Washington DC – House Energy and Business Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA) and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY) sent a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) urging the agency Review DOE’s technology transfer activities to ensure they are working in the best interests of the American people — not helping an adversary like China.
Excerpts and highlights from the letter to GAO:
“Each year, the Department of Energy (DOE) oversees billions of federal dollars in R&D investments to advance the nation’s economic, energy, and national security interests. This work was conducted at DOE research and production facilities and its national laboratory system, which is at the forefront of technology development and maturation that can spur innovation and benefit U.S. competitiveness and security. To help ensure that taxpayer-funded technologies developed by the U.S. Department of Energy are commercialized for the benefit of the nation, the Office of Technology Transformation (OTT) develops and oversees the Department’s commercialization programs and partnerships with U.S. business and industry.
“While OTT’s mission is important, it is also important to review potential technology transfers to ensure taxpayer-funded technology is not transferred to foreign companies that ultimately move jobs overseas and use U.S. technological breakthroughs to compete with U.S. industry This was underscored by a recent DOE review of the licensing of breakthrough battery technology developed through taxpayer-funded research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Washington state, following news reports that the lab allowed the technology License transferred to Chinese company. The review found that the laboratory lacked internal controls and effective management of licensing. It also identifies the need to assess research security and technology transfer policies and oversight across the DOE enterprise to address commercial and security risks.
“To protect U.S. investment in leading technologies and U.S. manufacturing jobs, it is imperative that the Department of Energy’s technology transfer activities be made transparent in the interest of the American people rather than in support of America’s adversaries. We therefore write to ask the Administration to ask The Office conducts an extensive review of DOE’s technology transfer and intellectual property protection activities.
“Specifically, we asked GAO to evaluate DOE’s technology transfer program and its implementation across the DOE enterprise, with a particular focus on controls that protect taxpayer-funded technology from foreign transfer. This is especially important for emerging technologies.
“In addition, we ask GAO to evaluate the tools available to the government to monitor critical and emerging technologies funded by the DOE that have been transferred to U.S. companies to prevent their potential later acquisition or transfer to foreign companies or countries. A review of this nature should include a comprehensive exploration of how the DOE enforces the terms of its laboratory license.
“We appreciate your help in DOE’s regulatory oversight efforts, which are important in enhancing America’s competitiveness by helping to ensure that taxpayer-funded critical and emerging technologies are in the best interest of the people who fund their development.”
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