Time to bring back the Office of Technology Assessment. The OTA was created in 1972 to provide Congress with an objective analysis of complex scientific and technological issues. But it was killed in ??95. Rush Holt, one of three physicists in Congress, sent a statement to the AAAS meeting in Chicago last week that said, ??When the OTA was disbanded, Congress gave itself a lobotomy.?? At the meeting, Lewis Branscomb, from Harvard??s Kennedy School of Government, offered reasons to restore the OTA:
??First obviously technical understanding is much more critical to public policy now than it was in ??94. Consider energy independence, global climate change, nuclear weapons proliferation, and mutation of viruses into global disease threats?ªall major issues facing us today. Second, the American economy is more dependent than ever on innovation to give us a competitive advantage. Given the global competition we face, it will require the U.S. to improve more rapidly its own research and innovation capability.??