Archive for the 'OTA in the news' Category

Holt Pushes to Re-Fund OTA

Jordy Yager | The Hill | February 24, 2010

Rush Holt (D- N.J.) testified at a hearing of the House Legislative Branch Subcommittee on Appropriations according to this blog post.   Holt pushed to re-fund OTA because  Congress needs  science and technology advice now more than ever, according to The Hill.

The Subcommittee  chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said, “I want there to be more clear bipartisan support from the subcommittee, so we’re a long way from getting there, and we have to make sure that leadership is supportive of it,”  Yager reported.

Punditry Contestant Recommends OTA

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.

Holt Testifies at Appropriations Hearing

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.”

U.S. Science Remains Far From Its Rightful Place

Laura Sanders | Science News | March 14, 2009

In a column (interview) about the state of U. S. science, Rush Holt (D-NJ) says he is troubled that many people have a bad attitude about science.  He said, “This attitude is seen with the latest stimulus package, where people go on the House floor — members of Congress — and ridicule the idea of funding science. They did!”

To explain why he thinks that science is important, Holt said,

It is from science that we get the innovation that provides productivity and growth for the future economy, so it is critically important for our economic well-being. It also adds to our quality of life in material ways. But I think most scientists still feel that there is a higher calling to what they do, that understanding how things work is an end in itself, and it’s a glorious end in itself.

Where legislators get their science information, according to Rep. Holt:

Well, in many cases, they don’t. They get it from whoever was the last person to visit their office, who may or may not know anything about science….

We should return to vibrancy the Office of Technology Assessment, which was abolished 14 years ago now. OTA was a terrific resource for anticipating the [scientific] questions that were coming up. It worked very well, and we can restore it just as it was, to very good effect.

About plans to reinstate OTA, Holt said, “I try again every year. I’m trying again this year.”

The Bleeding Edge: Tech Predictions for 2009

David P. McClure | The CPA Technology Advisor | January 2009

A recent magazine column scores technology predictions for 2008 and makes new predictions for 2009.  One of the predictions is that a cabinet-level technology officer will be created in the new administration, which is based upon an idea floated by President Obama during his campaign.   Pointing out the need for such an office, the column states, “Since the Congress dismantled the Office of Technology Assessment more than a decade ago, the federal government has been forced to deal with rapidly evolving technologies with little or no independent guidance and no central point from which to make national policies to advance technology utilization. I’m all for changing that.”

Vilification of Bovine Growth Hormone is Udderly Unwarranted

Henry I. Miller | Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News | December 1, 2008

This column discusses the beneficial role of recombinant bovine somatotropin, or bovine growth hormone, in the U. S. dairy industy.  The use of the hormone stimulates milk production resulting in more efficient milk production.  He points to the many studies which show that  the milk or meat of treated cows is not affectd by this hormone.  These conclusions have been affirmed by many reviews including one by the Office of Technology Assessment in its May 1991 report, U. S. Dairy Industry at a Crossroad: Biotechnology and Policy Choice.