To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making

Prince Otto von Bismarck

On April 22, 2010, Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee introduced HR 5116, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which was then referred to the House Committee on Science and Technology and the House Committee on Education and Labor.

The bill’s focus, as it’s title implies, is on reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act passed in 2007. Both the original act provided government support for innovation, research and development, increased funding for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM for short) in high schools and colleges, and assistance in getting the results of research and development out to the private sector, ultimately leading to the emergence of new industries and an expansion of the economy. The Reauthorization act would have expanded on this and would have included other areas, such as a reorganization of the National Institutes of Standards and Technology.

The House Committee on Science and Technology reported the bill out of committee with an amendment in the nature of a substitute; all of the language after the enacting clause was stripped out and new language substituted. Both the bill as introduced and the bill as reported to the House have the same language for Title I, "Science and Technology Policy", Subtitle A, "The National Nanotechnology Initiatives Amendments Act of 2010", which will be our focus here.

Section 102, "National Nanotechnology Program Amendments" would require, within 12 months of the bill’s enactment into …