Impact and Influence as the OTA Model Matured
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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.
KeywordsTechnology Assessment Pipeline Transportation Eminent Domain Senate Committee Pipeline Construction
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