Recommendation: ONR should continue to fund and nurture long-range marine research and technology development. These efforts should be coupled with the education and training of scientific and engineering personnel in ocean science and technology.
Finding: Federal agencies are mandated by public law to transfer technology (see Appendix C). The transfer of ocean science and technology within the Navy and to other government agencies, and to a large extent, to academia, appears to be adequate. Technology transfer to the nonmilitary commercial sector, by contrast, is clearly inadequate. This inadequacy is particularly evident in the transfer of technology to major U.S. corporations that lack a history of involvement with ONR and to small companies (less than 100 employees and less than $30 million in revenues) of all types.
Representatives of marine industries indicated to the committee that there is little direct involvement by ONR in commercial offshore R#038;D activity. An examination of the few measures of performance available (e.g., participation by ONR in cooperative R#038;D agreements, number of patents licensed) seems to support this view (see Chapter 3).
Recommendation: ONR should allocate sufficient resources to ensure the success of technology transfer to the domestic nonmilitary sector in ocean science and technology.
Finding: Even though an organizational structure apparently exists to facilitate domestic technology transfer by ONR, the existing process is primarily ad hoc and reactive rather than proactive.
Industries that do not have a connection to ONR find it difficult and costly to gain access to information available at ONR. The perception is that there is valuable technology at ONR but that existing mechanisms are not adequate to promote the development of this technology for commercial purposes (see Chapter 3). For these and other reasons, simply introducing financial or personnel management policies may fail to stimulate the technology interchange desired. There is a need for a new organizational mechanism that acknowledges the private sector as the best judge of what technology it needs, at what cost, and on what timetable (see Chapter 5). ONR does not possess the experience and perspective required to make such determinations without significant input from the user community.