Technology Transfer:

Implementation Status of the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986

RCED-89-154: Published: May 30, 1989. Publicly Released: May 30, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the implementation of the Technology Transfer Act of 1986, focusing on: (1) the progress that 12 federal agencies and 25 of their laboratories made in implementing the act; (2) agencies' delegations of authority to laboratories to enter into cooperative research and development agreements; (3) the incentives provided to government employees to promote technology transfer; and (4) the status of mandated reports.

GAO found that: (1) 10 of the 12 agencies had delegated authority to enter into cooperative agreements; (2) two agencies did not delegate such authority because one opted to continue its technology transfer activities under another act and the other's laboratories lacked legal capabilities to protect the government's interests; (3) 15 of the 25 laboratories had the authority to enter into cooperative agreements, while 10 laboratories either were not considered laboratories or their respective agencies had not delegated such authority to them; (4) the 12 agencies reported a total of 1,200 agreements in both 1987 and 1988; (5) the agencies reported different types of agreements, since the act provided agencies flexibility in defining cooperative agreements; (6) as of February 1989, the 12 agencies had reported entering into 172 agreements under the act; (7) the act required agencies to distribute at least 15 percent of royalties and other income, up to $100,000 annually per person, for property rights; (8) nine agencies collected about $4.6 million from royalties and licensing fees from October 1986 through September 1988; (9) some agencies had cash award programs to reward their employees for promoting technology transfer; and (10) as of May 1989, the Department of Commerce had the final draft of its required report under review, while all other agencies had submitted their reports to Congress.

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