McMorris Rodgers requests review of technology transfers to China

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) has called for a review of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) technology transfer activities to ensure there are controls in place to protect technology licenses in the United States from transferring to foreign companies or adversaries like China.

The DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) oversees the department’s technology commercialization programs. It ensures that taxpayer-funded technologies developed by DOE can be commercialized for the benefit of the United States. 

Rep. McMorris Rodgers, who serves as ranking member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, recently wrote to U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro about the need to protect U.S. investment in leading technologies and U.S. manufacturing jobs.

“While OTT’s mission is important, it is also essential that potential technology transfers be scrutinized to ensure that taxpayer-funded technologies are not transferred to foreign companies that will ultimately move jobs overseas and use U.S. technology breakthroughs to compete against U.S. industry,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter to Dodaro on Nov. 4.

Rep. McMorris Rodgers and Sen. Barrasso requested that the Government Accountability Office undertake a broad review of DOE’s technology transfer and intellectual property protection activities. 

“Specifically, we request that GAO evaluate DOE’s technology transfer program and its implementation across the DOE enterprise, with specific focus on the controls in place to protect taxpayer-funded technologies from foreign transfer,” the letter said.

“Further, we request that GAO evaluate the tools available to the government to monitor critical and emerging technologies funded by DOE that have already transferred to U.S. companies to guard against their potential later acquisition by or transfer to foreign companies or countries.”

The letter also stated that the GAO review should explore how DOE enforces the terms of its laboratories’ licenses.