Request for Information on Identification of New Capabilities Needed by the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program, 90326-90328 [2016-30009]

Download as PDF 90326 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 240 / Wednesday, December 14, 2016 / Notices Topic to be considered: The agenda for the January 10 & 11, 2017 meeting includes providing the newly chartered committee with introductions to the U.S. interagency Environmental Technology Working Group (ETWG). The committee also will discuss its priorities and objectives and deliberate on committee and subcommittee leadership as well as subcommittee topics. Background: The ETTAC is mandated by Section 2313(c) of the Export Enhancement Act of 1988, as amended, 15 U.S.C. 4728(c), to advise the Environmental Trade Working Group of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, through the Secretary of Commerce, on the development and administration of programs to expand U.S. exports of environmental technologies, goods, services, and products. The ETTAC was originally chartered in May of 1994. It was most recently re-chartered until August 2018. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Amy Kreps, Office of Energy & Environmental Industries (OEEI), International Trade Administration, Room 4053, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230. (Phone: 202–482–3835; Fax: 202–482–5665; email: amy.kreps@trade.gov). Dated: December 8, 2016. Edward A. O’Malley, Director, Office of Energy and Environmental Industries. [FR Doc. 2016–29947 Filed 12–13–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DR–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness: Notice of Public Meetings International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice of open meetings. AGENCY: This notice sets forth the schedule and proposed topics of discussion for public meetings of the Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness (Committee). DATES: The meetings will be held on January 25, 2017, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and January 26, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST). ADDRESSES: The meetings on January 25 and 26 will be held at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Research sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 13, 2016 Jkt 241001 Library (Room 1894), Washington, DC 20230. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Richard Boll, Office of Supply Chain, Professional & Business Services (OSCPBS), International Trade Administration. (Phone: (202) 482–1135 or Email: richard.boll@trade.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background: The Committee was established under the discretionary authority of the Secretary of Commerce and in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App. 2). It provides advice to the Secretary of Commerce on the necessary elements of a comprehensive policy approach to supply chain competitiveness designed to support U.S. export growth and national economic competitiveness, encourage innovation, facilitate the movement of goods, and improve the competitiveness of U.S. supply chains for goods and services in the domestic and global economy; and provides advice to the Secretary on regulatory policies and programs and investment priorities that affect the competitiveness of U.S. supply chains. For more information about the Committee visit: http://trade.gov/td/services/oscpb/ supplychain/acscc/. Matters to Be Considered: Committee members are expected to continue to discuss the major competitivenessrelated topics raised at the previous Committee meetings, including trade and competitiveness; freight movement and policy; trade innovation; regulatory issues; finance and infrastructure; and workforce development. The Committee’s subcommittees will report on the status of their work regarding these topics. The agendas may change to accommodate Committee business. The Office of Supply Chain, Professional & Business Services will post the final detailed agendas on its Web site, http:// trade.gov/td/services/oscpb/ supplychain/acscc/, at least one week prior to the meeting. The meetings will be open to the public and press on a first-come, firstserved basis. Space is limited. The public meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Individuals requiring accommodations, such as sign language interpretation or other ancillary aids, are asked to notify Mr. Richard Boll, at (202) 482–1135 or richard.boll@trade.gov five (5) business days before the meeting. Interested parties are invited to submit written comments to the Committee at any time before and after the meeting. Parties wishing to submit written comments for consideration by PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 the Committee in advance of this meeting must send them to the Office of Supply Chain, Professional & Business Services, 1401 Constitution Ave NW., Room 11014, Washington, DC, 20230, or email to richard.boll@trade.gov. For consideration during the meetings, and to ensure transmission to the Committee prior to the meetings, comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on January 18, 2017. Comments received after January 18, 2017, will be distributed to the Committee, but may not be considered at the meetings. The minutes of the meetings will be posted on the Committee Web site within 60 days of the meeting. Dated: December 8, 2016. Maureen Smith, Director, Office of Supply Chain. [FR Doc. 2016–29937 Filed 