Potential Revival of OTA

As a small agency within the Legislative Branch, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) originally provided the United States Congress with expert analyses of new technologies related to public policy, but OTA was defunded and ceased operations in 1995. A non-binding Resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives last week by Reps. Bill Foster (D-IL) and Bob Takano (D-CA) (press release), and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is expected to introduce a parallel bill in the Senate, expressing the non-binding “sense of Congress” that the agency and its funding should be revived. New coordinated efforts also are now underway among many groups to urge Congress to do exactly that.

Our colleagues at USACM have delivered letters of support for an inquiry into whether restoring OTA or its functions to the Legislative Branch would be advisable to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The House Subcommittee met recently and voted to advance legislation to fund the Legislative Branch for FY 2019 to the full House Appropriations Committee but without addressing this issue. The full Committee’s meeting, at which an amendment to provide pilot funding for an inquiry into OTA-like services could be offered, is expected later in May. The Senate’s parallel Subcommittee and full Appropriations Committee is expected to act later this spring or early summer on the Legislative Branch’s FY19 funding bill. OTA-related amendments could be offered at either of their related business meetings.

Resources

2005 Report by the Congressional Research Service
Recent testimony by Zachary Graves of Washington’s R Street Institute
Letter from USACM to leaders in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees

Public Policy Opportunity

AAAS Forum on Science & Technology Policy, Washington, D.C., June 21 – 22, 2018.
From AAAS: “The annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy is the conference for people interested in public policy issues facing the science, engineering, and higher education communities. Since 1976, it has been the place where insiders go to learn what is happening and what is likely to happen in the coming year on the federal budget and the growing number of policy issues that affect researchers and their institutions.”

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