Washington--Limited oppotunities for proprietary research, an inability to copyright and license software and institutional red tape are major obstacles in transferring technology from federal laboratories to U.S. industry according to a new report from the General Accounting Office.
The report examined 10 laboratories operated by six government agencies, raging from the Air Force’s Lincoln Laboratory to the National Institutes of Health. Interviews with lab officials found that a majority support regulatory changes that would encourage businesses to invest in cooperative research within the labs and to make use of products produced by its scientists.
The report, carried out at the request of the Task Force on Technology Policy of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, suggested that computer software be treated similarly to other federal inventions and that companies allowed to treat the results of collaborative research as trade secrets for up to five years, It also suggested that .contractor-operated labs should be allowed to retain title to inventions by its scientists, and that research managers provide more information to the business community about opportunuilies for collaborative research.
A copy of the report, "Constraints Perceived by Federal Laboratory and Agency Officials to Technology Transfer” (RCED-88-116BR) can be obtained free from the GAO at P.O.. BOX 6015, Gaithersburg, MD 20877.