March 15, 2013

Cooperative Research and Development Agreements at National Nuclear Security Administration Laboratories

In 1989, the National Competitiveness Technology Transfer Act established technology transfer as a Federal mission and authorized government-owned, contractor-operated laboratories to use Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) to facilitate the development and transfer of technology to the private sector.  The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) site offices located at each laboratory are responsible for ensuring that laboratories obtain final reports documenting the results of research and any new inventions or technology, and forward copies of the reports to the Department of Energy's Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), which is ultimately responsible for preserving the scientific and technical information and making this information readily available to the scientific community and the public.  We found that NNSA laboratories were managing the use of selected CRADA activities that we tested in an effective manner.  For example, we found that the three laboratories we visited generally met the requirements for CRADAs.  However, we found that controls could be improved in the area of obtaining and disseminating CRADA results.  Specifically, we found that NNSA laboratories had not always obtained final reports from researchers for completed and terminated projects, and forwarded the obtained reports to OSTI for dissemination.  Reporting issues occurred because the NNSA site offices had not consistently overseen CRADA activities at the three national laboratories we reviewed.  In particular, the site offices had not always ensured that the laboratories had implemented policies and procedures related to obtaining final reports and transmitting final reports to OSTI and that such policies and procedures were effective.  In response to the findings, management concurred with our recommendations and proposed corrective actions to improve obtaining and disseminating results.

Topic: Financial Assistance