Archive for the 'OTA Archive news' Category

Memories of Senator Kennedy

In his long career of public service, Senator Edward  Kennedy championed good governance, as demonstrated by his enduring support for the Office of Technology Assessment.

Speaking on March 2, 1972 in support of the legislation that created OTA, he said:

Technology Assessment refers to matters of the utmost importance and urgency to those of us in the Congress and to each of our citizens.  Like it or not, science and technology have become central to our civilization, to our economic strength, to the preservation of our environment, and to the quality of our lives.

What citizen does not have vital data on himself stored in some computer memory cell?  Who is not at the mercy of far-reaching power blackouts and brownouts?  How many citizens are impervious to the transportation snarls that strangle our cities?  What family will not someday be dependent on the outmoded medical technology which prevails in far too many of our hospitals?

Which one of us doesn’t daily take some chemical additives with his food?  Or hasn’t used some medication which FDA hasn’t yet certified as effective?  Who doesn’t breathe the pollution in our air?  Or regret the filth in our rivers and streams?

We live in a world increasingly shaped by man, and technology is the principal tool he uses to shape it.

He favored OTA as a way of assuring that new technological developments would be “channeled so as to achieve the maximum benefit for humanity.”  The transcript of the hearing can be found here in the archive.  (The quote above is from pages 35-36.)

Senator Kennedy was the first chairman of  OTA’s Technology Assessment Board and served on its Board throughout OTA’s entire existence, until the agency was disbanded in 1995.

Near the end of OTA, on July 20, 1995, Senator Kennedy again spoke on the floor of the Senate in defense of OTA:

In the years ahead, as we move into the 21st century, there will be even greater need to rely on OTA for impartial assessment of technology-related policies.  The world of science and its impact on public policy are becoming more complex, not less.  Technology is central to every aspect of American life, from biotechnology to law enforcement, from agriculture to education.  It would be a serious mistake to limit our ability as a legislature to evaluate and respond to the scientific and technological challenges facing Congress, the Administration, and the Nation.

OTA Forum on Technology and Governance in the 1990’s

On January 27, 1993 – in OTA’s 20th year – the Technology Assessment Board hosted a forum for the Congress on upcoming socio-technical issues. The original program is available here. The video from that session is available in nine parts below.

Welcome and Opening Remarks:

Dr. Roger Herdman – Director, OTA

Congressman George E. Brown, Jr. – Chair, Technology Assessment Board

Senator Edward M. Kennedy – Technology Assessment Board

International Security (15:20)

The Honorable Robert M. McNamara-

Former Secretary of Defense

Former President, The World Bank

International Security (cont’d.)

International Security (cont’d.)

International Security Q & A (1:40)

Congressman George E. Brown, Jr. – Chair, Technology Assessment Board

International Security Q & A (cont’d.)

Introduction (4:30)

Dr. Roger Herdman – Director of OTA

Congressman Amo Houghton, Jr. – Technology Assessment Board

Sustaining the Global Environment (7:50)

The Honorable Gro Harlem Brundtland-

Prime Minister of Norway

Chair, World Commission on Environment and Development

Sustaining the Global Environment (cont’d.)

Sustaining the Global Environment Q & A (12:10)

Sustaining the Global Environment Q & A (cont’d.)


Dr. Roger Herdman – Director, OTA

Congressman Don Sundquist – Technology Assessment Board

Congressman John Dingell – Technology Assessment Board

Economic Competitiveness in America (5:00)

Dr. Laura D’Andrea Tyson-

Chair-designate, President’s Council of Economic Advisors

Introduction (4:50)

Congressman Don Sundquist – Technology Assessment Board

Remarks (43:25)

Dr. John H. Gibbons, former Director, Office of Technology Assessment


Congressman Don Sundquist – Technology Assessment Board

Senator David Durenberger – Technology Assessment Board

Healthcare (3:30)

Dr. Arnold S. Relman-

Professor of Medicine and Social Medicine, Harvard School of Medicine

Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, New England Journal of Medicine

Healthcare Q & A (48:00)

Congressman Don Sundquist – Technology Assessment Board


Congressman Don Sundquist – Technology Assessment Board

Senator Orrin G. Hatch – Technology Assessment Board

Education (4:50)

Mr. Derek Bok –

President Emeritus, Harvard University

Education Q & A (50:00)

Congressman Don Sundquist – Technology Assessment Board

How to fix global warming and gain energy security

Peter Montague | Rachel’s Democracy and Health News | December 18, 2008

A newsletter article discusses a recent Stanford study by Mark Z. Jacobson comparing ten ways to generate electricity and two ways to make ethanol fuel.  When analyzing the study, the author asks “Where is the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment when you need it?”

Relics of Government Reforms Past

John Wonderlich | Sunlight Foundation Blog | November 11, 2008

A blog post says that “with so many options for coordinating or institutionalizing advice, recommendations, and reform, the incoming Obama administration has a long history to consider, and a plethora of options at hand.”  It mentions attempts to revive the  Office Of Technology Assessment, which is “sorely needed,” and the new FAS database of OTA reports.

Marylaine Block’s Picks of the Week

By Marylaine Block | On The Same Page | August 29, 2008

A Sweetwater County library, Wyoming, blog mentions the FAS OTA Archive.

Communicating Science to Congress-

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.