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TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGY FROM THE
THURSDAY, MAY 3, 1990
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, DC The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:40 a.m., in room 2318, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Tim Valentine (chairman of the subcommittee), presiding.
Mr. VALENTINE. We'll get started. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome.
This morning, the subcommittee will continue exploring the extent to which our Federal agencies and laboratories are in compliance with the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986, Public Law 99-502, and the Executive Order, 12591, of April 10, 1987, which was based on that Act.
This legislation, and the accompanying Executive Order, have created new opportunities for the private sector to use the scientific and technical resources of our Federal laboratory system and have created new incentives for laboratory employees to help industry.
Technology transfer is important. The economic and social wellbeing of this country depends upon our ability to turn our scientific expertise into marketable products.
The Federal Government spends about $16 billion annually on research and development at Federal laboratories. It funds scientific research into areas as diverse as superconductivity, to prosthetics for the disabled, to cures for cancer.
This valuable resource must not lie dormant. We need to know that this valuable information is being utilized to the fullest extent possible.
This hearing continues the focus of a hearing the Subcommittee held last year on implementation of the 1986 Act.
A General Accounting Office representative testified at that time that accurate data was not available because of confusion in the reporting requirements mandated by the law. At the request of the Science Committee, the GAO developed questionnaires for laboratory personnel and for agency personnel to be used as criteria for future reporting requirements.
GAO used the questionnaires to survey the Federal laboratories and agencies to determine the status of implementation. A GAO
representative will present an interim report on their findings here to us this morning.
I would like to thank the General Accounting Office for their yeoman effort in developing and administering this data collection system. From their preliminary results, it is evident that implementation of the Act is varied across agencies and laboratories. There are particular areas that need improvement. However, as several of our other witnesses will indicate, if an agency or laboratory truly takes successful implementation of the Act seriously, it can be done.
We need now to continue to encourage other agencies and laboratories to properly and promptly implement both the letter of the law and its intent. In addition to GAO, testimony will be heard from representatives of the Federal Laboratory Consortium, individual laboratories, and officials from the Federal laboratories. We plan to ask these witnesses what, if any, are the perceived roadblocks to technology transfer in their particular organizations and what recommendations they might have to make to this subcommittee to rectify the situation.
We feel that the Congress must continue its effort to identify critical barriers to implementation of the Act and that the Federal agencies and laboratories must also rededicate themselves to the task.
Working together, I feel confident that we can improve our technology transfer process and provide the necessary incentives to improve technology transfer.
I recognize Congresswoman Schneider.
Today's hearing reviews the use of an important piece of legislation, the Federal Technology Transfer Act. This law is a vital part of our effort to improve the United States' competitiveness in an ever-growing global economy, to assure that research advances and innovations produced in Federal labs are commercialized as quickly as possible.
Regrettably, this seems to be where we are losing the race. So, the Science Committee should be proud of its forefront and hard work in support of the enactment of this law. But, today's hearing is very timely because of the questions that have been raised about the speed with which the Federal Government has implemented this Act.
Other questions have been raised about the application of the Act in certain specific cases, and I'd like to note one of these in particular. The EPA has a program through which, right now, they provide samples of pollutants at different concentrations to be used by companies to calibrate pollution-detection equipment. However, because of the expense of this program, the EPA would like to privatize this activity by contracting with private firms under a provision of the Federal Technology Transfer Act.
Although I support the effort of the EPA to turn this activity over to the private sector, a number of firms have contacted me with concerns about EPA's intention to contract with a small number of companies and have questioned the use of the FTTA in
One of these firms happens to be a constituent of mine from Rhode Island, and I would like to request that his letter be entered into the record because it so very clearly delineates the concerns of this particular interest.
[The letter follows:
CHEM SERVICE, INC.
660 TOWER LA • PO BOX 3108 • WEST CHESTER, PA 19381-3108 (215) 692-3026 • FAX (215) 692,8729
May 1, 1990
Honorable Claudine Schneider
8-21-89 and 8-24-89. (PSA #910 Date: 8-21-89
Synopsis #0004), Repository Service under FTTA. Subject: Proposed EPA CRADA Program.
Dear Congresswoman Schneider:
For several years the EPA has operated repositories and provided at not cost environmental and pesticide standards and solutions for the EPA, their subcontractors and certain commercial laboratories. The EPA concept was that there was a basic need for an EPA assured source with known purity of the product.
These BPA samples have been given away free with the EPA taking only in the order of 10% of these samples. The remaining have been distributed privately in competition with existing commercial products.
Over the years, the commercial suppliers have objected to the distribution of these samples but their business has not been threatened until the advent of the recent EPA CRADA proposals.
Please note that in EPA'S reply to every appeal that we have made to a government entity, has reiterated the thene:
"The ORO objective is to assure the timely supply of quality analytical standards to the environmental analytical community at a resonable cost while reducing the pressure on the limited Federal appropriation for environmental research".
While these platitudinal contentions are noble in thought, they in no way describe the perceived BPA actual objectives.
Ve feel that the BPA'S CRADA progran is a conceived method devised solely to support internal repository facility lost appropriations by using a "loop hole" in the FTTA laws.