May 20, 1983
DAVID PACKARD REPORT ON FEDERAL LABORATORIES
Bayh-Dole, as originally enacted, gave the agencies the discretion to allow university-operated federal laboratories to own and manage their inventions. The Department of Energy had several of these laboratories. However, DoE refused to use that discretion, so Senator Dole amended the law making the delegation of authorities mandatory.
As the success of Bayh-Dole became evident, interest began to grow in achieving similar results with government-owned and operated laboratories. President Reagan asked David Packard to look into the situation, and the result was this report. As it was submitted, Packard wrote: “Micromanagement, or excessive detailed direction to the laboratories, focusing on procedures rather than content, should be stopped.”
The report stated: “The Panel has also made recommendations to relieve the constraints on Federal laboratories with regard to personnel administration…and to increase the collaboration of Federal laboratories with universities and industry. This last point is certainly not the least important. At a time when the nation’s economic and defense leadership is increasingly challenged, greater synergism between all our R&D institutions is a must.”
Senator Dole successfully introduced further amendments to Bayh-Dole in 1984, including what was later to become the Federal Technology Transfer Act. But it was not part of the final package because the House didn’t have a similar bill and wanted to consider the federal laboratory issue in the next session of Congress. When Congress re-convened, Senator Dole left the Senate Judiciary Committee to become Majority Leader. Two years later, the Federal Technology Transfer Act was made part of the Stevenson-Wydler Act, which fell under the jurisdiction of the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee– ironically, the very Committee which almost killed Bayh-Dole six years earlier.