12–13–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DR–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Institute of Standards and Technology [Docket No.: 161128999–6999–01] Request for Information on Identification of New Capabilities Needed by the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice; request for information. AGENCY: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) plans to publish a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) in fiscal year 2017 (FY17), subject to the availability of appropriated funding, to competitively fund grants and/or cooperative agreements (hereinafter referred to as awards) to existing Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Centers to add capabilities to the MEP program, including the development and conduct of projects to solve new or emerging manufacturing problems. This notice is not the NOFO; 15 U.S.C. 287k(f), the statute under which NIST expects to conduct the future award program, requires the NIST Director to consult with small and midsized manufacturers regarding their needs and, in turn, for NIST to use the information provided to develop one or more themes for future NOFOs, which will be disseminated through www.grants.gov. Through this notice, NIST requests information from smalland medium-sized U.S. manufacturers SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\14DEN1.SGM 14DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 240 / Wednesday, December 14, 2016 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES related to the needs of such manufacturers in four areas: (1) Critical manufacturing technologies; (2) supply chain requirements; (3) potential business services, including information services; and (4) other technologies or services that would enhance global competition. In addition, NIST requests responses related to other critical issues that NIST should consider in its strategic planning for potential future NOFOs to be conducted pursuant to the authority contained in 15 U.S.C. 278k(f). DATES: NIST will accept responses to this request for information until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on January 13, 2017. ADDRESSES: Responses will be accepted by email only. Responses must be sent to meprfi@nist.gov with the subject line ‘‘MEP Competitive Awards Program RFI Responses.’’ FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Diane Henderson, 100 Bureau Drive, Mail Stop 4800, Gaithersburg, MD 20899–4800, 301–975–5020, meprfi@ nist.gov; or David Cranmer, 100 Bureau Drive, Mail Stop 4800, Gaithersburg, MD 20899–4800, 301–975–5020, meprfi@nist.gov. Please direct media inquiries to NIST’s Office of Public Affairs at 301–975–NIST (6478). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to 15 U.S.C. 287k(f), NIST will consider the information obtained in response to this request for information in the development of one or more NOFOs to competitively fund awards to existing MEP Centers to add capabilities to the MEP program, including the development and conduct of projects to solve new or emerging manufacturing problems. The MEP National Network MEP is a nationwide network of Centers located in all 50 States and Puerto Rico that serve as trusted business advisors focused on transforming U.S. manufacturers to compete globally, supporting supply chain integration, and providing access to technology for improved productivity. MEP Centers are a diverse network of State, non-profit universitybased, and other non-profit organizations, comprising more than 1,200 technical experts offering products, technical expertise and services that address the critical needs of their local manufacturers. Each MEP Center works directly with area manufacturers to provide expertise and services tailored to their most critical needs, ranging from process improvement and workforce development to business practices and technology transfer. Additionally, MEP Centers connect manufacturers with VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 13, 2016 Jkt 241001 government and trade associations, universities and research laboratories, and a host of other public and private resources to help manufacturers realize individual business goals. Small U.S. manufacturers are a critical segment of our economy, comprising over 99% of all manufacturing establishments and approximately 73% of manufacturing employment.1 Small U.S. manufacturers have proven to be flexible and adaptable in their approach to improved competitiveness and profitable growth through new markets, new customers, new products and new processes. Yet gaps remain in identifying, acquiring and implementing new manufacturing and other technologies, business models and supply chain practices that small U.S. manufacturers need to compete globally. Of particular interest is the gap between the research being performed by universities, federal labs, research consortia, as well as other entities, and the readiness of many small U.S. manufacturers to adopt both existing and emerging technologies into their products and processes to respond to the quality and performance requirements of original equipment manufacturers. Within this readiness gap, NIST includes workforce development, education and training needs related to those technologies and practices. Reports by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology 2 3 and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation 4 emphasize that small- and mid-sized manufacturers lack the financial resources and technical capabilities that large manufacturers possess to be able to monitor and gain access to the universe of emerging technologies and processes being constantly innovated around the globe. 