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Key Features of the Technology Assessment Act of 1972

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

Abstract

OTA was the first new legislative branch agency formed since creation of the General Accounting Office (GAO) in 1921. OTA’s organic legislation included unique organizational features, including a Technology Assessment Board (TAB), which was created as a bicameral and bipartisan governance structure with equal majority and minority representation of House and Senate members, and a Technology Assessment Advisory Council (TAAC), composed principally of inembers appointed from outside government, the role of which evolved as the agency grew and matured. Throughout OTA’s history TAB remained a central organizational element and was unique among the legislative analytical support agencies at the time—GAO, the Congressional Research Service, the Congressional Budget Office, and OTA. Over time TAB proved essential to aligning OTA’s program of assessments with the Congressional agenda.

Keywords

Large Hadron Collider Technology Assessment General Account Office Vice Chairman Congressional Committee 
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Notes

  1. 2.
    U.S. House of Representatives, “Panel on Science and Technology, Fifth Annual Meeting, Proceedings,” Committee on Science and Astronautics, 88th Congress, ist Session, Washington, DC: Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1963, pp. 37–38.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    For descriptions of the context of these issues and others of the time, see Robert M. Margolis and David H. Guston, “The Origins, Accomplishments, and Demise of the Office of Technology Assessment,” in Morgan, M. Granger and John M. Peha (eds) Science and Technology Advice for Congress, Washington, DC: RFF Press, 2003, pp. 53–76.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Vannevar Bush, Science, The Endless Frontier: A Report to the President on a Program for Postwar Scientific Research, Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, Washington, DC, July 1945.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    See Edward M. Kennedy, “Office of Technology Assessment for the Congress,” United States, Senate, Committee on Rules and Administration, Subcommittee on Computer Services, 92nd Congress, Second Session, Hearing Record on S. 2302 and H.R. 10243, March 2, 1972.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Office of Technology Assessment, The U.S. Textile and Apparel Industry: A Revolution in Progress, Special Report, NTIS order #PB87–196762, 1987.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Described in more detail in Peter D. Blair, “Technology Assessment: Current Trends and the Myth of a Formula,” First Meeting of the International Association of Technology Assessment and Forecasting Institutions, Bergen, Norway, May 2, 1994.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    This was known as “Rule 12” of TAB’s “rules of Procedure.” See Office of Technology Assessment. “Rules of Procedure, Technology Assessment Board,” (unpublished), 1973.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    For a more detailed account of these traditions, see 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, pp. 55–56.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    Typical of the criticism at the time was William Safire, “The Charles River Gang Returns,” New York Times, May 26, 1977. Within TAB itself Marjory Holt (R-MD) resigned as Vice Chair charging that these practices were injecting bias into the agency’s management and operations, especially in the direction of the current TAB Chair, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA).Google Scholar
  10. 15.
    Daniel S. Greenberg, “OTA Stressing Present, Rather than Future,” Science and Government Report, March 15, 1985, p. 6; see also “Congress and Technology: Facing Up to the Realities of Finiteness,” Government Executive, September, 1980, p. 1.Google Scholar
  11. 16.
    Chris Jenkins, “The Office of What?” San Diego Union, November 24, 1991, p. D-4.Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    David Dickson, “Technology Assessment Wins New Friends,” Nature, October 8, 1981, p. 417.Google Scholar
  13. 19.
    As examples see Robert R. Schaller, “The Congressional Office of Technology Assessment: Whatever Happened to the ‘Early Warning’ Concept of Technology Assessment,” George Mason University, The Institute of Public Policy, Working Paper No. 95:6, September 20, 1995, andGoogle Scholar
  14. Vary Coates,“Technology Forecasting and Assessment in the United States: Statistics and Prospects.” Futures Research Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 3, 1999, pp. 5–25.Google Scholar
  15. 20.
    David Burnham, “Little-Known Agency Draws Worldwide Interest,” New York Times, January 12, 1984, p. 10.Google Scholar

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© Peter D. Blair 2013

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  • Peter D. Blair

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