response to this directive, ONR has structured and staffed a system incorporating Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRDAs), an Office of Research and Technology Applications (ORTAs), and specialized programs for patent license and shipyard and vessel improvement. Although it is unclear whether the funding mandate is being met, the level of activity and results demonstrate that technology transfer is not effective in the ocean science and technology areas.
Representatives of marine industries indicated to the committee that there is little direct involvement by ONR in commercial offshore research and development activity. An examination of the few measures of performance available (e.g., participation by ONR in cooperative research and development 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 that the private sector is 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.
Recommendation: ONR needs to take a more proactive role in domestic technology transfer in ocean science and technology. This can be accomplished using a combination of strategies, including organizational realignment, electronic databases, newsletters, sponsored forums and workshops, professional association meetings, personal communication among principal investigators, and funding incentives within ONR for programs that facilitate commercial product development. The existing programs intended to promote communication between ONR and the nonmilitary sector should be used to determine industry needs.