NASA has missed opportunities to transfer technologies it has developed to the private sector and other government agencies, according to a NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report released March 1.

The OIG report says NASA’s technology transfer efforts have been hindered by funding cuts and personnel reductions, noting that NASA spent just $19 million on technology transfer in 2012, down from $60 million in 2004. Over the same eight-year period, the number of patent attorneys at NASA field centers dropped from 29 to 19.

“NASA has missed opportunities to transfer technologies from its research and development efforts and to maximize partnerships that could provide additional resources, and industry and public have not fully benefited from NASA-developed technologies,” the report said.

Among the missed opportunities, according to the OIG report:

  • Algorithms designed to enable aircraft to fly precisely through the same airspace on multiple flights — a development that could have commercial application from improving the autopilot function on older aircraft.
  • Dryden Flight Research Center’s rejection of commercial requests to use a unique aeronautics testing facility, called the Flight Loads Laboratory, because project personnel did not recognize the facility as a transferable technology and had not developed a commercialization plan.