Call for Papers: Creating a Modern Technology Assessment Office in Congress

Medium

Over the past two years, following high-profile hearings with Mark Zuckerberg and other tech CEOs, there has been a resurgence of interest in addressing Congress’s knowledge gap on scientific and technical policy issues (a conversation which we’ve been proud to help lead). One solution that has gained momentum is restoring the Office of Technology Assessment, a science and technology think tank that served Congress from 1974 to 1995.

While there have been many efforts to revive OTA in the quarter century since its demise, these efforts are finally starting to win ground. This January, the GAO created the Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics (STAA) Team with a $15 million budget to tackle part of OTA’s original mission. The House fiscal year 2020 appropriations bill for the legislative branch included $6 million to restart the original OTA. And in November, the National Academy of Public Administration will be releasing a report commissioned by Congress on restoring its technology assessment function. It is clear that the debate has shifted from whether we should build a congressional technology assessment office, to how.

We recognize that the vehicle for this entity may take several forms, including reviving the original OTA, whose authorizing statute is still on the books; building it within another legislative branch agency, like the GAO’s STAA team is trying to do; building it in CRS; modifying OTA’s original statute; or passing legislation to create something entirely new.

With support from the Knight Foundation, Lincoln Network and Demand Progress are teaming up to put out a call for papers that will help address the research gap for thinking about various modernization challenges facing a new technology assessment office, recognizing that Congress now is a very different institution than it was in 1995.

How to apply

We are soliciting papers from experts in this community that are directly responsive to the practical challenges mentioned above, and written in a style that is accessible to policymakers and lay people. The details are as follows:

  • Authors will receive an honoraria ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 (more in special cases), based on scope of work and other relevant factors.
  • Drafts should be between 3,000–10,000 words. Shorter, digestible proposals will be prioritized above complex theoretical ones.
  • Proposals should be submitted by September 2, 2019. Final drafts must be completed before December 1, 2019.
  • Experts at Lincoln Network and Demand Progress will work with you to edit and publish the paper. We are open to consider co-branding with your institution.
  • By default papers will be published as a stand-alone product and disseminated to the Hill and other relevant stakeholders. We are open to publication through open access journals or magazines.
  • Author(s) must agree to license final work under Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0).

To apply, submit an abstract for your proposed paper to zach.graves@joinlincoln.org with the subject line “Call for Papers.” You may also suggest a few different ideas, and we will work with you to refine them, or we can make our list of topics of interest available to you.

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