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Expanding the Uses of Naval Ocean Science and Technology
No quantitative results from this pilot program were presented to the committee; therefore, its effectiveness was impossible to judge.
Lack of matching grants—ONR does not appear to be involved in any state or local matching grant programs to promote industrial diversification.
Presence of ONR barriers—The majority of small and large companies and venture capitalists without roots in defense contracting do not pursue technology transfer with ONR for a variety of reasons (e.g., perceived excess costs of the effort, transfer often hindered by ONR, ONR insensitivity to the crucial importance of timeliness in the international competitive marketplace, exclusion from the process by administrative edict). Of 18 small innovative companies known by the committee to be engaged in offshore technology, none participate with ONR in joint projects or technology transfer (John Johnson, Perry Tritech, personal communication, 1995). One of the largest companies engaged in offshore oil, gas, and pipeline operations (Chevron USA), has no history of technology transfer with ONR (David Clementz, Chevron Petroleum Technology Company, personal communication, 1995).
ONR has a decidedly mixed record in transferring technology to the potential nonmilitary commercial user. Conversely, transfer to the academic community seems to be well developed, making use of the traditional ad hoc procedure of shared interests between scientists in the respective organizations. The transfer is generally on a one-to-one basis and is fostered by each community. The transfer normally begins and is nurtured by presentations at professional society meetings and forums.
Transfer to the commercial sector, however, appears to be marginal at best. The Oceanographer of the Navy has signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to allow civilian access to the Naval Oceanographic Data Distribution System; however, this understanding is a recent initiative and the commercial community appears to be essentially unaware that access is possible.
Few cooperative agreements exist with the commercial sector. The only ONR CRDA that could be found in the area of computer modeling was completed in February 1995 with KTAADN, Inc. The purpose of this CRDA was to perform systematic testing and application of high-resolution meteorological modeling while assisting the U.S. effort to defend the America’s Cup. Despite being a high-profile activity and possessing positive public relations value, this cooperative effort is not likely to generate new growth in the economy. Recent attempts to develop such cooperative relationships have met with mixed success. It is clear from this experience that ONR and NRL do not have effective procedures for initiating, implementing, and monitoring such agreements. Examples of successful technology transfer involving ONR appear to be limited to ventures based on person-to-person contacts in which both individuals share a sense of gain. Formal efforts to declassify existing Navy databases for the collaborative