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Policy & Coordination


Pentagon illustration of TPO's Policy and Coordination

The federal government invests more than $200 billion a year in research and development. This R&D is conducted in a wide range of federal facilities, universities, and private sector companies. The intellectual property that results from this research and development has the potential to make an impact but requires translating the scientific discovery into a developed product. This translational work is usually performed by individuals and organizations outside of the government that must devote time and capital to develop the discovery into a successful commercial product. Despite the critical importance of federal R&D to economic development, agencies historically have lacked the resources and interagency platforms to act together in the commercialization of their technologies.

In response to these historic difficulties the President, Congress and Secretary of Commerce have delegated several unique responsibilities to NIST as an effort to assist technology commercialization activity across the federal government. These responsibilities include analyzing, planning, coordinating, reporting, and exercising general oversight of technology transfer responsibilities under the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 (15 U.S.C. § 3710) and Executive Order (E.O.) 12591 of April 10, 1987; serving as the Host Agency to the Federal Laboratory Consortium under the Stevenson-Wydler Act (15 U.S.C. § 3710); and promulgating regulations pertaining to the ownership of inventions made with federal funding, the licensing of inventions owned by the federal government, and the ownership of inventions made by federal employees under the Bayh-Dole Act (35 U.S.C. §§ 200-209).

The NIST Technology Partnerships Office fulfills these responsibilities through the following interagency initiatives, programs, and bodies:

  • Lab-to-Market (L2M) L2M establishes goals, measures performance, streamlines administrative processes and facilitates local and regional partnerships to help foster a healthier environment for R&D commercialization. This initiative encompasses the National Science and Technology Council’s Lab-to-Market Subcommittee, Cross Agency Priority Goals within the President’s Management Agenda, and various NIST efforts.
  • Interagency Working Group for Technology Transfer (IAWGTT) The IAWGTT identifies and disseminates creative approaches to technology transfer from Federal laboratories, advises and assists on federal technology transfer studies, and identifies and coordinates responses to technology transfer policy issues through an inter-agency task force. 
  • Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) The FLC is the nationwide network of federal laboratories that fosters commercialization, best practice strategies, and opportunities for accelerating federal technologies out of the labs and into the marketplace. The FLC is operated under a NIST Cooperative Agreement with oversight performed by an Executive Board of federal technology transfer personnel.
  • Bayh-Dole Regulations The Secretary of Commerce has delegated the authority to issue the Bayh-Dole Act’s implementing regulations to the NIST Director. TPO provides policy guidance to the NIST Director on Bayh-Dole issues, manages the iEdison database, and convenes the Interagency Working Group for Bayh-Dole.
    • iEdison Online, relational database for recipients of federal research funding to report subject inventions and patents to the federal funding agency that issued the funding award in accordance with the Bayh-Dole Act and implementing regulations.
    • Interagency Working Group for Bayh-Dole (IAWGBD) The IAWGBD reviews issues relating to extramural research activities within the field of tech transfer and works to create consensus and policy across agencies. 
  • Publications and Reports TPO is responsible for publishing the Department of Commerce Annual Report on Technology Transfer and the annual Federal Laboratory Technology Transfer report required under the Stevenson-Wydler Act. TPO also publishes original research on Federal technology transfer in a variety of formats (e.g., NIST technical series publications) and hosts NIST-funded studies on federal technology transfer, including economic impact and tracer studies
Created September 5, 2023, Updated September 12, 2023