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The Government Role in Civilian Technology: Building a New Alliance
resources from these facilities could provide sources of funding for new institutional approaches to technology transfer within and beyond the laboratory structure. (For institutional approaches outside the laboratory structure, see Chapter 3.) GOGO laboratories with outdated missions, or those that do not continue to serve mission agency needs, would be candidates for closure. Reforms to encourage technology commercialization must not jeopardize capabilities vital to national security needs.
Effective technology transfer, as noted previously, depends on the interaction of people from the laboratories and other organizations. New collaborative procedures should be formulated, and successful ones encouraged, to locate laboratory personnel at collaborating firms or universities and to draw the personnel of external organizations into collaborative work at federal facilities.
An essential feature of successful technology transfer is the participation of nongovernmental users in collaborative projects. Some federal programs have not been structured with this important characteristic. A survey of federal laboratories with the potential for technology transfer and “significant” R&D budgets found that 31 percent still lacked official guidance for implementing the 1986 Technology Transfer Act. One hundred and fifty-six laboratory directors were found to lack the authority to participate in CRADAs.86 These data suggest that a larger role for industrial affiliates in strategic planning, project selection, and program operation of the laboratories is necessary.
Finally, industry should be provided with sufficient incentives to commercialize federal technology. It should be clear that the primary responsibility for building relationships between federal laboratories and industry rests with the laboratories. Streamlined procedures and simplified contracts for laboratory-industry interaction should be encouraged to reduce the amount of procedural barriers to cooperation. In addition, creative mechanisms for the protection of intellectual property resulting from cooperative ventures should be developed. Manufacturers have been reluctant to commercialize federal laboratory technology, in some instances, due to inadequate mechanisms to protect intellectual property rights.
COOPERATION IN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
A central question facing Congress concerns the strengths and limitations of cooperative R&D. This section briefly examines the potential benefits and areas of application of cooperative R&D, with a particular focus on examples of Japanese and European ventures. Tentative lessons from several of those experiments are discussed. Although it has not generated extensive results or lessons, recent U.S. experience with collaborative R&D is also outlined in this section.