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Bring Back OTA--Congress' Own Think Tank

Scientists cheered in 1972 when Congress created the Office of Technology Assessment, a PhD-laden think tank that was dedicated to providing policy analyses and technical evaluations for the House and Senate. They wept in 1995, when, in a burst of political pique and boastful penny-pinching, Newt Gingrich and his Republican Revolution abolished OTA. Resuscitation efforts started then, and continue--in futility. Thus, in the current Congress, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), one of the few scientists i

Daniel Greenberg

Scientists cheered in 1972 when Congress created the Office of Technology Assessment, a PhD-laden think tank that was dedicated to providing policy analyses and technical evaluations for the House and Senate. They wept in 1995, when, in a burst of political pique and boastful penny-pinching, Newt Gingrich and his Republican Revolution abolished OTA.

Resuscitation efforts started then, and continue--in futility. Thus, in the current Congress, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), one of the few scientists in Congress, reintroduced the Office of Technology Reestablishment Act. Like its predecessors, the bill disappeared into the black hole of legislative losers, never heard of again. In today's political climate, with former Speaker Gingrich's ideological kinsmen still ascendant, the restoration movement is becalmed. All the more reason to keep alive fading memories of OTA's achievements while recognizing the failings that contributed to its demise--and waiting hopefully for a swing of the political pendulum.

By many measures,...

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