White House sends NIST leader nomination to Senate

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The Biden administration Tuesday resent its nomination for a new head of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to the Senate.

Senate lawmakers will again consider the appointment of Laurie Locascio as undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology and director of NIST before voting on her confirmation.

Locascio’s nomination was first sent to the Senate in July last year and subsequently considered by lawmakers at the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The committee sent Locascio’s nomination to the Senate floor, but a vote wasn’t held before the end of last year’s session, requiring the administration to resubmit the nomination in the new session of Congress.

NIST plays a key role in the federal government IT management, particularly in setting cybersecurity standards. The agency has been tasked by the Biden administration’s recent cybersecurity executive order to “issue guidance that identifies practices that enhance software supply chain security, with references to standards, procedures, and criteria,” among other things.

Locascio is currently the vice president for research at the University of Maryland, where she oversees research, technology commercialization and strategic partnerships on the institution’s College Park and Baltimore campuses.

At NIST, Locascio previously served as the agency’s acting principal deputy director and associate director for laboratory programs after a decades-long research career that has included other leadership positions. She holds a Ph.D. in toxicology from the University of Maryland.

Research physicist Jim Olthoff is currently acting director of NIST.

Locascio’s nomination comes after lawmakers in late 2020 sent a blistering letter to then-Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross over the appointment of Jason Richwine to a newly created role of deputy undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology.

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Department of Commerce (DOC), NIST, White House
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