March 5, 2018

Followup on Cooperative Research and Development Agreements at National Laboratories

One of the Department of Energy’s top priorities is the transfer or dissemination of technology it develops.  Under the National Competitiveness Technology Transfer Act of 1989, the Department’s contractor-operated laboratories are authorized to use Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) to facilitate the development and transfer of technology to the general science community, private firms, and the public.  Department site offices are responsible for ensuring laboratories provide final reports documenting the results of research to the Department’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI).  OSTI is responsible for preserving the scientific and technical information and making it publicly available.  The Department’s laboratories had approximately 1,600 active CRADAs between fiscal years 2013 and 2015.

While the awarding, funding, and approval of CRADAs generally adhered to Departmental requirements, the Department and its laboratories had not taken sufficient corrective action to address previously identified weaknesses in the management of final technical reports.  Further, the Department had still not always disseminated final reports received by OSTI following the expiration of the statutory data protection period, which should not exceed 5 years, as reported in our prior reports.  By not ensuring that its laboratories obtained and disseminated final reports, the Department has not ensured that the scientific and technical information generated by CRADAs was available throughout the Department, the scientific community, and the public.  Management concurred with the report’s recommendations and indicated that corrective actions had been initiated or were planned to address the issues identified in the report.

Topic: Science and Innovation