Technology Transfer:

Administration of the Bayh-Dole Act by Research Universities

RCED-98-126: Published: May 7, 1998. Publicly Released: May 11, 1998.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the administration of the Bayh-Dole Act in research universities.

GAO noted that: (1) federal agencies' administration of the Bayh-Dole Act as it applies to research universities is decentralized; (2) while the Department of Commerce has issued implementing regulations and provides coordination under limited circumstances, the act actually is administered by the agencies providing the funds; (3) the agencies' activities consist largely of ensuring that the universities meet the reporting requirements and deadlines set out in the act and regulations; (4) according to Commerce officials, no agency has yet taken back the title to any inventions because they were not being commercialized; (5) GAO visited 10 major research universities and found that they had established formal programs and procedures to implement the act; (6) the universities had special units to handle the reporting and licensing of inventions, had established procedures to ensure adherence to the act's reporting requirements, had set up computerized databases to monitor activities involving inventions, and were actively pursuing licensing for their inventions; (7) they also appeared to be pursuing licensing opportunities wherever possible and sharing royalties with the inventors; (8) officials within the agencies and universities GAO visited said the act was having a positive impact and was working as Congress intended; (9) they believed that the universities and researchers were receiving greater benefits from their inventions and were transferring technology better than they did when it retained title to inventions; (10) although there is no database or study showing the impact specifically attributable to the act, a fiscal year 1996 report from a survey conducted by the Association of University Technology Managers indicates that inventions from all funding sources, including federal agencies, are increasing in their importance to universities; and (11) in fiscal year 1996, the number of inventions disclosed by universities increased by 9.3 percent for the year, and licensing income--which totalled $365.2 million--increased by 22.1 percent.

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