America COMPETES Includes Competitions

I recently took a look at a Senate Appropriations report that gave details on proposed funding levels for NASA Space Technology. That report didn't specify funds for Centennial Challenge prizes.

Interestingly, the same day that the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation put forth the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 that seems to have served as a model for the Senate Appropriations bill, that committee also issued the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. Here is a working draft of the bill. There is a prize section of the bill that starts at page 15 of the draft. As noted by the OSTP blog, the Senate Advances Prizes in America COMPETES. From the OSTP comments:

The Prize Competitions section of the Committee bill would provide Federal Agencies across the Executive Branch with explicit authority to conduct prize competitions.

Here are some excerpts from the draft bill:

IN GENERAL.—Each head of an agency, or the heads of multiple agencies in cooperation, may carry out a program to award prizes competitively to stimulate innovation that has the potential to advance the mission of the respective agency.



‘‘(1) PROHIBITION ON THE GOVERNMENT ACQUIRING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS.—The Federal Government may not gain an interest in intellectual property developed by a participant in a competition without the written consent of the participant.

‘‘(2) LICENSES.—The Federal Government may negotiate a license for the use of intellectual property developed by a participant for a competition.


‘‘(A) NOTICE TO CONGRESS.—No prize competition under this section may offer a prize in an amount greater than $50,000,000 unless 30 days have elapsed after written notice has been transmitted to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Science and Technology of the House of Representatives.

‘‘(B) APPROVAL OF HEAD OF AGENCY.— No prize competition under this section may result in the award of more than $1,000,000 in cash prizes without the approval of the head of an agency.


the General Services Administration shall provide government wide services to share best practices and assist agencies in developing guidelines for issuing prize competitions. The General Services Administration shall develop a contract vehicle to provide agencies access to relevant products and services, including technical assistance in structuring and conducting prize competitions to take maximum benefit of the marketplace as they identify and pursue prize competitions to further the policy objectives of the Federal Government.


REPEAL OF SPACE ACT LIMITATION.—Section 314(a) of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (42 U.S.C. 2459f-1 is amended by striking ‘‘The Administration may carry out a program to award prizes only in conformity with this section.’’.

It will be interesting to see how this develops across the various agencies, including the agencies with an interest in space.

There is also a section of the bill on NASA starting at page 27 in the draft. Part of this section covers space technology:

It is the sense of Congress that a renewed emphasis on technology development would enhance current mission capabilities and enable future missions, while encouraging NASA, private industry, and academia to spur innovation. NASA’s Innovative Partnership Program is a valuable mechanism to accelerate technology maturation and encourage the transfer of technology into the private sector.

The bill also includes a section specifically on various cybersecurity competitions at levels appropriate for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, and also for universities and research labs.

The Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, directly or through appropriate Federal entities, shall establish cybersecurity competitions and challenges with cash prizes ...

There are authorized to be appropriated to the National Institute of Standards and Technology to carry out this section $15,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2011 through 2013.

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