Office of Technology Assessment Archive
The Office of Technology Assessment occupied a unique role among Congressional agencies. Unlike the General Accounting Office, which is primarily concerned with evaluation of ongoing programs, and the Congressional Research Service, which provides rapid information on legislative topics, OTA provided a deeper, more comprehensive, and more technical level of analysis. Through eleven Congressional sessions, OTA became a key resource for Congressional members and staff confronting technological issues in crafting public policy. Its existence brought a healthy balance to the analytical resources available to the executive and legislative branches of government.
The agency’s legacy is found in the many items of legislation it influenced and in the channels of communication its staff helped foster between legislative policymakers and members of the scientific, technical, and business communities. The Office’s legacy is also found in its hundreds of publications, originally gathered in electronic form on a Princeton site (available here) and on the companion set of CD-ROMs, The OTA Legacy, 1972-1995.
The OTA Archive contains all the formally issued reports of the Office of Technology Assessment, as well as many background papers and contractor papers, over 100,000 pages of the best available analyses of the scientific and technical policy issues of the 1970s-1990s. In addition, the links below lead to information about how OTA prepared the reports, and to supplemental historical materials that illuminate the history and impact of the agency, which has been widely imitated internationally by governments interested in wise and informed stewardship of the public trust on issues with technical complexity. The OTA reports collected here are widely acknowledged to be nonpartisan, objective, and thorough. In many cases, they have also proven to be of enduring interest and relevance. Recent commentary about OTA, written since the Princeton site was created has been added below, as well as documents and testimony from a Congressional hearing on scientific and technical advice for the Congress held in 2006. By publishing its written legacy in electronic form, the Office of Technology Assessment hopes to preserve the investment made in its work for future users.