Bringing back the Office of Technology Assessment

… and name it for Ted Kennedy.

One of the uglier acts of organizational vandalism engaged in by the vertical barbarians who took over the House of Representatives in 1994 was the destruction of the Office of Technology Assessment, which used to give the Congress the same sort of expert, nonpartisan advice about technology issues that the CBO provides on budgetary matters. Gingrich’s wrecking crew hated OTA partly because it had blown the whistle on the technically absurd claims made on behalf of the “missile defense” scam, but mostly because they regarded it, with good reason, as the brainchild of Ted Kennedy and an employer of Kennedy supporters.

I had hoped that the Reconquista of 2006 might bring back OTA (and repair the damage done to the Congressional Research Service), but so far there’s been no progress, despite the desperate need for technology assessment in connection with, inter alia, health care and climate change.

However, I think it would be rather difficult at this juncture for the Republicans to make too much of a stink if the Senate Majority Leader proposed the establishment of the Edward M. Kennedy Office of Technology Assessment.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: