What time is it? The scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) can tell you with the utmost of accuracy. Created by Congress in 1901 as the US government's first physical science research laboratory, NIST is still setting standards that rule industry. In addition the non-federated regulatory agency has developed technologies affecting automated teller machines (ATMs), atomic clocks, and mammograms. NIST also offers co-funding opportunities to businesses. NIST's seven labs are located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Boulder, Colorado. The institute is part of the Department of Commerce's Technology Administration. The agency has a $1.6 billion budget.
NIST functions primarily through four programs. NIST Laboratories conduct research to improve technology infrastructure; the Baldrige National Quality Program rewards US manufacturers, service companies, health care providers, and educational institutions for performance excellence; the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership connects small manufacturers with local technical and business assistance centers; and the Advanced Technology Program funds private-sector technology R&D partnerships.