The US President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology is composed of accomplished individuals from academia and industry who volunteer to help the president. Cabinet secretaries and other federal officials who need outside expertise also use advisory committees. Congress, however, has no such formal advisory bodies.
Instead, lawmakers and their staff have to feverishly track down experts, hoping they will be available, understand policy matters, and can communicate effectively to policymakers — a tall order. As a result, bills are not always as scientifically informed as they could be. That’s why the Federation of American Scientists, of which I am president, is working with interested lawmakers on a pilot programme to help them to establish their own science and technology advisory councils.