Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

ROI Initiative Status Update: Legislative Package Sent to Congress

In April 2019, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced the release of a Final Green Paper from its Return on Investment (ROI) Initiative for Unleashing American Innovation. This national goal aims to dramatically increase returns from the more than $150 billion per year of U.S. federal investment in research and development.

The NIST ROI Green Paper provided a summary of private and public stakeholder inputs received from hundreds of experts and organizations representing thousands of companies, universities, federal laboratories and other institutions. The document identified 15 findings by NIST to help inform decision-making and implementing actions by the relevant departments and agencies that could further enhance the U.S. innovation engine at the public-private interface.

Eight of the 15 findings noted that implementation would require revisions to the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, 15 U.S.C. 3710 et seq. NIST is pleased to share that the ROI Legislative Package for modernizing the Stevenson-Wydler Act has now been released to Congress for consideration. This legislative package has gone through extensive interagency review and has been cleared by the Office of Management and Budget for congressional action. 

The ROI Legislative Package contains ten proposals that respond directly to findings outlined in the NIST ROI Green Paper:




Copyright in Federal Laboratory Computer Programs

Finding 4

Creates a limited exception to the prohibition for copyright by federal laboratories for certain software products

Extend CRADA Information Protection Period

Finding 5

Extends the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement information protection period from a maximum of 5 years to a maximum of 12 years

Stevenson-Wydler Act Regulatory Authority

Finding 6

Codifies executive order requirements for an Interagency Working Group for Technology Transfer; permits the Director of NIST to issue regulations with the concurrence of the IAWGTT, in order to provide agencies with consistent legal interpretations of technology transfer statutes

Distribution of Royalties Received by Federal Agencies

Finding 8

Increases the annual cap on the amount a federal employee may receive from patent royalties from $150,000 to $500,000; establishes an annual cap on the amount a federal employee may receive from royalties on licensed software of $150,000

Presumption of Government Rights to Employee Intellectual Property

Finding 7

Codifies executive order requirements for federal employees to report their inventions and contributions to software works to their laboratories; streamlines the determination of rights to inventions made by federal employees

Clarifying CRADA Authority

Finding 8

Removes conflicting definitions as to who may be parties to a CRADA

Expansion of Agreements for Commercializing Technology (ACT) Authority

Finding 9

Provides all agencies with Government-Owned Contractor-Operated GOCO) laboratories with the authority to direct their GOCO laboratories to enter into Agreements for Commercializing Technology

Other Transactions

Finding 9

Provides Other Transactions authorities to all agencies for the purposes of improving utilization of federally funded technologies

Non-Profit Foundations

Finding 9

Permits all agencies to establish non-profit foundations in support of their missions, including their mission for technology transfer as specified in the Stevenson-Wydler Act

Reporting and Metrics

Findings 14 and 15

Updates metrics that all agencies are required to report on their Title 15 activities and replaces a physical printed annual report with electronic availability of metrics on a more up-to-date basis

Released December 10, 2020