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--> 8 Public-Private Partnerships for Science and Technology Data As federal agency budget constraints limit new data collection efforts, there is a premium on obtaining more information from existing sources and for cooperative activities with nongovernmental partners. One of three small discussion groups convened during the workshop, chaired by Robert McGuckin of The Conference Board, was asked to consider opportunities for collaboration with nongovernmental partners in collecting and reporting innovation-related data. Private organizations that might be involved in joint ventures with government agencies include corporations, universities, trade associations, and nonprofit research institutions. An example is The Conference Board's production since 1995 of the Leading Economic Indicators and the Consumer Price Index. Vivian Singer of DRI/McGraw Hill, Inc., described a new government venture with the Department of Commerce to resume the Industrial Outlook series, formerly produced by the Department of Commerce. With regard to the appropriate division of labor between federal agencies and nongovernmental partners, participants in the discussion group suggested four general criteria: The set of innovation-related data collected and reported by federal agencies should not be all-encompassing in scope but should be limited to a core set of data that have broad application or that need to be collected from all or a very large sample of firms on a regular basis. Other, more specialized, survey activities could be conducted through public-private partnerships. Federal agencies are collectors of or have access to administrative data, some of it protected from disclosure; private organizations could focus on survey activities.
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--> Public-private partnerships may be most appropriate when the effort is exploratory, such as the development of new survey instruments. Public-private collaborations may be appropriate when there is a private market as well as a public policy need for the information. It emerged in the discussion that the main constraints on greater reliance on nongovernmental partners appear to stem from confidentiality or nondisclosure requirements and the need for private organizations to be supported or adequately compensated for their participation. It was suggested that there be a thorough review of confidentiality restrictions with a view to expanding the role of joint ventures and delegations via contract. Other participants noted that public agency involvement or support could facilitate publication of privately collected information that is considered a public good. Examples were patent and patent citation data acquired and organized by CHI Research, Inc. For their part, private organizations that collect innovation-related data such as R&D spending need to provide the reporting companies with useful information to sustain their cooperation. Examples are information linking participating firms' R&D efforts with performance measures and benchmarking information enabling managers to evaluate their company's innovation-related activities relative to those of principal competitors. Firms using such information for strategic planning may be willing to share the cost of such a survey program. Jules Duga mentioned that his Battelle survey program, R&D Profiles and Analyses for the Petroleum Industry, was a multiclient project that collected fees from participating firms who in turn received customized benchmarking reports. It was noted that the quality of survey data is probably higher when the respondents are paying for information they value. Several participants observed that regardless of which institutions collect and disseminate data, it should be a principal objective to create national databases that have appropriate identifiers enabling researchers to link data across data sets as the needs arise. Such linkages enhance the value of industrial research and innovation information to both public- and private-sector decision makers.
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