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Commerce Secretary Don Evans Releases Recommendations to Improve the Advanced Technology Program (ATP)

For Immediate Release: February 4, 2002

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Contact: Jim Dyke

Commerce Secretary Don Evans announced today the release of The Advanced Technology Program: Reform with a Purpose, a report that presents six recommendations for improving the program.

"Technologies developed through the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) have significant potential to bring economic growth and benefits to the entire nation. I feel strongly that implementation of these reforms will provide ATP with the proper tools and direction it needs to be effective in the Twenty-first Century."

Dr. Arden Bement, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which oversees the ATP, recognized the challenges the program faced while expressing his support for the reforms.

"During my time as the chairman of the ATP's Advisory Committee, I saw first hand both the program's potential to catalyze dramatic advances in technology that strengthen our Nation's economy, and the costs of the controversies that have hampered its mission and contributed to the perception of instability. I applaud Secretary Evans for his willingness to meet these issues head-on. I expect the reforms proposed in this report to put the ATP on a stable and productive footing for the future," Bement said.

Dr. Charles Wessner of the National Academy of Sciences added, "I personally believe this report is a well-researched and constructive effort. The report reflects a number of recommendations made by the National Research Council. As such, the report is a positive step in the overarching goal of improving and sustaining the program. One of the concerns of the NRC report was the need to enhance the dialogue and this report certainly does that."

The proposed reforms would:

1. Recognize the significant value of the resources that institutions of higher education offer by allowing universities to lead ATP joint ventures;

2. Offer universities increased incentive to participate in developing commercially relevant technologies by allowing them to negotiate with joint venture partners over the rights to hold the intellectual property that results from research;

3. Limit large companies' participation in ATP to joint ventures;

4. Reinvest a percentage of revenues derived from awards back into ATP to fund additional high-risk research and help stabilize the program;

5. Identify the scientific or technological barrier to product development during deliberation on funding decisions and explain why the removal of that barrier will allow the technology to move forward without further government support.

6. Determine, where appropriate, whether additional private-sector, non-proprietary input would improve the ability of ATP's selection boards to assess funding requests.

The report may be reviewed in full at http://www.atp.nist.gov/atp/secy_rept.