Document of the Day: Senator Edward Kennedy on OTA, December 31, 1974

Today’s document of the day (available here) is a press release and memo sent to members of the Technology Assessment Board (TAB) on December 31, 1974. Senator Kennedy’s term as Chairman of the TAB was coming to a close and he used this document to “share his thoughts with (the TAB) about what we have accomplished thus far, and what still needs to be done.”

The memo continues as follows:

Congress needs its own source of unbiased technical expertise, and OTA is an institutional innovation to meet that need. But even more than a technical or institutional experiment, OTA is an experiment in how to make democracy work.

It is not just a matter of whether Congress can utilize technical information and advice. The crucial point is whether Congress can do so in the full glare of public scrutiny–and with the full participation of the varied public groups that have a stake in the outcome of the decisions.

Later on in the memo Sen. Kennedy mentions the topics OTA decided to examine:

-How should we allocate our resources to energy R&D?

-How economical is solar energy for the generation of electric power?

-What are the economic, social, and environmental impacts of drilling for offshore oil and gas? Of the use of deep water ports?

-How can we strengthen the technology of our fisheries industry?

-How can we strengthen overall food technology systems? What is the impact of the energy shortage on fertilizers and food production?

-How can we assure the nation adequate supplies of materials resources?

-What is the impact of automated mass transit technology–not only on movement of people and goods, but on jobs and the economy in general?

-How can we use our high technology products to strengthen America’s international competitive position?

This document is the first in a series of material from the OTA library. You can also find today’s document here on the OTA library page. Check back regularly as we add to this section of the site.