Jan 12 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) recently introduced the Improving Efficiency to Increase Competition Act, legislation that would improve efficiency for intellectual property developed by federal grantees and reduce the red tape for these grantees, particularly universities, so they can focus on research and development of new ideas and inventions.

“This legislation directs the GAO to conduct a study on the disclosure processes of intellectual property developed by federal grantees under the Bayh-Dole Act – an act which has fostered competition, innovation, and economic growth,” said Senator Tillis. “The study would include important information on opportunities to improve the current grant reporting system and address challenges that affect the development of new inventions so that a greater number of grantees can have a seat at the innovation table.”  

“As Chair of the Intellectual Property Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, I know how important it is to support the development of new ideas and reduce the barriers for innovators—like the University of Delaware—to bring their ideas from the lab to the assembly line,” said Senator Coons. “This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will support efforts to eliminate unnecessary red tape so that federal grantees can thrive, and their ideas can bolster national competitiveness and create new innovations and technologies.” 


In 1980, Congress enacted the bipartisan Bayh-Dole Act. This intellectual property reform legislation helped drive and support the innovation ecosystem we see today. This law allows federal grant holders to retain their patents on inventions developed with federal grant funding and to license those inventions to help engage private sector development and commercialization of the inventions. The Bayh-Dole Act has allowed the United States, particularly American universities, to stay competitive globally. 

The Bayh-Dole Act requires government grantees and contractors to report any intellectual property developed with federal funding. However, each government agency involved in grantmaking has established different reporting methods, various forms of communication with grantees, and its own standards for retaining the intellectual property of the grantee. Currently, grantees have to navigate the reporting system differently for each federal agency, a process that requires a substantial expenditure of time and resources. 

The Improving Efficiency to Increase Competition Act of 2024 would require the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s Comptroller General to conduct a study on the disclosure processes for intellectual property developed by federal grantees under the Bayh-Dole Act. The study would include information on existing barriers to efficient reporting, how these barriers have affected the development of new inventions, and opportunities to improve the current reporting system. GAO would be required to inquire how the barriers have affected grantees of various sizes, budgets, geographical locations, and specialties. This legislation will help ensure that different industries and areas of the country are represented in the study. 

The Improving Efficiency to Increase Competition Act is endorsed by the Bayh-Dole Coalition, Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, University of Delaware, University of Colorado, Colorado State University, the University of Nebraska System, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and AUTM.  

A one-pager on the bill is available HERE.

Full bill text is available HERE.