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Impact and Influence as the OTA Model Matured

  • Peter D. Blair
Chapter
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Part of the Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy book series (STIPOL)

Abstract

OTA’s influence was rarely the sole result of the delivery of an assessment report to Congress. As OTA matured organizationally, the agency’s advice was viewed increasingly as independent and objective, as it was intended to be. While it was often viewed as first among equals regarding unbiased science and technology policy advice to Congress, it often remained but one influence on congressional deliberation. Many observers characterize the principal uses of OTA reports as either “analytical” or “rhetorical.” In the former case the use was to help inform the debate or “shed light on a poorly understood problem” and in the latter case the use was to “build a stronger case for existing policy preferences.” Since OTA did not issue policy recommendations, rhetorical use sometimes was exercised on both sides of a debate. During the late 1970s and 1980s, OTA’s respect and influence grew considerably in Congress and in the science and technology community, delivering assessments on a wide range of topics including health, energy, defense, space, information technology, environment, and many other areas.

Keywords

Technology Assessment Pipeline Transportation Eminent Domain Senate Committee Pipeline Construction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Bruce Bimber, The Politics of Expertise in Congress: The Rise and Fall of the Office of Technology Assessment, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1996, p. 36.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Office of Technology Assessment, Taggants in Explosives, NTIS order #PB80–192719, April, 1980.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Richard E. Rowberg, “The Office of Technology Assessment and Congressional Policymaking,” Washington, DC: University of North Texas Digital Library, September, 1981, p. 10.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Office of Technology Assessment, Acid Rain and Transported Air Pollutants: Implications for Public Policy, NTIS order #PB84–222967, 1984.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    For example, see George E. Brown, “In Memoriam: The Office of Technology Assessment, 1972–95,” Congressional Record, U.S. House of Representatives, Extension of Remarks, September 28, 1995:Google Scholar
  6. Amo Houghton, “In Memoriam: The Office of Technology Assessment, 1972–1995,” Congressional Record, U.S. House of Representatives, Extension of Remarks, September 28, 1995, pp. E1869–1870;Google Scholar
  7. Roger C. Herdman and James E. Jensen, “The OTA Story: The Agency Perspective,” Technological Forecasting e’r Social Change, Vol. 54, Nos. 2–3, 1997, pp. 131–144; Robert M. Margolis and David H. Guston, “The Origins, Accomplishments, and Demise of the Office of Technology Assessment,” in Morgan A and Peha A(eds) Science and Technology Advice for Congress, Washington, DC: RFF Press, pp. 53–76;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. and Rush Holt, “Op-Ed: Reversing the Congressional Science Lobotomy,” Wired, April 29, 2009.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    John H. Gibbons, “Technology Assessment Comes of Age,” Environment, Vol. 25, No. 1, January/February, 1983, pp. 28–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ibid., p. 31, and Office of Technology Assessment, MX Missile Basing, NTIS order #PB82–108077, September, 1981.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    See Andrew Lawler, “NRC Pledges Faster Delivery on Reports to Government,” Science, Vol. 270, October 6, 1995, pp. 22–23.Google Scholar

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© Peter D. Blair 2013

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  • Peter D. Blair

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