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NIST Advanced Technology Program Requests Comments on Rule Changes

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is requesting comments on its proposed revisions to the regulations governing the agency's Advanced Technology Program.  The proposed rule changes, published in the Aug. 2 Federal Register, are intended to streamline the handling of research proposals under the ATP and bring the ATP regulations into accord with changes required under the American Technology Preeminence Act of 1992.

Several of the proposed changes are intended to make the process of reviewing proposed and active ATP projects less burdensome.  The new regulations, for example:

  • allow NIST more flexibility in the procedures used to evaluate requests for ATP funding, while retaining the thorough scientific and business reviews that are central to the program's operation;
  • allow NIST to request "abbreviated proposals" from applicants as a preliminary qualification step in ATP competitions.  Full proposals would be requested from those applicants whose abbreviated proposals best met program requirements.  This procedure would save unsuccessful applicants the costs of preparing a full proposal and make the evaluation procedure more efficient; and
  • include changes to auditing requirements permitting the use of audits by independent CPAs in lieu of the Commerce Department's Office of Inspector General.  This is intended to make compliance with ATP audit requirements less burdensome.

NIST also proposes changes to the "weight" assigned to selection criteria.  ATP projects are evaluated on scientific and technical merit, potential broad-based economic benefits, adequacy of plans for commercialization, experience and qualifications of the applicant(s), and the applicant's level of commitment and organizational structure.  Previously, all five criteria were given equal weight.  Under the new rule "scientific and technical merit" will receive greater stress; experience and "level of commitment" will receive less. 

Several of the proposed changes are required under the American Technology Preeminence Act of 1992.  These include:

  • a change governing the participation of foreign-owned companies in the ATP.  This requirement has been in effect under the provisions of ATP appropriation legislation since 1991; the current action incorporates it as part of the ATP regulations;
  • a new requirement that ATP projects be "industry led."  Under the rule, ATP projects must be sponsored by for-profit companies or by joint ventures in which for-profit companies control the membership, research and funding.  Non-profit research organizations may act as coordinators or facilitators for a joint venture.  In the original rule, non-profit research firms were eligible to sponsor ATP projects on their own; and
  • a change to the intellectual property provisions of the ATP regulations.  Under the new provisions, patents for inventions produced under an ATP project must be held by for-profit companies incorporated in the United States.  This narrows earlier provisions, which allowed patents to be held by non-profit organizations or educational institutions, as well as for-profit organizations.

Comments on the proposed changes must be received by Sept. 1, 1993.  Comments must be in writing and should be addressed to Advanced Technology Program Rule Comments, Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, A402 Administration Building, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-0001. 

The full text of the Federal Register notice is available electronically by anonymous ftp to  The file "atprfc.93" is in the techserv subdirectory.

NIST is the only federal technology agency with the primary mission of helping U.S. industry to strengthen its competitiveness.  Through research, services, grants and outreach programs, NIST assists industry in developing, adapting and commercializing technologies that lead to greater productivity, higher quality, and new and improved products and services.  NIST is an agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration.

Released August 4, 1993, Updated November 27, 2017