1 ‘‘2014 County Business Patterns,’’ U.S. Census Bureau Data, release date 04/2016, http:// www.census.gov/data/datasets/2014/econ/cbp/ 2014-cbp.html. 2 ‘‘Report to the President on Accelerating Advanced U.S. Manufacturing,’’ President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Executive Office of the President, October 2014, https:// www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ ostp/PCAST/amp20_report_final.pdf. 3 ‘‘Report to the President on Capturing Domestic Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing,’’ President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Executive Office of the President, July 2012, http://www.whitehouse.gov/ sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast_amp_ steering_committee_report_final_july_27_2012.pdf. 4 ‘‘International Benchmarking of Countries’ Policies and Programs Supporting SME Manufacturers,’’ Stephen J. Ezell and Dr. Robert Atkinson, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, September 2011, http:// www.itif.org/files/2011-sme-manufacturing-techprogramss-new.pdf. PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 90327 As a result, technology adoption rates of smaller U.S. manufacturers lag behind those of larger manufacturers. Through the efforts of its existing network of MEP Centers to provide services to small U.S. manufacturers, NIST MEP has made strides to address many of the needs of small U.S. manufacturers. However, to effectively assist small U.S. manufacturing firms to compete in the global economy, these firms require meaningful expertise specific to a given technology, supply chain and/or sector. Bridging the gap between available technologies and commercial adoption by small U.S. manufacturers is essentially a two-part problem. First, there is the critical step of translating available technologies into competitive market advantage including but not limited to the identification of viable business opportunities related to those technologies. Second, the adoption of new technologies requires addressing the variety of challenges that serve as barriers to small U.S. manufacturers to incorporating technology solutions into their processes and product portfolio. These challenges include, but are not limited to, the same challenges that were identified when the MEP program was first created 5—disproportionate impact of regulation; lack of awareness of changing technology, production techniques and business management practices; isolation; lack of knowledge of where to seek advice; and scarcity of capital—albeit in different form than initially conceived. Since its creation in 1988, the MEP program has become a source of trusted advice about new technologies, production techniques and business management practices for a significant number of firms (about 8,000 to 10,000 per year). The MEP program touches another 20,000 to 22,000 firms each year in training and outreach events. However, NIST recognizes that past events do not predict of the future, and the MEP program must continue to add new skills and capabilities to its MEP Centers to continue to support small U.S. manufacturers in the United States. Further information on the MEP program is available at: https:// www.nist.gov/mep. Background Information 15 U.S.C. 287k(f), the statute under which NIST expects to conduct the future award program, requires the NIST Director to consult with small and mid5 ‘‘Learning to Change—Opportunities to Improve the Performance of Smaller Manufacturers,’’ National Research Council, 1993, https:// www.nap.edu/read/2239/chapter/1. E:\FR\FM\14DEN1.SGM 14DEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 90328 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 240 / Wednesday, December 14, 2016 / Notices sized manufacturers regarding their needs and, in turn, for NIST to use the information provided to develop one or more themes for NOFOs to address the needs of small U.S. manufacturers and MEP Centers that support them. NIST is providing the statutory language below to better enable small and mid-sized manufacturers and other members of the public to provide relevant information in response to the request for information. 15 U.S.C. 278k(f)(3) states that the themes identified for the future award competition: (A) Shall be related to projects designed to increase the viability both of traditional manufacturing sectors and other sectors, such as construction, that increasingly rely on manufacturing through the use of manufactured components and manufacturing techniques, including supply chain integration and quality management; (B) shall be related to projects related to the transfer of technology based on the technological needs of manufacturers and available technologies from institutions of higher education, laboratories, and other technology producing entities; and (C) may extend beyond these traditional areas to include projects related to construction industry modernization. 