Technology Transfer Activities

What is Technology Transfer?

Technology transfer is the process of spreading information, knowledge, and expertise to the broader society in order to accelerate innovation; advance the Nation’s economic, social and environmental well-being; and increase its economic competitiveness.  It also includes the process of increasing the availability of and access to tools, equipment, devices, objects, techniques, systems and methods of organization that embody such information, knowledge and expertise.

Why does the Department of the Interior Undertake Technology Transfer Activities?

The FY 2014 enacted budget for the Department of the Interior (Interior) included $828.4 million for research and development.  Much of the funding was for applied research ($665.7 million), while basic research and development received $52.2 million and $110.5 million, respectively.  The programs supported through these funds generate large amounts of knowledge, information, and technology, which help Interior meet its mission objectives and are transferred to resource managers, stakeholders, and the general public. 

Technology transfer enables the nation to get more value for the resources it makes available to the Department's scientists, engineers and technical personnel. For Interior, the term includes a broad range of activities designed to disseminate scientific and technical information and knowledge between the Department and other Federal and non-Federal entities.  It includes but is not limited to publications, exchange of scientific and technical information, protecting and licensing intellectual property rights, and sharing via technology transfer agreements sanctioned by law—or otherwise making available—for scientific or technical purposes the expertise and specialized scientific material and resources which the Department manages.  

In general, technology transfer activities within the Department are consistent with its mission to protect and manage the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage; to make available scientific and other information about those resources; to honor trust responsibilities to Tribes; and to supply energy for the future.

Technology Transfer Activities within Interior Bureaus

Each bureau within Interior has its own set of technology transfer activities. Currently, only USGS and Reclamation have formal technology transfer programs.

This matrix indicates the types of technology transfer agreements the various bureaus use or plan to use. 

Recent Accomplishments     

The Department continues to build on actions initiated in previous years, to institutionalize technology transfer programs within the Department and to enable all bureaus to more effectively and efficiently implement the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 and related legislation while maintaining focus on their missions.  Actions include:

  • Developing a new Departmental Manual chapter that will establish Department policies and procedures for implementing and administering technology transfer agreements. 
  • The Department's scientists, engineers and technical personnel published over 7,500 reports, books, fact sheets, and other publications in FY 2014. 
  • Engaging in 601 Cooperative Research & Development Agreements (CRADAs) and over 290 other collaborative R&D relationships in FY 2014.   
  • Disclosing 5 new inventions in FY 2014.  In addition, three patents were filed and two patents were issued.
  • Managing 15 licenses for inventions and other intellectual property during FY 2014.

Additional details are contained in the latest annual report.