Reversing the Congressional Science Lobotomy

Rush Holt | Wired Science | April 29, 2009

In an op-ed article,  Rep. Holt makes the case that it is time for Congress to restore an important science resource to its rightful place – referring, of course, to OTA.  Holt points out that since very few members of Congress are scientists, they need their own source of science advice. He said:

While members of Congress do not suffer from a lack of information, we lack time and resources to assess the validity, credibility, and usefulness of the large amount of scientific information and advice we receive as it affects actual policy decisions. The purpose of the OTA was to assist members of Congress in this task. It both provided an important long-term perspective and alerted Congress to scientific and technological components of policy that might not be obvious.

Holt mentioned that OTA wrote comprehensive reports in the 1990s on issues that the Congress and the President are preparing to address today, for example: clinical preventive services, patient cost-sharing, health care in rural America, and health technologies. OTA also reported to Congress on energy efficiency, including how to save energy on transportation.