Scientific and Technical Advice to Congress

Interest in how policy makers, and Congress in particular, receive information about scientific matters continues to grow because of the importance of scientific and technical issues in determining national policy. The Marshall Institute agrees that a better understanding of how policy makers obtain information about matters of science is vital.

Recent calls for the re-creation of the disbanded congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) illustrate this concern. The Congress is said to lack a source of objective, qualified advice on science and technology matters. Many S&T policy analysts feel the solution is the creation of a “professional advisory body on scientific and technology matters” to serve Congress.

Michael Gough’s unique review of the origins and operations of the OTA, drawing on his experiences working inside the organization, offers an important perspective on the advantages and limits of the OTA structure. His report represents the starting point in the Marshall Institute’s examination of these questions as well.

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