Diffusing Innovations:

Implementing the Technology Transfer Act of 1986

PEMD-91-23: Published: May 29, 1991. Publicly Released: May 30, 1991.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO surveyed the extent to which federal departments and laboratories implemented the provisions of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, focusing on the: (1) receipt of implementation guidance from headquarters; (2) establishment and staffing of the Offices of Research and Technology Applications (ORTA); (3) delegation of authority to laboratory directors to enter into cooperative research and development agreements (CRDA); (4) creation of royalty sharing programs; and (5) establishment of personnel exchange programs.

GAO found that: (1) almost all 297 laboratories, located in 10 federal departments, implemented some of the legislation; (2) none of the 10 departments had completely satisfied all the criteria; (3) 69 percent of the laboratories received departmental guidance; (4) 41 percent of the laboratories complied with requirements to staff ORTA; (5) 156 laboratory directors lacked authority to enter into CRDA; (6) 132 laboratories had royalty sharing programs; (7) 217 laboratories had personnel exchange programs; and (8) a majority of the laboratories reported that the technology transfer legislation had been more effective than not, despite barriers and constraints to implementation.