Since their inception, the Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories have been in the vanguard of America's global research and development leadership. However, the national innovation system has changed. Today, much technology development and application occurs in the context of regional clusters of firms, trade associations, educational institutions, private labs, and regional economic development organizations. Unfortunately, legacy operating procedures limit the DOE labs' ability to engage fully with the regional economies in which they are located. This brief explains how the DOE and Congress can improve the impact of national labs in this new context.