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Congress needs the OTA

April 8, 2010

Most of the major challenges now facing the nation revolve around science.  Of the 535 members of Congress, how many do you suppose are scientists and engineers?  Here's the answer: three physicists, one chemist, six engineers including a biomedical engineer, and one microbiologist. 


How many do you suppose are lawyers, who often avoided science classes like the plague?  225.  It's little wonder we see more rhetoric than facts. 


It would be less of a problem if Congress had a science advisory body that gave it quality, non-partisan advice.  Advice that could save billions by preventing costly policy or spending errors that are not informed by the best available science.  They used to, and it was called the Office of Technology Assessment.  But they closed that 15 years ago to save a relative pittance. 


Since then, the science-based challenges facing the nation have multiplied.  Congressional staffers need access to timely and top quality science advice on the issues before their Members.  Today, there are at least two efforts that we are aware of to revive Congress's science and technology advisory body. 


Working with Science Debate co-chair and U.S. Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ), the Union of Concerned Scientists has organized a letter from scientists supporting the revival of the OTA that is open for signature.


If you find our efforts helpful, contribute.