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An Innovation Foundation for DOE: Roles and Opportunities


In recent years, Congress has created a number of agency-related nonprofit research foundations to provide a flexible, efficient method to establish and enhance public-private research and development partnerships. The Conference Report on the Energy and Water Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2020 directed the Department of Energy (DOE) to provide to the Committees on Appropriations of both Chambers of Congress a report on the value of creating a nonprofit foundation with requirements as outlined in the House and Senate Reports. The referenced Reports directed the DOE to contract with the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) to convene an expert Panel and issue a report regarding the value of creating a nonprofit foundation to assist the Department to advance its mission of addressing the nation’s energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.

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Study Report

Study Description

As directed, the Academy supported DOE with a detailed examination of agency-related nonprofit research foundations. This analysis, among other aspects, included:

  • An independent assessment, led by a Panel of Academy Fellows, of the value of a nonprofit foundation to promote technology transfer through DOE programs and laboratories to the marketplace and for the broader public benefit.
  • An examination of comparable foundations at other Federal agencies, with detail on their structure and governance and how they engage with the private sector to enhance ongoing and new efforts supporting the research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of innovative technologies.
  • An analysis on whether the DOE laboratory foundations associated with the DOE National Laboratories would be complemented by a DOE foundation and any anticipated challenges associated with such an effort.


If you have any questions or comments regarding the study, please contact, Brenna Isman, Director of Academy Studies, at

Study Fellows