50 U.S. Code § 2791 - Laboratory-directed research and development programs

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(a) Authority

Government-owned, contractor-operated laboratories that are funded out of funds available to the Department of Energy for national security programs are authorized to carry out laboratory-directed research and development.

(b) Regulations

The Secretary of Energy shall prescribe regulations for the conduct of laboratory-directed research and development at such laboratories.

(c) Funding

Of the funds provided by the Department of Energy to a national security laboratory for national security activities, the Secretary shall provide a specific amount, of not less than 5 percent and not more than 7 percent of such funds, to be used by the laboratory for laboratory-directed research and development.

(d) “Laboratory-directed research and development” defined

For purposes of this section, the term “laboratory-directed research and development” means research and development work of a creative and innovative nature which, under the regulations prescribed pursuant to subsection (b), is selected by the director of a laboratory for the purpose of maintaining the vitality of the laboratory in defense-related scientific disciplines.

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries

Section was formerly classified to section 7257a of Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare, prior to renumbering by Pub. L. 108–136.


2015—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 114–92 substituted “to a national security laboratory” for “to such laboratories”, “of not less than 5 percent and not more than 7 percent” for “not to exceed 6 percent”, and “by the laboratory” for “by such laboratories”.

2003—Pub. L. 108–136, § 3141(k)(6)(D), made technical amendment to section catchline.

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Pilot Program on Unavailability for Overhead Costs of Amounts Specified for Laboratory-Directed Research and Development

Pub. L. 114–328, div. C, title XXXI, § 3119, Dec. 23, 2016, 130 Stat. 2763, as amended by Pub. L. 116–92, div. C, title XXXI, § 3118, Dec. 20, 2019, 133 Stat. 1952; Pub. L. 116–283, div. C, title XXXI, § 3162, Jan. 1, 2021, 134 Stat. 4391, provided that:

“(a) In General.—
The Secretary of Energy shall establish a pilot program under which each national security laboratory (as defined in section 4002 of the Atomic Energy Defense Act (50 U.S.C. 2501)) is prohibited from using funds described in subsection (b) to cover the costs of general and administrative overhead for the laboratory.
“(b) Funds Described.—
The funds described in this subsection are funds made available for a national security laboratory under section 4811(c) of the Atomic Energy Defense Act (50 U.S.C. 2791(c)) for laboratory-directed research and development.
“(c) Duration.—The pilot program required by subsection (a) shall—
take effect on the first day of the first fiscal year beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act [Dec. 23, 2016]; and
terminate on the date that is nine years after the day described in paragraph (1).
“(d) Report Required.—
Not later than February 15, 2025, the Administrator for Nuclear Security shall submit to the congressional defense committees [Committees on Armed Services and Appropriations of the Senate and the House of Representatives] a report that assesses the costs, benefits, risks, and other effects of the pilot program, including effects on laboratory-directed research and development and other programs.”

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