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Special Report: IG-0819

August 5, 2009

Allegations of Conflict of Interest Regarding Licensing of PROTECT by Argonne National Laboratory

In February 2009, the Office of Inspector General received a letter from Congressman Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois, which included constituent allegations that an exclusive technology licensing agreement by Argonne National Laboratory was tainted by inadequate competition, conflicts of interest, and other improprieties. The technology in question was for the Program for Response Options and Technology Enhancements for Chemical/Biological Terrorism, commonly referred to as PROTECT. Because of the importance of the Department of Energy's technology transfer program, especially as implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act matures, we reviewed selected aspects of the licensing process for PROTECT to determine whether the allegations had merit. In summary, under the facts developed during our review, it was understandable that interested parties concluded that there was a conflict of interest in this matter and that Argonne may have provided the successful licensee with an unfair advantage. In part, this was consistent with aspects of the complaint from Congressman Kirk's constituent.

Topic: Management and Administration