Technology Transfer:

DOE Has Fewer Partnerships, and They Rely More on Private Funding

GAO-01-568: Published: Jul 6, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 6, 2001.

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James E. Wells, Jr
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Congress enacted the National Competitiveness Technology Transfer Act to encourage federal laboratories operated by contractors to enter into cooperative research and development agreements (CRADA) with businesses, universities, and other private partners. This act was designed to improve the United States' competitive position in the world economy by facilitating the transfer of technology from federal laboratories to U.S. businesses. This report reviews the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) (1) use of CRADAs and (2) views on the advantages and disadvantages of CRADAs. GAO found that NNSA has reduced its use of CRADAs while entering into more agreements fully funded by private partners. Dedicated funding for CRADAs was gradually phased out and program managers at the laboratories were supposed to rely on regular research funding to make up the shortfall. However, NNSA laboratory managers have stated that because the funding has not been replaced with research funds, their laboratories have either prematurely terminated many CRADAs or required the private partners to fully fund the work. According to NNSA officials, CRADAs offers both advantages and disadvantages. CRADAs have enabled laboratories to recruit and retain experienced staff and have improved U.S.' businesses position in the global economy. However, CRADAs also compete for limited funding and generally take longer to execute because of the complexity of the agreements.

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