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 the smart grid. NIST's 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 budget of about $900 million.
NIST functions primarily through three programs. NIST Laboratories conduct research to improve technology infrastructure; the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program rewards US manufacturers, service companies, health care providers, and educational institutions for performance excellence; and the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership connects small manufacturers with local technical and business assistance centers.