Reps. Takano and Foster, Sens. Hirono and Tillis introduce the Office of Technology Assessment Improvement and Enhancement Act

On September 19, 2019, “Reps. Mark Takano (D-CA) and Bill Foster (D-IL) and Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Office of Technology Assessment Improvement and Enhancement Act to introduce enhancements to the existing Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) statute (2 US Code §472) to make improvements to the OTA by making it more accessible and responsive to Members’ needs.”

According to their press release, the legislation would amend the statute of the defunct agency to revive it and:

Provide expertise with quicker turnaround times by:
—adding language to emphasize that information should be provided as expeditiously, effectively, and efficiently as possible;
—adding Congressional Research Service-style deliverables to the Office’s function and duties such as providing briefings, informal conversations, and technical assistance to Members on science and technology issues without the need for Board review, as well as objective policy options when requested; and
—requiring preliminary findings of ongoing technology assessments in addition to completed analyses.

Serve all Members of Congress by:
—enabling any Member to request a technology assessment to be considered by the Technology Assessment Board;
—updating Board appointment so that members are appointed by bipartisan party leadership in each chamber;
—directing the Office to be as open and transparent with Members about the request review process as possible; and
—requiring at least one annual Member Day.

Enhance transparency by:
—updating existing language to require final reports of assessments to be made publicly available whenever possible; and
—requiring an annual report on requests received, assessments completed and ongoing, and other activities.

Maintain the Office’s forward-looking and rigorous approach by:
—introducing a rotator program to hire experts from academia and industry modeled after the rotator program at the National Science Foundation.

Complement existing Leg Branch agencies including GAO’s new Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics team by:
—requiring coordination with CRS and GAO to avoid duplication or overlapping activities.

The legislation should be available —shortly if not already— on Congress.gov.

For background on OTA and Congress’ limited tech capacity see here and here.

Filed Under:
Topics: Reform Efforts
Kevin Kosar
Kevin Kosar is vice president of policy for the R Street Institute, where he oversees all of the institute’s research across its commercial freedom, c...