Over the next few weeks, we here at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies will be sharing 20 interesting facts and anecdotes that we've accumulated over the past two decades. We look forward to another 20 years serving our country through providing guidance in the world of science and technology policy and innovation. Please enjoy one of our 20 interesting facts today:
The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies was Created as a Public, Non-Governmental, Independent Replacement for the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA)
OTA was abolished in 1994 and since then, the Potomac Institute has been the “go-to” place for independent, objective, and informed assessment of science and technology advancement. We have strongly advocated the development of policy and law based on a solid understanding of the relevant science and technology.
Clearly, the Institute has not replaced the OTA, but we have addressed some of the science and technology issues that an OTA would have been asked to look at. The Institute has also conducted a significant number of technology assessments, roadmaps, and reviews for various parts of the US Government. We hope that our contributions have made a difference. Recently there have been rumblings on Capitol Hill that the principle to which we have remained committed, that public policy must be based on a clear understanding of the science that is germane to the issue, has true merit. Some have even voiced the need to recreate the OTA. In 2009, the US Congress asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to create a small cell of scientists who could perform technology assessments for the US Government. This small group has been formed and is now starting to review a number of technologies that are of critical interest to the US.
The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies assisted the GAO in this effort. We reviewed a couple of their first technology assessments and have provided suggestions and support. Our goal was to help the GAO mature its process and capability to assess technology in a realistic fashion that will further the technology development process of the US Government. It wasn’t easy, and may not fully address the country’s needs for science and technology assessment or science and technology-based policy. But it is a start, and one that is long overdue.