As The Scientist has already noted (S. Sternberg, July 24, 1995, page 1), at the end of the fiscal year the 104th Congress eliminated the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), an agency that provided Congress and the attentive public with comprehensive analyses of issues related to science and technology.
Since its creation in 1972, OTA had produced nearly 800 reports covering broad topics in energy, materials, bioengineering, medicine, telecommunications and computers, space, agriculture, education, transportation, and other areas of applied science and engineering. All projects responded to requests from congressional committees, but finished reports were delivered simultaneously to Congress and to the public. Occasionally an OTA report had a clear, identifiable impact on a congressional decision or on a federal program-for example, the "Star Wars" controversy of the Reagan years. More often, the effects were more subtle and indirect, as Congress reacted to influential constituents or to the...
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