Technology Transfer

About Technology Transfer

Technology transfer is the process by which existing knowledge, facilities, or capabilities developed with federal funding are utilized to fulfill public and private needs. Technology transfer is an essential part in moving the nation's economy forward. This process ensures that federally developed technology is used to its full potential.

What is Technology Transfer?

Technology transfer is a responsibility of every employee and a key task for every center or program. Managers have legal responsibilities under the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980. Within the USGS Office of Administration, the Office of Policy and Analysis (OPA) is responsible for implementing the objectives of technology transfer.  The goal of federal technology transfer is to promote public/private sector partnerships that enhance U.S. competitiveness and leverage the Nation’s investment in federal research and development.

The main purpose of technology transfer is to aid the U.S. economy by making U.S. products more competitive in world markets. The concept of technology transfer from Federal laboratories is to get the ideas, inventions and technologies developed with tax dollars into the hands of the private sector as quickly as possible in a form useful to that community. The idea is to get the private sector involved in the development of Federal technology and technology products at an early stage so that the end result is a useful new U.S. product or service offered on world markets.

Technology Transfer Tools

Federal legislation authorizes a variety of agreements that allow federal agencies to work with other federal and non-federal entities, including for-profit organizations. Technology transfer provides protection of new knowledge and scientific/technical information, including intellectual property. Under agreements, the parties may share, exchange, transfer, obtain, and/or use, as appropriate under statute, information, expertise, facilities, and materials.


Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980:

The Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act was the first major law to promote technology transfer. It streamlined the procedure for federal labs so that they could transfer technology to the private sector. This resulted in more labs participating in the process. The legislation made it easier for the Federal Government to disseminate information.


Statute Summary

Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986:

Following the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act, this was the second piece of legislation related to technology transfer. This Act required federal scientists and engineers to take part in technology transfer. It also established technology transfer as an individual responsibility. 


Statute Summary

Executive Order 12591:

This Executive Order holds federal Labs accountable by ensuring they assist universities and the private sector through transferring technical knowledge. This order emphasized the government’s commitment to technology transfer and urged the use of agreements to the limits permitted by law.