Foreign Technology:

Federal Processes for Collection and Dissemination

NSIAD-92-101: Published: Mar 23, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on U.S. collection and dissemination of foreign technology information, focusing on: (1) the use of five federal processes in the development of federal critical technologies lists; (2) the use of other sources of information for developing the lists; (3) how the U.S. government can improve federal processes for collecting such information; (4) the disparity in the number of researchers and students exchanged between the United States and Japan; and (5) private-sector collection and dissemination of foreign technology information.

GAO found that: (1) the National Critical Technologies Panel, the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Commerce each develop lists of critical defense-related and commercial technologies of significant importance to the U.S. national interest; (2) two of the five federal processes were not in operation during list development, and officials involved in developing the lists did not use the other three processes in developing the lists, since they did not consider them very useful or accessible; (3) the officials instead used briefings from DOD, Commerce, and other federal sources, internal agency experts, private-sector associations, and informal discussions to obtain information for the lists; (4) federal officials noted that copyright requirements and clearances, limited resources for translating materials, and the classified or proprietary nature of information restricted information dissemination efforts; and (5) officials suggested that list development processes could improve with market research on customer needs, increased visits by U.S. researchers to other countries, and a directory of experts on critical technologies. GAO also found that: (1) twice as many Japanese researchers work and study in the United States for 1 month or longer as U.S. researchers in Japan, and there are more than 16 times as many Japanese students in U.S. universities than U.S. students in Japanese universities; and (2) private-sector efforts are more successful in collecting and disseminating foreign technology information mainly because they are focused towards their clients' needs.