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The Government Role in Civilian Technology: Building a New Alliance
Civilian Technology Agency (CTA) and a quasi-governmental Civilian Technology Corporation (CTC). Both the CTA and the CTC might, in theory, be established to provide financial assistance to firms for pre-commercial R&D.
The advantages and disadvantages of each of these options is outlined below. Although an agency within the federal government, such as the CTA, may have some merit, the panel has concluded that this approach has significant drawbacks. Establishment of a CTC is the preferred option. This chapter will also provide general principles under which any plan to formalize government-industry cooperation should proceed. The guidelines for organizing and rationalizing the process through which federal investment in R&D is undertaken can help ensure a more efficient and rational approach to federal investments in pre-commercial areas.
The congressional request for this report included the mandate to recommend methods to strengthen government-industry cooperation in civilian technology. In particular, the law directed the academies to examine ways in which R&D cooperation might be structured to enhance the technological performance of U.S. industry. The following guidelines present an important framework for Congress and the executive branch as they design future cooperative ventures between government and industry and modify existing programs.
There is a long history of federal involvement in cooperative R&D and civilian technology development, as noted in Chapter 2.7 In particular, over the past two decades, Congress and the President have attempted to stimulate commercially relevant R&D through the establishment of a variety of initiatives. Examples of this include the formation of inter-agency working groups on civilian technology development and cooperative R&D, a proposal to the create a Civilian Industrial Technology Program (under the Kennedy administration), and the New Technological Opportunities program (under the Nixon administration) designed to stimulate private sector R&D in areas where market forces were inadequate to foster investment. The Industrial Innovation Initiatives program, announced in 1979 by President Carter, was aimed at both support for university-industry cooperative R&D and support for generic, applied R&D through government-industry cooperative R&D projects. During the Reagan administration, SEMATECH, the NCMS, and other publicly funded joint ventures were established. Many of these programs were established in response to concern over the defense industrial base, although much of the work in these programs may also have beneficial impacts on civilian technology development. One factor that limited the potential for success in several of these agency-sponsored efforts (at least those proposed or established prior to the 1980s) in