Re-Open the OTA (with citizen input) – Sign the Petition!

I’d like your thoughts on something.

Quick framework: Before Newt Gingrich shut it down in the ’90s, the Office of Technology Assessment was a Congressional support office. It provided nonpartisan, science and technology policy advice to Congress. Sounds dry but it’s something Congress ought to have when deciding upon issues such as stem cell research, global warming, alternative power, genetically engineered foods, national infrastructure–our future.

Our country needs and deserves an OTA. But not the OTA of the 90s that took two years to put together well-researched and highly respected reports on science issues…issues Congress had pretty much decided upon on already. We need a better, faster, visionary OTA that values the collective opinions of today’s citizens to prepare our country for future science and technology issues.

Other countries opened an OTA with a twist: public participation. Denmark, for example, employs a number of ways, including consensus conferences, to fold the public into critical discussions of science and technology policy. More can be done. More needs to be done. And, the Executive Branch is already making advances in this regard. The Legislative Branch (Congress) lags far behind.

Shifting the culture of science policy–providing sound science advice to Congress and engaging the public in important discussions–can only happen with a massive, groundswell of support from the public.

So let me know what you think. I can’t think of a reason NOT to push for the reopening of a “new” OTA. Good idea? Waste of time? Are there other ways to accomplish this goal? How can we unite the nation’s public and push this through as a team? Join the OTA Facebook Task Force !

If you think it’s the start of a good idea, I also encourage you to sign this petition and post your comments.

Let’s get this party started!