Congressional Research Service. December 3, 2012.
There is ongoing interest in the pace of U.S. technological advancement due to its influence on U.S. economic growth, productivity, and international competitiveness. Because technology can contribute to economic growth and productivity increases, congressional attention has focused on how to augment private-sector technological development. Legislative activity over the past 30 or more years has created a policy for technology development, albeit an ad hoc one. Because of the lack of consensus on the scope and direction of a national policy, Congress has taken an incremental approach aimed at creating new mechanisms to facilitate technological advancement in particular areas and making changes and improvements as necessary.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL33528.pdf [PDF format, 15 pages].
U.S. Department of Agriculture. September 2012.
This brief examines the funding and performance of agricultural R&D to assess the evolving roles of the public and private sectors in the U.S. agricultural research system. There is a clear, long-term trend toward greater private sector funding and performance of R&D. In 2007, the private sector performed 53 percent of total food and agricultural research in the United States, and privately funded R&D has grown faster than publicly funded R&D over the long term. Public-sector funders and performers of R&D play a largely complementary role by emphasizing social returns in the selection of research topics and valuing rapid and widespread disclosure of new knowledge.
http://ers.usda.gov/media/913804/eb19.pdf [PDF format, 8 pages].
Congressional Research Service. August 28, 2012.
Manufacturing plays an important role in the nation’s economy, employment, and national defense. Accordingly, Congress has maintained a strong interest in the health of the U.S. manufacturing sector. Some analysts have expressed concerns about a decades-long decline in manufacturing employment punctuated by a steep drop from 2001 to 2010, as well as about the offshore outsourcing of production and related functions, such as research and development, by U.S. manufacturers. Others see the U.S. manufacturing sector as vibrant and healthy as evidenced by growth in output and productivity. The Obama Administration has undertaken a number of initiatives intended to support U.S. manufacturing, including establishment of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (AMNPO), Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia program, National Robotics Initiative, and Materials Genome Initiative.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42625.pdf [PDF format, 21 pages].
Congressional Research Service. August 20, 2012.
Congress has recently demonstrated significant ongoing interest in litigation by “patent assertion entities” (PAEs), which are colloquially known as “patent trolls” and sometimes referred to as “non-practicing entities” (NPEs). The PAE business model focuses not on developing or commercializing patented inventions but on buying and asserting patents, often against firms that have already begun using the claimed technology after developing it independently, unaware of the PAE patent. PAEs include not only freestanding businesses but patent holding subsidiaries, affiliates, and shells of operating companies that want to participate in the PAE industry and/or a new means of countering competitors. This report reviews the current debate and controversy surrounding PAEs and their effect on innovation, examines the reasons for the rise in PAE litigation, and explores the legislative options available to Congress if it decides that these are issues that should be addressed.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42668.pdf [PDF format, 23 pages].
Congressional Research Service. June 14, 2012.
Congress has received President Obama’s budget request for FY2013 which includes $140.820 billion for research and development (R&D), a $1.951 billion (1.4%) increase from the FY2012 estimated funding level of $138.869 billion. The request represents the President’s R&D priorities; Congress may opt to agree with part or all of the request, or may express different priorities through the appropriations process. In particular, Congress will play a central role in determining the extent to which the federal R&D investment can grow in the context of increased pressure on discretionary spending and how available funding will be prioritized and allocated. Low or negative growth in the overall R&D investment may require movement of resources across disciplines, programs, or agencies to address priorities.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42410.pdf [PDF format, 55 pages].