A report accompanying a US Senate bill proposing funding levels for science, commerce, and justice agencies includes encouraging language backed by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, recognizing the importance of optics and photonics to the US economy and the need for well-written regulations on export of optics and photonics technologies and components.
The Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill for the fiscal year 2018 (FY2018) passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday 27 July.
A section of the report accompanying the bill acknowledges the global photonics market for core photonics components at $182 billion in annual sales, an estimate based on an SPIE market analysis.
"Photonic components such as optics, sensors, fibers, lasers, photodetectors, and light modulators constitute [a] $182,000,000,000 global industry, supporting 190,000 jobs in the United States alone," the report stated. Language in the bill also notes the rapid growth of technologies controlled under Category XII of the US Munitions List (USML) and Category 6 of the Commerce Control List (CCL). It said "well-written and precise regulations" were necessary to support business, research, and workforce development for US manufacturers and exporters.
SPIE has been closely involved in the US government's export control reform initiative since its launch in 2009 and continues to be involved in ongoing reform efforts through SPIE Government Affairs Director Jennifer Douris' leadership on the Sensors and Instrumentation Technical Advisory Committee (SITAC) at the Department of Commerce. Last week's committee report highlights the importance of regulations that are not overly restrictive and the necessity to look at foreign availability and commercial use of the controlled technology as key factors in ensuring US companies can compete in the global market place.
"We are very grateful to the Senate Appropriations Committee for making this statement of position," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. "This is extraordinary progress to see language now in an appropriations bill acknowledging the importance of the industry, when only a few years ago photonics was met by blank stares in Congress.
"Export controls are a very delicate balance between the interests of US-based technology industries and national security," he added. "We at SPIE know this language will resonate with both large and small companies throughout the US and beyond."
Although final decisions on US government funding levels for FY2018 won't be decided until later this year, the Senate Appropriations Committee set funding levels for NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in this bill. The levels are 1% to 2% less than this year's budgets, which were in the limits of their current allocations.
Reports by SPIE on the photonics marketplace, workforce, export controls, as well as other resources for the photonics industry can be found at: spie.org/industry-resources.