The U.S. Dept. of Commerce's Advanced Technology Program (ATP) funds early-stage, high-risk research that might not be taken on without government support. Technologies developed through the ATP potentially can bring economic growth and benefits to the entire nation, not simply to benefit individual award recipients. ATP has been controversial since its beginning in 1988, being criticized as corporate welfare (funding large companies that have the resources to conduct independent research), and as funding research too close to product development. Program stability has been hindered by these ongoing debates.
The DOC says ATP funding has been beneficial and basic research continues to be a priority for federal investment in science and technology. Commerce Secretary Don Evans notes that it is necessary for ATP to become more responsive to the changing research and business environments and be given a greater degree of stability to fully achieve its promise. Therefore to get things back on track, Secretary Evans initiated The Advanced Technology Program: Reform with a Purpose, a report that presents six recommendations for improving the program. Implementation of these reforms should provide ATP with the proper tools and direction it needs to be effective in the 21st Century, says Evans.