technological performance of the U.S. economy. We have set out a series of recommendations to strengthen technology transfer from the federal laboratories and to increase the rate of technology adoption in U.S. industry (see Chapter 2). In this chapter, we propose guidelines to frame future R&D cooperation between government and industry, as well as possible structures to shape a new federal role in pre-commercial R&D support. These recommendations should not be viewed as a comprehensive plan to address U.S. industrial competitiveness. This report has specifically focused on the issues included in the panel's charge from Congress: U.S. performance in civil technology and the appropriate government role in this process.
The panel has considered options for a mechanism through which the federal government might extend its role in civilian technology. We believe that a very few of the existing mission agency's R&D programs should be extended to include pre-commercial research and technology commercialization. We have also concluded that this alone is inadequate to meet the objective of supporting technology commercialization over the long term. Funding under a plan of this nature would, most likely, not reach the levels necessary to affect commercial markets on an economy-wide basis. Moreover, a government program to encourage pre-commercial R&D and technology development requires distance from existing agency agendas and from continuing budget and political pressures. Financial support for pre-commercial R&D, channeled through mission agencies, has little chance of competing with long-standing basic research or technology needs of the direct objectives of mission agencies.
Even if available resources were guaranteed a reasonable chance of successfully competing with existing programs in the budgeting process, it is unlikely that a decentralized approach to support for R&D on problems that require choices of important technologies would result in identifiable, long-term benefits to U.S. performance. Finally, support for pre-commercial R&D to reach commercial objectives would clearly suffer in a program under the direction of agencies buffeted by political concern.
The panel has concluded that there is a legitimate role for the federal government in financing and organizing investments in pre-commercial R&D. We recommend creation of a Civilian Technology Corporation (CTC) as the most appropriate new mechanism for any further substantial federal investment in pre-commercial technology.
The details of how CTC would operate are best left to those individuals with responsibility for science, technology, and economic policy in government and industry. We do believe, however, that the CTC would offer a means to rationalize federal investments in nonmilitary technologies in a systematic fashion. The CTC would provide a mechanism for designing and implementing an organized approach to financing projects in sectors