February 2021 NIST Congressional and Legislative Affairs Constituent Newsletter


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NIST Congressional and
Legislative Affairs

Constituent Newsletter  – February 2021

Recent News

Alert at the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR)

At approximately 9:15 a.m. EST, Feb. 3, 2021, staff at NIST responded to an alert of elevated radiation levels in the confinement building of the NIST Center for Neutron Research on its Gaithersburg, Maryland campus.

The alarm occurred during a restart of the research reactor after a regularly scheduled maintenance period. In response, the reactor automatically shut down and the ventilation system sealed the confinement building and began filtering and recirculating air within it. Radiation levels outside the building remained well below regulatory limits at all times and the public remained safe.

More information can be found in the February 3rd statement and the update released on February 5th.  Additional information will be shared as available. 


Report Released on the 2018 Camp Fire in California

NIST researchers have been investigating the conditions leading up to the 2018 Camp Fire in California and meticulously reconstructing the sequence of events describing the first 24 hours of its progress.  A new report containing the timeline identifies areas where more research is needed to improve life safety and reduce structural losses. It also offers a detailed look at how a large and deadly fire advances — information that will become increasingly valuable as fire seasons continue to intensify.


Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – Proposed Changes to the Bayh-Dole Act

As part of the Return of Investment Initiative, NIST is requesting feedback on proposed changes to regulations that support the University and Small Business Patent Procedures Act of 1980, commonly known as the “Bayh-Dole Act". A notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on January 4, 2021 seeking public comments on the revised regulations. Comments are due no later than April 5, 2021 and should be submitted via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, identified by docket identification (ID) number: 201207-0327.

NIST will hold a public webinar on Thursday, February 25th, 2021 from 3-4:30pm ET. Pre-registration for the live webinar is required and is limited to 150 attendees. Please contact Bethany Loftin at bethany.loftin@nist.gov by 5pm ET on Wednesday, February 24th, 2021 to register for the webinar.

Hurricane Maria Progress Report

In January 2021, NIST published a report summarizing progress in its multi-year study of Hurricane Maria’s impacts on Puerto Rico and subsequent recovery processes. In this effort, launched in 2018, NIST seeks to understand:

  • the hurricane’s wind environment and the conditions that led to injuries and deaths;
  • how critical buildings and designated safe areas within them performed—including their dependence on electricity, water, transportation, and other infrastructure;
  • how emergency communications systems performed and the public’s response to such communications;
  • and the impacts to, and recovery of, selected businesses, hospitals and schools, as well as the critical social functions they provide.

Further details are provided at the following links:

New NICE Framework Users Group

In November 2020, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) released a revision to the Workforce Framework for Cybersecurity (NICE Framework). The revision enables a more flexible and agile model that increases the usefulness and application of the framework. As awareness and adoption continues to grow and mature, so does the cadre of stakeholders who are discovering best practices for how to consult the NICE Framework.

To help with this growth, we have launched a new NICE Framework Users Group as a place to ask questions, share insights, and provide mutual support on how to apply and use the NICE Framework and its associated components in various settings. As a member of the NICE Framework Users Group, you will have the opportunity to collaborate with employers, learners, and training and credential providers. Members of this group will also be added to the NICE Community Coordinating Council. Send an email to join today!


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President Biden’s pick for Secretary of Commerce, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on January 26, 2021.  She was approved by the Commerce Committee, by a vote of 21 to 3 and her nomination will now move to a full vote by the Senate.