Bring back the Office of Technology Assessment

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From the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s Congress had something called the Office of Technology Assessment.

The congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) closed its doors September 29, 1995. For 23 years, the nonpartisan analytical agency assisted Congress with the complex and highly technical issues that increasingly affect our society. (source)

OTA issued reports on topics ranging from addiction, aging, and agricultural technology to waste management, and women's health (see the full list at http://www.princeton.edu/~ota/ns20/topic_f.html). Those of you who've been around for awhile will recognize 2005 as the first year of the “Gingrich revolution.” The Republicans in charge of Congress apparently decided that they didn't need non-partisan advice on complicated technical issues.

Wrong! As I've written elsewhere, “Science can describe the outcomes associated with different policy choices, but the choice between those outcomes is determined by what we value” (source). But to make the right policy choices, policy makers need to know the consequences of their policy choices.

Mark Hoofnagle started a campaign a little over a week ago to bring back the OTA. When I checked this morning I found links to 24 blogs that have joined the campaign. I may be slow on the uptake, but I'm in now. Expect posts periodically describing some of OTA's past accomplishments to provide ammunition for the campaign.

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I meant to mention this a long time ago, but as you can see, I haven't made any entries for awhile. Life's been a little crazy. In a speech to the Carnegie Institution for Science on the 50th anniversary of... Read More

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