[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 91 (Thursday, May 10, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 27365-27367]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-11234]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

14 CFR Part 1240

[Document Number NASA-2012-0002]
RIN 2700-AD51


Inventions and Contributions

AGENCY: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

ACTION: Direct final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NASA is amending its regulations to clarify and update the 
procedures for board recommended awards, and the procedures and 
requirements for recommended special initial awards, including patent 
application awards, software release awards, and Tech Brief awards, and 
to update citations and the information on the systems used for 
reporting inventions and issuing award payments. The revisions to this 
rule are part of NASA's retrospective plan under EO 13563 completed in 
August 2011. NASA's full plan can be accessed at: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/581545main_Final%20Plan%20for%20Retrospective%20Analysis%20of%20Existing%20Regulations.pdf.

DATES: This rule is effective July 9, 2012 without further action, 
unless adverse comment is received by June 11, 2012. If adverse comment 
is received, NASA will publish a timely withdrawal of the rule in the 
Federal Register.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Helen M. Galus, Office of the General 
Counsel, NASA Headquarters, telephone (202) 358-3437, fax (202) 358-
4341.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Final regulations relating to Invention and 
Contributions Board Awards for Scientific and Technical Contributions 
[14 CFR part 1240, Subpart 1], were published at 25 FR 1312 on February 
13, 1960. These regulations were written under the National Aeronautics 
and Space Act of 1958, As Amended, 42 U.S.C. 2457(f), 2458 and 
2473(b)(1) (now, National Aeronautics and Space Act, 51 U.S.C. 
20135(g), 20136 and 20112 (b)(1)). This subpart prescribes the 
regulations for the granting of monetary awards by the NASA 
Administrator, for scientific and technical contributions of 
significant value in the conduct of aeronautical and space activities. 
Final amendments to these regulations were published at 67 FR 31119 on 
May 9, 2002, to provide definitions, add new category of initial awards 
for release of software, to provide initial awards for the issuance of 
patents based upon continuation-in-part and divisional patent 
applications, to increase the amount of certain awards, and to change 
delegations of authority from the NASA Administrator.
    NASA is now again revising its regulations at 14 CFR part 1240, 
subpart 1, to clarify the eligibility requirements for certain awards 
and clarify that the awards are recommended by the Inventions and 
Contributions Board (hereinafter ``the Board''), but final terms and 
conditions of the awards are at the discretion of the Administrator or 
his designee, the revisions also provide the Board more flexibility in 
the amount of the special awards to be recommended. Additionally, the 
National Aeronautics and Space Act (hereinafter ``the Space Act''), is 
now codified in Title 51 of the United States Code, so citations to 
this Act have been updated accordingly. The regulations have also been 
revised, in part, to make them conform closer to the terms of the Space 
Act, and to reflect current accounting techniques used at the Agency. 
Additional revisions include rendering the terminology consistent 
within the regulations and the sentence structure grammatically 
complete and easier to understand. Finally, the revisions reflect 
organizational management changes that have taken place within the 
agency and the respective resulting responsibilities.

Direct Final Rule and Significant Adverse Comments

    NASA has determined this rulemaking meets the criteria for a direct 
final rule because it involves clarifications, updating, and minor 
substantive changes to the existing regulations. NASA does not 
anticipate this direct final rule will result in any major changes to 
its current awards program. NASA expects no opposition to the changes 
and no significant adverse comments. However, if NASA receives a 
significant adverse comment, the Agency will withdraw this direct final 
rule by publishing a document in the Federal Register. A significant 
adverse comment is one that explains:

[[Page 27366]]

(1) Why the direct final rule is inappropriate, including challenges to 
the rule's underlying premise or approach; or (2) why the direct final 
rule will be ineffective or unacceptable without a change. In 
determining whether a comment necessitates withdrawal of this direct 
final rule, NASA will consider whether it warrants a substantive 
response in a notice and comment process.

Statutory Authority

    The Invention and Contributions Board is established under the 
National Aeronautics and Space Act, as amended, 51 U.S.C. 20135(g). 51 
U.S.C. 20136(a) authorizes the NASA Administrator to make monetary 
awards to any person for any scientific or technical contribution to 
NASA which is determined by the Administrator to have significant value 
in the conduct of aeronautical and space activities. Applications for 
such awards are referred to the Inventions and Contributions Board 
which transmits to the Administrator its recommendation as to the terms 
of the award. The Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986, sec. 12, 15 
U.S.C. 3710b, requires, in part, the head of each Federal agency (that 
is making expenditures at a rate of more than $50,000,000 per fiscal 
year for research and development in its Government-operated 
laboratories) to use the appropriate statutory authority to develop and 
implement a cash awards program to reward its scientific, engineering, 
and technical personnel for inventions, innovations, computer software, 
or other outstanding scientific or technological contributions of value 
to the United States due to commercial application or due to 
contributions to missions of the Federal agency or the Federal 
government. Regulations setting forth the eligibility and procedures 
for submitting applications for monetary awards to the Administrator of 
NASA for scientific and technical contributions which have significant 
value in the conduct of aeronautical and space activities pursuant to 
the Space Act, and establishing an awards program consistent with the 
Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 are provided in Title 14 of the 
Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1240, Subpart 1.

