Today the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) launched the Office of Technology Assessment Archive, http://fas.org/ota. The site allows the public to access over 720 reports and documents produced by OTA during its 23 year history, including many that have not been available to the public previously. OTA served as an independent branch of the U.S. Congress that provided nonpartisan science and technology advice from 1972 until it was defunded and forced to close in 1995.
The site also features a new video interview with Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ), who has been spearheading the effort on Capitol Hill to revive OTA. According to Rep. Holt, “if OTA were here, doing this kind of work, we would have better legislation for school safety, chemical exposure, grain dust explosions, the R&D tax credit, on and on.” He goes on to describe some current policy issues that OTA could address and explains why Congress should bring back OTA.
“The OTA was an invaluable resource that informed Congress about an incredibly broad range of science and technology issues,” said Henry Kelly, President of the Federation of American Scientists and a former OTA staff member. “Numerous reports, on subjects such as transportation, energy, health care, and information technology remain relevant, more than 10 years after OTA issued its final report.”
“OTA produced the first report raising the possibility of genetic discrimination in the workplace almost 17 years before the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act was passed,” according to Michael Stebbins, Director of Biology Policy at FAS. “That kind of foresight into major policy issues is sorely missed in Washington today.”
The Archive will track efforts to bring back OTA and will also highlight items not previously available to the public in a “Document of the Day” feature. The website also includes a new search engine that allows users to quickly and easily find specific content in OTA reports.