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The Government Role in Civilian Technology: Building a New Alliance
cation of ongoing agency research efforts. An advisory panel, similar to that established for the U.S. Trade Representative to conduct trade and policy negotiations, would be put in place. Advisory committees, focused on both technology and industry issues, would have monitors from industry, labor, and federal agencies.
Operation, Instructions, and Performance
As previously noted, distance from the political process is important to successful execution of R&D programs. We recognize that it is impossible and inappropriate to remove politics completely from the nation's R&D and technology investment programs. In the panel's judgment, however, it is possible and appropriate to limit these influences in R&D programs. A primary advantage of the CTC is its distance from the constituent-oriented political process. It would clearly be more distant from the political process than either a new agency of the federal government or a new department in an existing agency. An independent, quasi-governmental entity would increase the chance that decisions to invest in commercially relevant technologies are based on technical and economic grounds. Notably, in contrast to either an expanded program for mission agency funding of R&D or the creation of a new Civilian Technology Agency, a CTC would avoid the political pressures and discontinuity inherent in the annual appropriation process.
Placed outside government, the CTC would also have the advantage of flexibility in choice of investment. The corporation would have the latitude to choose which investment vehicles to use to support industry efforts in pre-commercial technology development. The CTC modes of support might include financing university R&D consortia (not subject to cost-sharing provisions), industry, and national laboratories or other projects related to technology and R&D. If the cost-sharing provisions outlined above cannot be satisfied by small companies, equity positions or venture arrangements could be established by the CTC board to facilitate their participation. On a case-by-case basis, CTC also would be able to recover cost-plus profit earned by technologies developed with CTC financing. Finally, companies that do not participate in CTC-supported projects would be able to license any CTC-financed technologies for a fee, after project participants have had a chance to exercise a right to an exclusive license.
The CTC's business objective would be to encourage cooperative R&D ventures in pre-commercial areas. These projects should have high expected social rates of return in areas in which individual firms (or groups of firms) are unlikely to invest because of the low probability of economic returns. A primary goal of the CTC would be to improve selectivity in the choice of R&D projects with high social returns on investment and signifi-