More than a decade later, it seems that Gibbons has met the challenge. He presides over a $21 million budget and a 150-member staff of scientists and technologists who, with the help of outside experts, produce more than two dozen major reports each year, conduct hundreds of briefings for federal officials, and appear regularly before Congress and at scientific meetings and conferences. A recent report from the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government cites the agency's "solid reputation for in-depth analysis of major issues." The report says OTA's work is "widely used and appreciated," and suggests it collaborate more closely with the executive branch as well as with legislators.

The 62-year-old Gibbons already does those things, but quietly. He says he prefers having his staff testify, because "committees would rather hear it from the people who really know that subject, not some guy with window dressing." And he says...

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