In 2001, the Clinton administration raised nanoscale science and technology to the level of a federal initiative, officially referring to it as the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The importance of a coordinated federal program for nanotechnology R&D was given greater recognition in 2003 with the enactment of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (Public Law 108-153). Since 2006, the Forest Service has been an NNI participating agency and contributed significantly to the federal government nanotechnology research portfolio. The forest products industry is only one of the four industries in our Nation that has a formal consultative agreement in nanotechnology with the federal government.
Federal Government Policy Coordination in Emerging Technology
In 2010, to better coordinate emerging technology issues among federal agencies, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), jointly created the Emerging Technologies Interagency Policy Coordination Committee (ETIPC). ETIPC consists of assistant secretary-level representatives from about 20 federal agencies. Nanotechnology is one of ETIPC’s three working groups.
On March 11, 2011, to ensure an appropriate and balanced oversight of research and development, the White House ETIPC released a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies outlining broad principles to guide the development and implementation of policies for oversight of emerging technologies at the agency level. The memorandum laid out principals favoring risk-benefit-based oversight mechanisms that can ensure safety without stifling innovation, stigmatizing emerging technologies, or creating trade barriers.