Restart the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment

Gerald L. Epstein | Science Progress | March 31, 2009

An article gives a brief history of OTA and argues that the Congress needs technical support much more today than when OTA was orginally created.  The article also points out that OTA is not just for scientists:

Ironically, the scientific community’s strong support for OTA may have created the false impression that OTA primarily served to support scientists. This is like saying that television weather announcers primarily serve to support professional meteorologists—which is, of course, precisely backwards. Meteorologists already know the weather. The role of television weather announcers is to take meteorological forecasts, turn them into language the rest of us can understand, and enable us all to make better plans. The scientific community supported OTA not because it benefitted scientists directly, but because it enabled members of Congress to make better decisions about policy issues with significant scientific and technological components.

2 Responses to “Restart the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment”

  • The OTA proved to be a vital function for Congress and it served as a model for the world to emulate. As I recall the OTA publications were very often one the few government publications that all got distributed rather than lying around in a large archived pile. The reports that came out of OTA were remarkable for their clarity and utility; they achieved their objective of being politically neutral and unbiased in their content. The trouble OTA had was the new Republican right didn’t want objective data, because their emergent constituency wanted to create their own science. So the Newt Gingrich Republicans did away with an office that was the envry of the world. Many countries who had tried to emulate OTA were shocked to see that the United States had gutted such a useful model. Bringing OTA back would go a long way to restoring our capacity to create objective reports at a time Congress badly needs information that is reliable. It was tragic when OTA was cutoff, it would be wonderful to see it return.

  • Really nice post and blog. I hope to read more information in your posts thanks.

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