Friday, July 9, 2010

Very Exciting News on the OTA Front

I just received an email from UCS updating me to a significant development in the movement to restore the Office of Technology Assessment:
One Small Step for the OTA, One Giant Leap for Science 
Bringing the facts back to Congress 
Dear James,

I’m excited to share with you a giant leap forward in our effort to bring independent science and technology advice back to Congress.
Last week, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), chair of the subcommittee that controls funding for the legislative branch, proposed a spending bill that will ask the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to study how to establish a “congressional technology assessment group” through an independent, bipartisan structure that invlolves both the House and Senate. Her draft budget got the subcommittee’s bipartisan approval.
Congress has been without an independent source of science and technological advice since 1995 when the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) was dismantled. If the budget is passed and signed into law, the NAS will come up with a plan to revive the OTA or create a similar resource, ensuring that Congress is able to make fully informed decisions and doesn’t waste billions of taxpayer dollars on unproven technology.
This achievement is only possible because you and thousands of other UCS supporters weighed in with members of Congress in many creative ways. Representative Wasserman Schultz repeatedly told us that members of Congress needed to hear from citizens in their districts about the importance of independent science advice. People like you who sent letters, made phone calls, signed letters, or delivered mousepads to district office featuring an OTA-related cartoon were key to bringing this issue to the forefront.
While this is an essential first step, we must ensure that the NAS study is comprehensive and completed in a timely manner. We will continue to monitor the legislative appropriations bill as it moves through Congress and as the NAS proceeds with its study. We will ask you to weigh in when your voice will be most crucial and keep you up to date on any major developments.
You can read our recommendations on modernizing and reestablishing the OTA here. Thank you again for your help on this issue.
Michael Halpern
National Field Organizer
UCS Scientific Integrity Program

Thank you so much Debbie and keep up the good work (I was totally rooting for you on the Meet the Press debating Carly Fiorina). It is very exciting also to note that the Appropriations Legislative Subcommitte tackled this as a bipartisan effort, giving it a good chance of going far out beyond the subcommittee world. I look forward to the NAS getting the study done quickly, getting the OTA up and running again, and to once again having well-informed legislators. Cheers!

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