NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

Innovation in the U.S. Government

Joshua R. Bruce, John M. de Figueiredo

NBER Working Paper No. 27181
Issued in May 2020
NBER Program(s):Law and Economics, Public Economics, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

This paper examines the U.S. government’s intramural research and development efforts over a 40-year period, drawing together multiple human capital, government spending, and patent datasets. The U.S. Federal Government innovates along four dimensions: technological, organizational, regulatory, and policy. After discussing these dimensions, the paper focuses on the inputs to and outputs of government intramural technological innovation. We measure innovative effort and results by accounting for the government scientists and dollars committed to R&D and patents created with government involvement. Overall, we show that intramural innovations, measured by government-assigned patents, are slightly more original and general, but less cited, than patents awarded to private-sector companies and extramural organizations patenting in the same technology classes. The majority of the 200,000 federal government scientists work at the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and NASA, and are largely in physical science and engineering occupations; the scientific expertise of other agencies is heavily weighted toward mathematics, social sciences, and data analytics. As these latter disciplines’ innovative outputs are less readily catalogued with patents, measuring total government innovative output with government-assigned patents is likely to over-emphasize innovations in engineering and physical sciences while under-reporting intramural innovations in other disciplines. We discuss the implications of our findings for both public- and private-sector innovation efforts and pose questions for future research.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27181

 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us