Flag-waving Republican, Newt Gingrich, dismantled the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (science policy advisers to Congress) as a symbol of his believe in the Contract with America back in the 90s. Bad move. And a little silly to slash a lean office with a modest budget that produced hundreds of still-valued reports on hot science policy topics. Plus Newt loves science. He really does. He thought Congress didn’t need the OTA because they could just pick up the phone and call scientists and engineers for advice. Really?
It’s been 15 years, give or take, and we witnessed the ugly side of science when it’s been politically manipulated. Congress needed the OTA then and they surely need it now. Obama and the majority of the Executive Branch understand the value of sound science policy advice, particularly when it takes into account public input for determining things like Risk Assessment. The Legislative Branch, however, is about six steps behind.
The good news is that momentum is building on the streets to reopen the OTA and add a mechanism for public participation. Even Republicans are embracing this movement. I’ve counted three so far but it wasn’t long ago the sum would have been zero:
It’s a start.
PS: Bart recently posted this example of why he supports the reopening of the OTA.