Measured Against Reality

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bring back the OTA

Are you sick of having a government that has no idea about technology or science? Do you want the people making policy decisions that affect the entire country to have some kind of clue about the issues they're legislating? Are you frustrated that there's no way to achieve these goals?

Well fret no longer, Mark Hoofnagle at Denialism Blog has an idea to help ameliorate this problem, bringing back the Office of Technology Assessment. Here's Mark's description of the OTA:

It used to be, for about 30 years (from 1974 to 1995), there was an office on the Hill, named the Office of Technology Assessment, which worked for the legislative branch and provided non-partisan scientific reports relevant to policy discussions. It was a critical office, one that through thorough and complete analysis of the scientific literature gave politicians common facts from which to decide policy debates. In 1994, with the new Republican congress, the office was eliminated for the sake of budget cuts, but the cost in terms of damage to the quality of scientific debate on policy has been incalculable.

This sounds like a critical organ of the legislative government, and if done right it would be. I agree that the OTA should be recreated, and I'll be contacting my representatives, if you care about this issue I recommend you do the same.

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  • It's nice that they mentioned that the republicans did it to cut the budget. But made no mention of Clinton signing the bill. Technology and science isn't democratic or republican, and we need to be careful to not assume that we can trust either party to truly have our interest.

    By Blogger austinwiltshire, at 6:58 PM, September 15, 2007  

  • A government that was limited to its proper role wouldn't need this.

    It is only because the government intervenes in so many areas of society that the politicization of science is even an issue.

    Rather than creating more bureaucracy, a better idea would be stopping government involvement in science or technology at all.

    By Anonymous Chris Papadopoulos, at 7:40 PM, September 15, 2007  

  • Chris, while you're technically correct and I do agree with you, it's a bit late for that at this point. Besides, the OTA isn't more bureaucracy, it's just an advisory agency with no actual power.

    By Blogger Stupac2, at 7:44 PM, September 15, 2007  

  • That's a long way to go to blame Clinton for this. Like Clinton is going to veto the budget to save a 30 million dollar congressional agency?

    It wasn't a law that was passed eliminating the OTA. It's funding was cut, that's all. And there is very little a president can do about individual items on the budget, which one hoeps will actually also make it easy to reinstate.

    By Blogger MarkH, at 5:36 AM, September 16, 2007  

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