Restore Science & Tech Advice to Government
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Science and technology underpin many of the most important issues facing society today — and, therefore, many of the most critical legislative decisions before Congress. Legislators ought to consider the best evidence surrounding the issue they are legislating and adequately understand the technical implications of their decisions. This is not at all a partisan issue; it goes to core of our democracy.
The recent hearings concerning data privacy serve as an example. While it is impossible for policymakers to be expert in all areas they consider, there is clearly a material gap in technical literacy that needs to be filled in order for government to legislate effectively.
We've been here before:
Congress established the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) in 1972 to provide its members with objective and authoritative analysis of the complex scientific and technical issues of the late 20th century. (Wikipedia)
The OTA was shut down in 1995. The move was criticized at the time, including by Republican representative Amo Houghton, who commented that "we are cutting off one of the most important arms of Congress when we cut off unbiased knowledge about science and technology." (Wikipedia)
There is widespread support for the re-establishment of the OTA. The time is now for soon-to-be-departing Speaker Ryan to act.
Congress should establish a new, modern, non-partisan science and technology advisory apparatus at this most critical moment for democracy in the United States.
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