15 U.S.C. 278k(f)(5)(A) also provides requirements for the selection of awardees under the future NOFO. Awards made under this program should: (i) Create jobs or train newly hired employees; (ii) promote technology transfer and commercialization of environmentally focused materials, products, and processes; (iii) increase energy efficiency; and (iv) improve the competitiveness of industries in the region in which the MEP Center or Centers are located. Additionally, under 15 U.S.C. 278k(f)(5)(B), awards may: (i) Encourage greater cooperation and foster partnerships in the region with similar Federal, State, and locally funded programs to encourage energy efficiency and building technology; and (ii) collect data and analyze the increasing connection between manufactured products and manufacturing techniques, the future of construction practices, and the emerging application of products from the green energy industries. No Confidential Proprietary, Business or Personally Identifiable Information No confidential proprietary information, business identifiable VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:45 Dec 13, 2016 Jkt 241001 information or personally identifiable information should be included in the written responses to this request for information. Reponses received by the deadline may be made publicly available without change at: www.nist.gov/mep. Request for Information The responses to the questions below are intended to assist NIST in developing one or more NOFOs for the funding of competitive awards to existing MEP Centers to add capabilities to the MEP program. In addition, the NIST Director is fulfilling the consultation requirement contained in 15 U.S.C. 278k(f)(3) via publication of this request for information. As required by the same statutory provision, the NIST Director will also consult with the MEP Advisory Board concerning topics for the future NOFO. Further information on the MEP Advisory Board is available at: https://www.nist.gov/ mep/who-we-are/advisory-board. NIST is seeking information that responds to one or more of the questions listed below. Responses should clearly indicate which question is being addressed. (1) What are the key problems and issues facing small U.S. manufacturers and their competitiveness and opportunities for growth in the nearterm (1 to 2 years), mid-term (3 to 5 years) and/or long-term (more than 5 years)? (2) What advanced manufacturing technologies are and/or will be needed by small U.S. manufacturers for the companies to be competitive and grow in the global marketplace in the nearterm (1 to 2 years), mid-term (3 to 5 years) and/or long-term (more than 5 years)? (a) What would be the appropriate Manufacturing Readiness Level 6 or Technology Readiness Level 7 for those technologies in order for small U.S. manufacturers to consider adoption? (b) What information will be required for small U.S. manufacturers to understand a technology or related group of technologies and the risks and opportunities associated with making or not making an investment in any given technology? (c) How is the information about advanced manufacturing technologies best delivered to small U.S. 6 ‘‘Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) Deskbook,’’ OSD Manufacturing Technology Program, version 2.0, May 2011; http:// www.dodmrl.com/MRL_Deskbook_V2.pdf. 7 Mankins, John C., ‘‘Technology Readiness Levels: A White Paper,’’ April 6, 1995, NASA; https://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/codeq/trl/trl.pdf. PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 manufacturers and/or MEP Centers that support those small U.S. manufacturers? (3) What technologies and/or business models are important to small U.S. manufacturers as they choose and participate in any particular supply chain? (4) What complementary business services, including information services, are and/or will be needed by small U.S. manufacturers and/or MEP Centers to take full advantage of advanced manufacturing technologies at the company or supply chain level? (5) Are there any other critical issues that NIST MEP should consider in its strategic planning for future investments that are not covered by the first four questions? Response to this request for information (RFI) is voluntary. Respondents need not reply to all questions; however, they should clearly indicate the number of each question to which they are responding. Brevity is appreciated. No confidential proprietary information, business identifiable information or personally identifiable information should be submitted in response to this RFI, as all responses received by the deadline may be made publicly available without change at: www.nist.gov/mep/. Please note that the U.S. Government will not pay for response preparation, or for the use of any information contained in the response. Responses should be typed using 12-point font and be singlespaced. Responses containing references, studies, research, and other empirical data that are not widely published may include copies of the referenced materials as attachments to the responses. Phillip A. Singerman, Associate Director of Innovation and Industry Services. [FR Doc. 2016–30009 Filed 12–13–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–13–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XF072 Gulf of Mexico Coast Conservation Corps (GulfCorps) Program National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of funding availability. AGENCY: The principal objective of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\14DEN1.SGM 14DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 240 (Wednesday, December 14, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 90326-90328]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-30009]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Institute of Standards and Technology

