Congresss must improve accounting rules for national laboratories overhead.
Congress could increase technology transfer out of U.S. federal laboratories by providing the laboratories additional overhead flexibility in two ways. First, Congress could remove the rigid accounting buckets from lab overhead and instead simply provide accounting rules for what the single tranche of overhead funds can be used for. Second, to increase support for technology transfer, Congress should take this reform a step forward by explicitly defining technology transfer to include early-stage technology maturation. In practice, this means the labs are capable of investing in lab overhead in early stage demonstrations that either removes technology barriers limiting private sector interest or re-purposes original research for new problems. In either case, these funds would leverage publicly funded research results that would normally sit on the lab shelf and instead move it closer to potentially successful market outcomes.