The White House | April 27, 2009
President Obama announced the members of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) at the National Academy of Sciences, according to a White House press release available here. The council advises the President and Vice-President in areas of science, technology, and innovation.
Rosina Bierbaum, an expert in climate-change science and ecology and former OTA employee, was appointed to the council. She is currently Dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. At OTA, she directed a 1991 study Changing by Degrees: Steps To Reduce Greenhouse Gases, a study on climate change with reports to Congress in 1993: Preparing for an Uncertain Climate—Vol. I and Preparing for an Uncertain Climate—Vol. II, and other studies.
The White House | May 6, 2009
President Obama announced his intent to nominate Tara O’Toole as Under Secretary for Science & Technology, Department of Homeland Security, according to a White House press release. Tara O’Toole is currently the CEO and director of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, an independent organization that works to improve the U.S. response to biological threats. She is also a professor of medicine and of public health at the University of Pittsburgh. At OTA, she was a project director of the study, Dismantling the Bomb and Managing the Nuclear Materials (1993) and participated in several other studies.
Emily Yehle | Roll Call | May 6, 2009
Rep. Rush Holt testified at the House Legislative Branch Appropriations hearing Tuesday, asking the subcommittee to reinstate OTA in the 2010 budget.
“It was part of Congress. It spoke our language,” Holt was quoted as saying in the Roll Call article. “It understood our peculiarities — how Members worked and our schedule.”
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.
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?”