High Technology: The Glue between Government and Industry

By Meyers, Charles E. | Security Management, September 1992 | Go to article overview

High Technology: The Glue between Government and Industry


Meyers, Charles E., Security Management


STEALTH FIGHTERS, LASER-GUIDed smart bombs, cruise missiles, and other weapons used in the Persian Gulf War demonstrated America's advanced national security technologies. Many of these advances are available to private industry and provide the basis for new security products and services.

New technological products and services can make history and be risky innovations at the same time. Companies that work with new technology generally experience longer lead times and higher product casualty rates. The outcomes of product and service development also become more unpredictable.

Today, major security developments published by the federal government and federal laboratories are more likely to be adopted first by foreign companies, which may have more resources than US companies to invest in medium- to long-range technology development programs.

As foreign companies begin to compete in the US and world security markets, transferring security technology from the government to the private sector takes on new dimensions. Growing industry and public awareness have prompted efforts to improve the United States' competitiveness. This competitiveness is enhanced by the national laboratories' support of the US private security industry.

Cooperative partnerships between the national laboratories and industry offer access to government-funded and developed security technology. This cooperation reduces the risk involved in developing a new product or service. Partnerships also provide American industries with a competitive edge in national and international markets. See the chart on the following page for a list of some of these benefits.

The National Competitiveness Technology Transfer Act of 1989 made technology transfer a mission of the national laboratories. At the 7th Joint Government-Industry Symposium and Exhibition on Security Technology in June 1991, Undersecretary of Energy John C. Tuck said, "We intend to |obtain~ the most leverage in the private sector from government-funded technologies relevant to security."

Sandia National Laboratories is the US Department of Energy's (DoE) lead laboratory in physical security research and development. The DoE has invested more than $200 million since 1975 in developing a state-of-the-art security technology base at Sandia to support DoE facilities. Sandia is a multiprogram engineering laboratory that AT&T has operated for DoE on a no-profit, no-fee basis since 1949.

Under the Technology Transfer Act, Sandia can provide US private industry access to all nonsensitive aspects of the DoE-funded physical security technology base.

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