog.
“I’ve always considered WWV and WWVH to be the heartbeat of the shortwaves here in North America — a constant, timely companion and brilliant gauge of HF propagation,” Witherspoon wrote. I assumed both stations would be some of the last to go silent on the shortwaves.”
NIST said other “illustrative” cuts in the FY 2019 budget include:
- $3.5 million for Lab to Market, which seeks to accelerate technology transfer from federal laboratories
- $6.6 million in environmental measurements projects across NIST laboratories, including work measuring the impact of aerosols on pollution and climate change, and gas reference materials used by industry to reduce costs of complying with regulations
- $5.8 million eliminating the NIST Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Measurements program, including Urban Dome research grants to advance the direct measurement of GHG emissions on the scale of cities or regions.
- $6.7 million in forensic science, reducing the program size to $7.3 million by prioritizing measurement science in the NIST labs and eliminating program management functions and external grants for the Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science and the Forensic Science Center of Excellence
- $4.1 million in R&D targeting application of NIST quantum breakthroughs to applied measurement needs, including temperature and atmospheric gas metrology
“I find this budget request very disappointing,” Witherspoon said with respect to the proposed elimination of WWV and WWVH. “Let’s hope, somehow, this does not come to fruition.” He said The SWLing Post would be tracking and posting any new developments.