Rep. Robert S. Walker (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, says the ATP "hinders economic growth and fosters dependency." Once the flagship of the Clinton Administration's activist technology policy, the ATP now stands to lose more than 95% of its $431-million annual budget.
Nonetheless, a growing body of evidence suggests that government--and the ATP program in particular--can play an important role in speeding the transfer of technology from basic research to commercialization. Although the ATP program is too new to be fully evaluated--only 14 of the projects have been completed--several projects in addition to the auto body consortium have already produced results with important commercial ramifications.
In the field of opto-electronics, where American science is far ahead but American industry lags far behind, ATP grants have promoted the commercialization of state-of-the art research. ATP projects have helped American firms catch up with the competition in areas ranging from opto-electronic components for communications products to optical data storage.