[Docket No.: 161128999-6999-01]


Request for Information on Identification of New Capabilities 
Needed by the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program

AGENCY: National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of 
Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; request for information.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 
plans to publish a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) in fiscal year 
2017 (FY17), subject to the availability of appropriated funding, to 
competitively fund grants and/or cooperative agreements (hereinafter 
referred to as awards) to existing Hollings Manufacturing Extension 
Partnership (MEP) Centers to add capabilities to the MEP program, 
including the development and conduct of projects to solve new or 
emerging manufacturing problems. This notice is not the NOFO; 15 U.S.C. 
287k(f), the statute under which NIST expects to conduct the future 
award program, requires the NIST Director to consult with small and 
mid-sized manufacturers regarding their needs and, in turn, for NIST to 
use the information provided to develop one or more themes for future 
NOFOs, which will be disseminated through www.grants.gov. Through this 
notice, NIST requests information from small- and medium-sized U.S. 
manufacturers

[[Page 90327]]

related to the needs of such manufacturers in four areas: (1) Critical 
manufacturing technologies; (2) supply chain requirements; (3) 
potential business services, including information services; and (4) 
other technologies or services that would enhance global competition. 
In addition, NIST requests responses related to other critical issues 
that NIST should consider in its strategic planning for potential 
future NOFOs to be conducted pursuant to the authority contained in 15 
U.S.C. 278k(f).

DATES: NIST will accept responses to this request for information until 
11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on January 13, 2017.

ADDRESSES: Responses will be accepted by email only. Responses must be 
sent to meprfi@nist.gov with the subject line ``MEP Competitive Awards 
Program RFI Responses.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Diane Henderson, 100 Bureau Drive, 
Mail Stop 4800, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-4800, 301-975-5020, 
meprfi@nist.gov; or David Cranmer, 100 Bureau Drive, Mail Stop 4800, 
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-4800, 301-975-5020, meprfi@nist.gov. Please 
direct media inquiries to NIST's Office of Public Affairs at 301-975-
NIST (6478).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to 15 U.S.C. 287k(f), NIST will 
consider the information obtained in response to this request for 
information in the development of one or more NOFOs to competitively 
fund awards to existing MEP Centers to add capabilities to the MEP 
program, including the development and conduct of projects to solve new 
or emerging manufacturing problems.

