James Dupree | Washington Insider | July 21, 2011
Washington Insider discussed the amendments to the 2012 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill including one submitted by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) to re-establish OTA:
AMENDMENT TO H.R. 2551:
SEC. 211. There is appropriated, for salaries and expenses of the Office of Technology Assessment as authorized by the Technology Assessment Act of 1972 (2 U.S.C.471 et seq.), hereby derived from the amount provided in this Act for the payment to the House Historic Buildings Revitalization Trust Fund, $2,500,000.
According to Climate Science Watch blog Michael Halpern of the Union of Concerned Scientists, as well as a number of other scientific, transparency, public health, and public interest groups, urged members to support Holt’s amendment.
The ASBMB Policy Blotter blog post pointed out that that OTA “was a leader in practicing and encouraging delivery of public services in innovative and inexpensive ways.”
The amendment was voted down 176 to 235. The results of the roll call vote can be seen here.
Marisa Katz | Washington Post | October 30, 2009
The Washington Post is sponsoring “America’s Next Great Pundit Contest.” The Post received 4,800 entries from people who hoped to write better commentary than they had been reading. The Post selected ten entries to move to the next level of the competition. The winner of the contest will be hired to write a weekly column.
Among the ten finalists was the Nobel Prize -winning physicist, Burton Richter, who opined about the need for Congress to re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment. He pointed out that a 1974 OTA report, “Drug Bioequivalence,” is relevant in recent discussions of health care costs. He also recommended one of his favorite OTA reports, “Renewing Our Energy Future,” which discussed the potential of secondary sources for biofuels.
According to Richter, “A new OTA will not settle all the arguments because there are political dimensions to major technical issues, but at least it can help Congress arrive at a common starting point for complicated legislation.”
Kevin Drum of Mother Jones News kindly provided a summary of the columns at “Pundit Watch” for those wishing to save a little time.
Chris Mooney | Discover Blogs/The Intersection | March 31, 2009
A blog entry points to several articles that are calling for OTA to be restarted, and says that OTA should be brought back because “…Congress is literally flying blind. There is no body of consensus information that our legislators can use for the purposes of decision-making; but there is a heck of a lot of nonsense being fed to them constantly.”
ScienceCheerleader | March29, 2009
The Science Cheerleader recently met with Rep. Holt and Congressional Fellow Will O’Neal to talk about reopening OTA. She discusses their meeting in her blog post. The Science Cheerleader points out, “The Executive Branch (Obama) has no shortage of science and engineering advice on policy issues as well as programs to open bidirectional conversations with the public on key policy issues. Why shouldn’t Congress have the same resources available to them?”
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.
Steve Mirsky |Scientific American: 60-Second Science |February 19, 2009
A podcast about science advice to Congress from a session at the AAAS annual meeting says, “Time to bring back the Office of Technology Assessment.” Statements by Rep. Rush Holt and Lou Branscomb offered reasons for restoring OTA.