PCAST: The National Nanotechnology Initiative at Five Years: Assessment and Recommendations of the National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel (2005)

Date Published

The President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2004 Budget, released in February 2003, tasked the President’s Council of
Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) with reviewing the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) and
making recommendations for strengthening the program. Congress ratified the need for an outside advisory
body with its passage of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003 (the Act),
which called for the President to establish or designate a National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel (NNAP).
By Executive Order, the President designated PCAST as the NNAP in July 2004. To augment its own expertise
in managing large research and development (R&D) programs, PCAST identified a Technical Advisory Group
(TAG) comprising about 45 nanotechnology experts representing diverse disciplines and sectors across
academia and industry. The TAG is a knowledgeable resource, providing input and feedback with a more
technical perspective. 

The Act calls upon the NNAP to assess the NNI and to report on its assessments and make recommendations
for ways to improve the program at least every two years. This is the first such periodic report provided by
PCAST in its role as the NNAP.

The Administration has identified nanotechnology as one of its top R&D priorities. When FY 2005 concludes
later this year, over 4 billion taxpayer dollars will have been spent since FY 2001 on nanotechnology R&D.

In addition, the President’s FY 2006 Budget includes over $1 billion for nanotechnology research across 11
Federal agencies. Such a substantial and sustained investment has been largely based on the expectation
that advances in understanding and harnessing novel nanoscale properties will generate broad-ranging
economic benefits for our Nation. As such, the NNAP members believe the President, the Congress,
and the American people are seeking answers to four basic questions relative to the Federal investment in
nanotechnology R&D:

1. Where Do We Stand?
2. Is This Money Well Spent and the Program Well Managed?
3. Are We Addressing Societal Concerns and Potential Risks?
4. How Can We Do Better?