Regulatory Analysis Section

Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

    This rule does not contain an information collection requirement 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et 
seq.).

Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563

    Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 direct agencies to assess all 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive 
Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and 
benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting 
flexibility. This rule has been designated a ``significant regulatory 
action'' although not economically significant, under section 3(f) of 
Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, the rule has been reviewed by the 
Office of Management and Budget.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    It has been certified that this rule is not subject to the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601) because it would not, if 
promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number 
of small entities. The rule sets forth procedures for submitting 
applications for monetary awards to the Administrator of NASA for 
scientific and technical contributions which have significant value in 
the conduct of aeronautical and space activities pursuant to the Space 
Act, and establishes the awards program consistent with the Federal 
Technology Transfer Act of 1986. Based on the typical recipient and 
number of these awards, the rule will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 1240

    Awards, Inventions and contributions.

    Accordingly, 14 CFR part 1240 is amended as follows:

PART 1240--INVENTIONS AND CONTRIBUTIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 1240 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority: Section 20136 of the National Aeronautics and Space 
Act (51 U.S.C. 20136), and the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 
1986, sec. 12, 15 U.S.C. 3710b(1).


0
2. Section 1240.100 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  1240.100  Purpose.

    This subpart prescribes procedures for submitting applications for 
monetary awards to the Administrator of NASA for scientific and 
technical contributions which have significant value in the conduct of 
aeronautical and space activities pursuant to 51 U.S.C. 20136, and 
establishes the awards program consistent with the Federal Technology 
Transfer Act of 1986, section 12, 15 U.S.C. 3710b(1).

0
3. Section 1240.101 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  1240.101  Scope.

    This subpart applies to awards for any scientific or technical 
contribution, whether or not patentable, which is determined by the 
Administrator after referral to the Inventions and Contributions Board 
to have significant value in the conduct of aeronautical and space 
activities, upon submission of an application for award to NASA, or 
upon the Administrator's own initiative, under 51 U.S.C. 20136.

0
4. Section 1240.102, paragraph (g), is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  1240.102  Definitions.

* * * * *
    (g) Innovation means a mathematical, engineering or scientific 
concept, idea, design, process, or product.
* * * * *

0
5. Section 1240.104, paragraph (a), is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  1240.104  Applications for awards.

    (a) Eligibility. Applications for award may be submitted by any 
person including any individual, partnership, corporation, association, 
institution, or other entity. An application for an award under this 
section is separate from application for an award under Sec.  1240.105 
and may be submitted whether or not the contribution is also eligible 
for an award under Sec.  1240.105.
* * * * *

0
6. Section 1240.105 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  1240.105  Special initial awards--NASA and NASA contractor 
employees.

    (a) Patent Application Awards. (1) When the Board receives written 
notice, in the manner prescribed by the Board, from the Agency Counsel 
for Intellectual Property or the Patent or Intellectual Property 
Counsel at a NASA Center that an invention made by an employee of NASA 
or a NASA contractor and reported to NASA in the manner prescribed by 
the Board is eligible for a patent application award, the Board may 
recommend to the Administrator or a designee that an award be made, 
including a specific recommended amount and distribution thereof for 
any multiple inventors, so long as the

[[Page 27367]]