The MEP National Network

    MEP is a nationwide network of Centers located in all 50 States and 
Puerto Rico that serve as trusted business advisors focused on 
transforming U.S. manufacturers to compete globally, supporting supply 
chain integration, and providing access to technology for improved 
productivity. MEP Centers are a diverse network of State, non-profit 
university-based, and other non-profit organizations, comprising more 
than 1,200 technical experts offering products, technical expertise and 
services that address the critical needs of their local manufacturers.
    Each MEP Center works directly with area manufacturers to provide 
expertise and services tailored to their most critical needs, ranging 
from process improvement and workforce development to business 
practices and technology transfer. Additionally, MEP Centers connect 
manufacturers with government and trade associations, universities and 
research laboratories, and a host of other public and private resources 
to help manufacturers realize individual business goals.
    Small U.S. manufacturers are a critical segment of our economy, 
comprising over 99% of all manufacturing establishments and 
approximately 73% of manufacturing employment.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ ``2014 County Business Patterns,'' U.S. Census Bureau Data, 
release date 04/2016, http://www.census.gov/data/datasets/2014/econ/cbp/2014-cbp.html.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Small U.S. manufacturers have proven to be flexible and adaptable 
in their approach to improved competitiveness and profitable growth 
through new markets, new customers, new products and new processes. Yet 
gaps remain in identifying, acquiring and implementing new 
manufacturing and other technologies, business models and supply chain 
practices that small U.S. manufacturers need to compete globally. Of 
particular interest is the gap between the research being performed by 
universities, federal labs, research consortia, as well as other 
entities, and the readiness of many small U.S. manufacturers to adopt 
both existing and emerging technologies into their products and 
processes to respond to the quality and performance requirements of 
original equipment manufacturers. Within this readiness gap, NIST 
includes workforce development, education and training needs related to 
those technologies and practices. Reports by the President's Council of 
Advisors on Science and Technology 2 3 and the Information 
Technology and Innovation Foundation \4\ emphasize that small- and mid-
sized manufacturers lack the financial resources and technical 
capabilities that large manufacturers possess to be able to monitor and 
gain access to the universe of emerging technologies and processes 
being constantly innovated around the globe. As a result, technology 
adoption rates of smaller U.S. manufacturers lag behind those of larger 
manufacturers.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ ``Report to the President on Accelerating Advanced U.S. 
Manufacturing,'' President's Council of Advisors on Science and 
Technology, Executive Office of the President, October 2014, https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/PCAST/amp20_report_final.pdf.
    \3\ ``Report to the President on Capturing Domestic Competitive 
Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing,'' President's Council of 
Advisors on Science and Technology, Executive Office of the 
President, July 2012, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast_amp_steering_committee_report_final_july_27_2012.pdf.
    \4\ ``International Benchmarking of Countries' Policies and 
Programs Supporting SME Manufacturers,'' Stephen J. Ezell and Dr. 
Robert Atkinson, The Information Technology and Innovation 
Foundation, September 2011, http://www.itif.org/files/2011-sme-manufacturing-tech-programss-new.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Through the efforts of its existing network of MEP Centers to 
provide services to small U.S. manufacturers, NIST MEP has made strides 
to address many of the needs of small U.S. manufacturers. However, to 
effectively assist small U.S. manufacturing firms to compete in the 
global economy, these firms require meaningful expertise specific to a 
given technology, supply chain and/or sector.
    Bridging the gap between available technologies and commercial 
adoption by small U.S. manufacturers is essentially a two-part problem. 
First, there is the critical step of translating available technologies 
into competitive market advantage including but not limited to the 
identification of viable business opportunities related to those 
technologies. Second, the adoption of new technologies requires 
addressing the variety of challenges that serve as barriers to small 
U.S. manufacturers to incorporating technology solutions into their 
processes and product portfolio. These challenges include, but are not 
limited to, the same challenges that were identified when the MEP 
program was first created \5\--disproportionate impact of regulation; 
lack of awareness of changing technology, production techniques and 
business management practices; isolation; lack of knowledge of where to 
seek advice; and scarcity of capital--albeit in different form than 
initially conceived. Since its creation in 1988, the MEP program has 
become a source of trusted advice about new technologies, production 
techniques and business management practices for a significant number 
of firms (about 8,000 to 10,000 per year). The MEP program touches 
another 20,000 to 22,000 firms each year in training and outreach 
events. However, NIST recognizes that past events do not predict of the 
future, and the MEP program must continue to add new skills and 
capabilities to its MEP Centers to continue to support small U.S. 
manufacturers in the United States. Further information on the MEP 
program is available at: https://www.nist.gov/mep.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ ``Learning to Change--Opportunities to Improve the 
Performance of Smaller Manufacturers,'' National Research Council, 
1993, https://www.nap.edu/read/2239/chapter/1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Background Information

    15 U.S.C. 287k(f), the statute under which NIST expects to conduct 
the future award program, requires the NIST Director to consult with 
small and mid-

[[Page 90328]]

sized manufacturers regarding their needs and, in turn, for NIST to use 
the information provided to develop one or more themes for NOFOs to 
address the needs of small U.S. manufacturers and MEP Centers that 
support them. NIST is providing the statutory language below to better 
enable small and mid-sized manufacturers and other members of the 
public to provide relevant information in response to the request for 
information.
    15 U.S.C. 278k(f)(3) states that the themes identified for the 
future award competition:
    (A) Shall be related to projects designed to increase the viability 
both of traditional manufacturing sectors and other sectors, such as 
construction, that increasingly rely on manufacturing through the use 
of manufactured components and manufacturing techniques, including 
supply chain integration and quality management;
    (B) shall be related to projects related to the transfer of 
technology based on the technological needs of manufacturers and 
available technologies from institutions of higher education, 
laboratories, and other technology producing entities; and
    (C) may extend beyond these traditional areas to include projects 
related to construction industry modernization.
    15 U.S.C. 278k(f)(5)(A) also provides requirements for the 
selection of awardees under the future NOFO. Awards made under this 
program should:
    (i) Create jobs or train newly hired employees;
    (ii) promote technology transfer and commercialization of 
environmentally focused materials, products, and processes;
    (iii) increase energy efficiency; and
    (iv) improve the competitiveness of industries in the region in 
which the MEP Center or Centers are located.
    Additionally, under 15 U.S.C. 278k(f)(5)(B), awards may:
    (i) Encourage greater cooperation and foster partnerships in the 
region with similar Federal, State, and locally funded programs to 
encourage energy efficiency and building technology; and
    (ii) collect data and analyze the increasing connection between 
manufactured products and manufacturing techniques, the future of 
construction practices, and the emerging application of products from 
the green energy industries.

No Confidential Proprietary, Business or Personally Identifiable 
Information

    No confidential proprietary information, business identifiable 
information or personally identifiable information should be included 
in the written responses to this request for information. Reponses 
received by the deadline may be made publicly available without change 
at: www.nist.gov/mep.

Request for Information

    The responses to the questions below are intended to assist NIST in 
developing one or more NOFOs for the funding of competitive awards to 
existing MEP Centers to add capabilities to the MEP program. In 
addition, the NIST Director is fulfilling the consultation requirement 
contained in 15 U.S.C. 278k(f)(3) via publication of this request for 
information. As required by the same statutory provision, the NIST 
Director will also consult with the MEP Advisory Board concerning 
topics for the future NOFO. Further information on the MEP Advisory 
Board is available at: https://www.nist.gov/mep/who-we-are/advisory-board.
    NIST is seeking information that responds to one or more of the 
questions listed below. Responses should clearly indicate which 
question is being addressed.
    (1) What are the key problems and issues facing small U.S. 
manufacturers and their competitiveness and opportunities for growth in 
the near-term (1 to 2 years), mid-term (3 to 5 years) and/or long-term 
(more than 5 years)?
    (2) What advanced manufacturing technologies are and/or will be 
needed by small U.S. manufacturers for the companies to be competitive 
and grow in the global marketplace in the near-term (1 to 2 years), 
mid-term (3 to 5 years) and/or long-term (more than 5 years)?
    (a) What would be the appropriate Manufacturing Readiness Level \6\ 
or Technology Readiness Level \7\ for those technologies in order for 
small U.S. manufacturers to consider adoption?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ ``Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) Deskbook,'' OSD 
Manufacturing Technology Program, version 2.0, May 2011; http://www.dodmrl.com/MRL_Deskbook_V2.pdf.
    \7\ Mankins, John C., ``Technology Readiness Levels: A White 
Paper,'' April 6, 1995, NASA; https://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/codeq/trl/trl.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (b) What information will be required for small U.S. manufacturers 
to understand a technology or related group of technologies and the 
risks and opportunities associated with making or not making an 
investment in any given technology?
    (c) How is the information about advanced manufacturing 
technologies best delivered to small U.S. manufacturers and/or MEP 
Centers that support those small U.S. manufacturers?
    (3) What technologies and/or business models are important to small 
U.S. manufacturers as they choose and participate in any particular 
supply chain?
    (4) What complementary business services, including information 
services, are and/or will be needed by small U.S. manufacturers and/or 
MEP Centers to take full advantage of advanced manufacturing 
technologies at the company or supply chain level?
    (5) Are there any other critical issues that NIST MEP should 
consider in its strategic planning for future investments that are not 
covered by the first four questions?
    Response to this request for information (RFI) is voluntary. 
Respondents need not reply to all questions; however, they should 
clearly indicate the number of each question to which they are 
responding. Brevity is appreciated. No confidential proprietary 
information, business identifiable information or personally 
identifiable information should be submitted in response to this RFI, 
as all responses received by the deadline may be made publicly 
available without change at: www.nist.gov/mep/. Please note that the 
U.S. Government will not pay for response preparation, or for the use 
of any information contained in the response. Responses should be typed 
using 12-point font and be single-spaced. Responses containing 
references, studies, research, and other empirical data that are not 
widely published may include copies of the referenced materials as 
attachments to the responses.

Phillip A. Singerman,
Associate Director of Innovation and Industry Services.
[FR Doc. 2016-30009 Filed 12-13-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-13-P