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Legislation Aims to Modernize National Labs

July 17, 2014
By George I. Seffers
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U.S. representatives from both parties have introduced the Department of Energy (DOE) Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act of 2014, a companion bill to the Senate’s America INNOVATES Act (S. 1973). The bills would bring the U.S. national lab system into the 21st century and promote the easy transfer of federal research into the hands of the private sector, improving the public-private partnerships considered essential to bringing innovative ideas to the marketplace.

The House bill was introduced by Reps. Randy Hultgren (R-IL.), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Alan Nunnelee (R-MS). Hultgren, Fattah and Nunnelee are co-chairs on the House Science and National Labs Caucus. Hultgren and Kilmer are both members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and serve together on the Subcommittee on Research and Technology. The Senate companion bill is sponsored by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

In July 2013, the Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing to consider recommendations regarding how best to enhance DOE support of science and innovation through reforms in areas related to management, performance, technology transfer, and laboratory authorities and regulations. Additionally, the Heritage Foundation, the Center for American Progress and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation together produced a report supporting policy changes to update the national labs titled, “Turning the Page: Reimagining the National Labs in the 21st Century Innovation Economy.”

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