following eligibility conditions have been met:
    (i) A nonprovisional U.S. patent application has been filed 
covering the invention and NASA has either an ownership interest in the 
invention or an irrevocable, royalty-free, license to practice the 
invention, or have the invention practiced for or on its behalf, 
throughout the world, or the invention has been assigned by NASA to a 
contractor under 35 U.S.C. 202(e); or
    (ii) A continuation-in-part or divisional patent has been issued 
based on a patent application that is eligible for an award under 
paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section.
    (2) No additional award will be given for a continuation patent 
application where an award was authorized for the parent application 
and the parent application will be or has been abandoned. In addition, 
awards will not be granted for provisional applications under 35 U.S.C. 
111(b) or reissue applications under 35 U.S.C. 251.
    (b) Software Release Awards. (1) When the Board receives written 
notice, in the manner prescribed by the procedures of the Board, that a 
NASA Center has approved the initial (first) release to a qualified 
user of a software package based on a software innovation made by an 
employee of NASA or a NASA contractor and reported to NASA in the 
manner prescribed by the procedures of the Board, the Board may 
recommend to the Administrator or designee that an award be made, 
including a specific amount and distribution thereof for any multiple 
innovators, so long as the following conditions have been met:
    (i) NASA has either an ownership interest in the software or an 
irrevocable, royalty-free, license to reproduce, prepare derivative 
works, distribute, perform and display the software, throughout the 
world for governmental purposes;
    (ii) The software is of commercial quality as defined in Sec.  
1240.102; and
    (iii) The software has been verified to perform the functions 
claimed in its documentation on the platform for which it was designed 
without harm to the systems or data contained within.
    (2) Software that is the subject of a software release award is not 
eligible to receive a Tech Brief award based upon the publication of an 
announcement of availability in ``NASA Tech Briefs.''
    (3) Software release awards for modifications made to software for 
which the innovators have already received an initial software release 
award will be at the discretion of the Administrator or his designee, 
upon recommendation by the Board.
    (c) Tech Briefs Awards. When the Board receives written notice, in 
the manner and format prescribed by the procedures of the Board, that a 
NASA Center has approved for publication a NASA Tech Brief based on an 
innovation made by an employee of NASA or a NASA contractor and 
reported to NASA in the manner and form prescribed by the procedures of 
the Board, the Board may recommend to the Administrator or designee 
that an award be made, including a specific amount and distribution 
thereof for any multiple innovators.
    (d) When a Patent Application Award, a Software Release Award, and 
a Tech Brief Award have been authorized for the same contribution, the 
awards will be cumulative.

0
7. Section 1240.108, paragraph (a), is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  1240.108  Reconsideration.

    (a) With respect to each completed application, in those cases 
where the Board does not recommend an award, the applicant may, within 
such period as the Board may set but in no event less than 30 days from 
notification, request reconsideration of the Board's decision.
* * * * *

0
8. Section 1240.110 is amended by revising the section heading, 
designating the existing text as paragraph (a), and adding paragraphs 
(b) and (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  1240.110  Recommendation to, and action by, the Administrator.

* * * * *
    (b) The granting, denying or modification of any Board recommended 
award under this subpart will be at the sole discretion of the 
Administrator or his designee, who will determine the final terms and 
conditions of each award after consideration of the criteria in Sec.  
1240.103.
    (c) In addition, the Board may recommend, and the Administrator or 
his designee may grant, non-monetary awards under other applicable laws 
and regulations.

0
9. Section 1240.111 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  1240.111  Release

    Under subsection 20136(c) of the National Aeronautics and Space 
Act, no award will be made to an applicant unless the applicant submits 
a duly executed release, in a form specified by the Administrator, of 
all claims the applicant may have to receive any compensation (other 
than the award recommended) from the United States Government for use 
of the contribution or any element thereof at any time by or on behalf 
of the United States, or by or on behalf of any foreign government 
pursuant to any existing or future treaty or agreement with the United 
States, within the United States, or at any other place.

0
10. Section 1240.112 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  1240.112  Presentation of awards.

    (a) Written acknowledgments to employees of NASA receiving awards 
will be provided by the appropriate Official-in-Charge at the 
Headquarters Office, by the Director of the cognizant NASA Center, or 
by a designee.
    (b) Written acknowledgments to employees of NASA contractors 
receiving awards will be forwarded to contractor officials for suitable 
presentation.
    (c) Monetary awards will be paid by check or electronic funds 
transfer.

0
11. Section 1240.113 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  1240.113  Financial accounting.

    NASA shall provide for appropriate database and accounting 
system(s) to ensure that award payments are recorded and disbursed in 
an orderly fashion and in the proper amounts to proper awardees.

0
12. Section 1240.114 is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  1240.114  Delegation of authority.

    (a) The Chairperson, Inventions and Contributions Board, is 
delegated authority to approve and execute grants of awards for 
significant scientific or technical contributions not exceeding $2,000 
per contributor, when in accordance with the recommendation of the 
Board and in conformity with applicable law and regulations.
    (b) The Chairperson, Inventions and Contributions Board, is 
delegated authority to approve and execute grants of awards not 
exceeding $2,000 per awardee, upon the notification that:
    (1) A Patent Application Award has been recommended by the Board 
pursuant to Sec.  1240.105(a);
    (2) A Software Release Award has been recommended by the Board 
pursuant to Sec.  1240.105(b); or
    (3) A Tech Briefs Award has been recommended by the Board pursuant 
to Sec.  1240.105(c).

Charles F. Bolden, Jr.,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2012-11234 Filed 5-9-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE P