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.
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.
By Mark Clayton | Christian Science Monitor | August 27, 2008
An article about nuclear power plants and laser isotope separation refers to a 1977 OTA report, Nuclear Proliferation and Safeguards Appendix Volume II Part 2.
By Kinchy, Abby J Kleinman, Daniel Lee; Autry, Robyn | Red Orbit | September 2, 2008
A blog post about globalization, neoliberalism and agricultural biotechnology policy refers to a 1991 OTA report, U.S. Dairy Industry at a Crossroads: Biotechnology and Policy Choices.
The Office of Technology Assessment Got it Right (Sort Of)
By Philip H. | The Intersection | September 2, 2008
This blog post mentioned the OTA Archive and discussed some ideas about how to communicate science to Congress. Referred to several OTA reports on issues that are still being debated: a 1990 report, Replacing Gasoline: Alternative Fuels for Light Duty Vehicles and Preparing for an Uncertain Climate Volume I and Volume II published in 1993.
The Office of Technology Assessment, like any successful organization, used regular self-evaluation to ensure that Congress got the most out of OTA reports. In response to suggestions from members of Congress and Hill staff, OTA created report briefs. These two to four page documents summarized the main points of a full report in simple, direct language. Today’s document is one of those report briefs, “The tragic loss of life from ‘friendly fire’ can be reduced”. It beings as follows:
The disturbing incidents of ‘friendly fire’ deaths suffered by the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf War focused new attention on an old problem. U.S. forces shooting at their own units caused 24 percent of U.S. combat deaths in the war. The fraction of losses due to friendly fire, or fratricide, seemed extraordinarily high and caused considerable public concern and international friction. The OTA report, Who Goes There: Friend or Foe?, explores the causes of friendly fire and some of the remedies that might be found in new technology, training, and doctrine.
Click here to read the full 1993 OTA report, “Who goes there: friend or foe?”
More report briefs will be posted on this page in the coming days.