Office of Technology Assessment is One Step Closer to Fruition with Introduction of New Legislation

Sep 25, 2019

by ASME.org

As ASME Capitol Update has previously reported, there has been a surge of support in Congress for the revival of an Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). This support continues as both the House and Senate recently released the Office of Technology Assessment Improvement and Enhancement Act. The bill, introduced by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Representatives Mark Takano (D-CA) and Bill Foster (D-IL), contains minor changes to the OTA’s current statute that will make the office more “accessible” and “responsive to Member’s needs.”

“A revised and reformed Office of Technology Assessment will play a crucial role in helping Congress tackle issues as diverse as data privacy, energy independence, and American innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Senator Tillis. “This bicameral, bipartisan legislation will give Congress the tools, resources, and policy expertise it needs to address the most pressing technological issues facing our country.”

“Until it was defunded in the mid-1990s, the Office of Technology Assessment served the critical function of providing member of Congress with non-partisan, expert advice on technology matters.  As Congress is faced with issues that are more and more technically complex—from cybersecurity to artificial intelligence to quantum computing—it is vital that OTA not only be reconstituted, but that it be reformed to meet the demands of the modern Senate. The Office of Technology Assessment Improvement and Enhancement Act does just that,” Senator Hirono said. “The bill would make the new Congressional Office of Technology more accessible and accountable to members of Congress than its predecessor; require that advice be provided in a timely manner; and ensure that the Office remain staffed with experts with current experience in relevant fields. These are the types of commonsense reforms that all members can (and should) get behind.”

OTA was established in 1972 to provide Congress with nonpartisan analyses of complex technology issues. The overall mission of the agency was to ensure lawmakers were provided with the information they required on burgeoning technology issues, as well as objective analyses of the technologies’ impacts on policy matters. From 1974 to 1995, when the agency was defunded, OTA was governed by a bipartisan Technology Assessment Board comprised of six Senators and six Representatives.

Along with becoming more accessible to Members, the new legislation calls for shorter turnaround times of requested research, and seeks to implement a Board, to be filled by bipartisan leadership, that is directed to submit regular reports in coordination with the Congressional Research Service and Government Accountability Office’s Science, Technology Assessment and Analytics team.

For previous ASME updates on OTA, click here: https://www.asme.org/government-relations/capitol-update/office-of-technology-assessment-is-one-step-closer-to-becoming-a-reality

https://www.asme.org/government-relations/Capitol-Update/House-Moves-to-Re-establish-Office-of-Technology-Assessment-After-24-Year-Hiatus