The General Services Administration indicated yesterday it will delay enforcement of a new regulation that would forfeit government rights to income from inventions developed with federal research money.
GSA Administrator Jay Solomon said he will go along with a request from a branch of the Office of Management and Budget, which said the policy must have further review.
The OMB acted after Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.) complained that the new GSA policy conflicted with a congressional study of the issue.
Nelson announced yesterday that a subcommittee of the Select Committee on Small Business of which he is chairman, is planning three days of hearings next month to learn more about the issue.
Nelson was joined earlier this week by consumer advocate Ralph Nader in protesting GSA issuance of the new regulation that would let universities and nonprofit organizations profit from discoveries made with federal research money.
The hearings set for next month by the monopoly subcommittee will be a continuation of a series begun last December as part of an investigation into the economic impact of conflicting federal patent policy.
Nelson said that several federal agencies have established patent rights policies, but that the new rule issued by GSA could lead to a sacrifice the government of potential income derived from research it finances.
The request for a 120 day delay in enforcement of the GSA rule was made by Lester A. Fettig, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, an arm of the OMB.
Fettig, responding to Nelson's request asked GSA Administrator Solomon to delay the new rule so the White House and Congress can consider it in more depth.
The OMB official also notified other federal agencies of his request for a delay, cautioning them, in effect, to make no agreements under the new rule that might surrender a government, claim to the fruits of a research discovery.
Nelson said that application of the rule issued by GSA could cause the government to lose rights to developments achieved with billions of dollars of federal research money. The government will spend more than $5 billion on research programs next year.