A bipartisan effort to reform management of national labs is underway in the House of Representatives and Senate. The House has passed a bill that aims to streamline oversight of labs within the Department of Energy, ease technology transfer to the market, and pave the way for more public-private partnerships. Sponsored by Representative Randy Hultgren (R-IL), the legislation is cosponsored by the chairs and ranking members of the Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Energy Subcommittee, along with three other members.
The bill commissions the Secretary of Energy to submit a report recommending changes to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 “to improve the Department’s ability to successfully transfer new energy technologies to the private sector.” It also directs the Secretary and directors of the National Labs to implement a pilot program to improve cross-sector partnerships with the private sector and other non-federal entities. The program gives contractors at national labs “increased authority to negotiate contract terms, such as intellectual property rights, indemnification, payment structures, performance guarantees, and multiparty collaborations.”
In a statement, Rep. Hultgren said this bill will “improve the labs’ capacity to partner with private enterprise and convert their cutting edge research into marketplace innovation.”
Attention now turns to the Senate, where Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have introduced similar legislation.
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