Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Partnerships and Technology Transfer

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Sponsored Research

Work for Others Agreement

scientistsThe DOE national laboratories were granted the authority to perform work for others by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 [Public Law 83-703; 42 USC 2053]. Work For Others programs at the DOE national laboratories are governed by DOE Directive 481.1-1A, "Reimbursable Work for Non-Federal Sponsors: Process Manual." Work For Others agreements provide an excellent way for companies, universities, and other entities to access the unique facilities, technologies, and expertise available at ORNL on a project-specific basis. This gives the sponsor access to research and development expertise and technology unavailable in the private sector, without having to expend the capital cost of developing or re-creating such facilities, expertise, and technology for itself.

Characteristics of Work For Others Agreements

  • Will only be used where the work to be performed (as described in the statement of work) is done solely by Laboratory employees.
  • The specific capability sought by the sponsor must not be available in the private sector; work must be rooted in a unique capability or facility—or a combination thereof—available at the Laboratory.
  • Projects must be approved by DOE, and must demonstrate non-interference with DOE missions of the Laboratory.
  • Rights in generated data depend on specific circumstances. Proprietary treatment of data is possible under certain circumstances.
  • Work is performed by Laboratory staff on behalf of the sponsor, only on a full-cost-recovery basis.
  • Intellectual property rights depend on specific circumstances: nature of sponsor, source of funds, type of technology being developed, etc. Sponsor may be granted rights in inventions, copyrights, etc. arising under WFO agreements depending on exact circumstances.

How Does My Company Engage the Laboratory for a Work For Others Partnership?

Companies, universities, non-profits, and other entities wishing to have work performed on their behalf by research staff at ORNL should be aware of the steps detailed below that are necessary to enter into a Work For Others relationship with ORNL:

  1. Engage with the research organization best able to provide the expertise that is sought—or with a research staff member in that organization—to determine if the Laboratory does indeed have the capability to conduct the desired research project. If so, the non-federal entity's technical representative and the principal investigator identified at the Laboratory for this project should develop a statement of work that accurately and completely describes the work to be performed, lays out a task plan in logical fashion, and includes timelines and associated budgets for each task or sub-task to performed as part of the research project.
  2. Once a statement of work is finalized, the Laboratory principal investigator will submit the project for approval (there are both Laboratory-level and DOE approvals required for such projects).
  3. Once the necessary project approvals are received, a Sponsored Research Manager in the Laboratory's Office of Technology Transfer will put together a draft Work For Others agreement, incorporating the statement of work, as well as project-specific and sponsor-specific details provided by the principal investigator.
  4. This draft agreement will be provided to the sponsor for review and approval. If approved by the sponsor, the Sponsored Research Manager will provide the sponsor executable copies of the agreement for signature and, once fully executed by both parties, the Sponsored Research Manager will provide the sponsor with an advance payment invoice; receipt of the funds specified by the advance payment invoice by the Laboratory is necessary before any work can begin on the project.
  5. If the sponsor requests any changes to the standard language of the agreement provided by the Sponsored Research Manager, any agreed-upon changes will have to be sent for agreement approval by DOE before the agreement can be finalized and executed.
  6. Upon DOE approval of any negotiated changes to the standard agreement language, the Sponsored Research Manager will provide executable copies of the agreement to the sponsor, along with an advance payment invoice. Again, work cannot commence until funds are received to cover the advance payment period.
  7. Once funds are received and an ORNL account is set up to collect costs for the project, the Principal Investigator can commence work on the project.

Advantages of Work For Others Agreements for the Sponsor

  • Sponsor has access to—and avoids need to replicate—unique, very expensive R&D facilities available at ORNL.
  • Expertise of interdisciplinary teams of scientists and engineers available on as-needed basis without having to expand Sponsor's employee rolls.
  • Provides Sponsor access to facilities and expertise not available in the private sector.
  • Rights in generated data and proprietary treatment of data available under some circumstances.
  • Access to intellectual property rights may be available to Sponsor depending on specific circumstances surrounding the project.

Key ORNL Contacts for the Sponsor

Technical Contacts:

Sponsors should engage ORNL scientists and engineers engaged in research areas of interest to begin partnership discussions around a potential Work For Others project statement of work. Information on the research organizations at ORNL, and the various types of work in which they are engaged, is available on the ORNL web page.

Agreement Contacts:

Sponsors or potential Sponsors wishing to discuss the specifics of Work For Others agreements should contact one of the following:

Jennifer Carpenter; Telephone 865.574-6605, Email carpenterjl@ornl.gov
Frank Damiano; Telephone 865.576-2967, Email damianofv@ornl.gov
Mark Reeves; Telephone 865.576.2577, Email reevesme@ornl.gov