expenditures that the laboratories represent. Table 2–1 shows R&D funding for these facilities, including both intramural agency laboratories and federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs).

Federal policy on technology transfer from the laboratories should also take into the account the fact that these facilities are diverse in character, quality, and objectives. It is misleading to characterize this diverse set of facilities as a federal laboratory “system.” The laboratories include single-office facilities operated by a handful of people, as well as large organizations with thousands of researchers, such as the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. Most government laboratories, however, are relatively small, staffed by five to ten full-time equivalent research employees. Moreover, most of these facilities are self-contained and are located within a federal agency or university. Although a few laboratories engage in activity related to commercial technology development, the majority are mission-oriented organizations that focus on research far “upstream” from applied R&D of commercial relevance or on systems specialized for military purposes. The federal government also supports large scientific user facilities that, because of their size and expense, would be difficult for any single firm or university to construct. Some of these installations perform important services for industry and provide a foundation for the training of scientists and engineers.

The primary mission of the federal laboratories will continue to be the fulfillment of traditional, agency-specific R&D objectives outlined above.

TABLE 2–1 Selected Federal Laboratory Obligated Expenditures, by Department, for FY 1991 (billion dollars)

Department/Agency

Total

Intramural

FFRDCs

Defense

10.212

8.988

1.224

Energy

4.443

0.427

4.016

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

3.278

2.573

0.705

Health and Human Services

1.940

1.879

0.061

National Institutes of Health

1.463

1.402

0.061

Agriculture

0.777

0.776

0.005

Commerce

0.350

0.349

0.001

Interior

0.469

0.435

0.029

National Science Foundation

0.299

0.187

0.112

Total

23.231

17.016

6.214

 

SOURCE: Calculated from data in National Science Foundation, Federal Funds for R&D: Fiscal Years 1989, 1990, 1991, 1991, Table C-9.



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