The Federation of American Scientists has just launched a new collection of reports from the (currently) defunct Office of Technology Assessment.
The site, called the OTA Archive, indexes “over 720 reports and documents that were produced by OTA during its 23 year history.” In an effort somewhat similar to OpenCRS, the site features exhaustively researched reports prepared by a legislative support agency. In the case of the OTA, however, the reports haven’t been published since 1995, when the office stopped receiving funding.
As we’ve described before, and as described in great detail by FAS here, the OTA served an essential function that has only gained importance in the years since it lost support. Negotiating complex technological issues requires technological knowledge, and institutional support is a necessary component of adequate technological policy. CRS serves general policy needs, GAO presents oversight information, CBO does cost estimates, and Joint Tax gives tax assessments. Clearly there’s a need for continuing support of scientific and tecnological substance, and the $2.5 million appropriated in this year’s legislative branch approps bill is only a very small step in the right direction.
The FAS site presents a compelling argument, along with all the evidence necessary, to prod Congress to support a reinstated OTA.