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Office of Technology Assessment (OTA)
The Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) closed on September 29, 1995. During its 23-year history, OTA provided Congressional members and committees with analyses of the scientific and technological issues that were increasingly relevant to public policy and legislative action. The agency's legacy is found in the many items of legislation it influenced and in the channels of communication its staff helped foster between legislative policymakers and members of the scientific, technical, and business communities. The Office's legacy is also found in its hundreds of publications, gathered for the first time in electronic form on the set of 5 CD-ROMs: The OTA Legacy, 1972-1995. This Web site presents the complete contents of the five CD-ROMs with additional enhancements and features that facilitate access and retrieval.
Quarterly Report to the Technology Assessment Board, January 1 - March 31, 1980
This is a quarterly report detailing the budget and progress of the Office of Technology Assessment.
Research Assistants Handbook
This manual was designed to guide research assistants new to the OTA. It was used alongside the OTA Employee Handbook and other introductory materials from the OTA Information Center. It covers life at OTA, basics about projects, office equipment and resources, contractors, and an introduction to the DC area. This is not an official OTA document; it was an unpublished office manual.
RA (Research Assistants) Handbook, June 1992
This handbook was created by the staff of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) for new Research Assistants, to introduce them to OTA policy and provide guidelines for Research Assistant activities.
Climate Treaties and Models: Issues in the International Management of Climate Change
This paper seeks to place the issue of climate change within an international context. Specifically, it addresses the feasibility of forging treaty agreements among countries to achieve significant worldwide reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases.
Industrial Energy Use
An assessment by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) on the "prospects for energy efficiency in the U.S. industrial sector, the technologies available to improve industrial energy efficiency, and the effect of various legislative policies on stimulating increased efficiency" (p. iii).
Habitability of the Love Canal Area: An Analysis of the Technical Basis for the Decision of the Habitability of the Emergency Declaration Area: A Technical Memorandum
A case study by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) that examines "the technical basis for, and validity of, the habitability decision for the emergency declaration area near Love Canal" (p. iii).
Drugs in Livestock Feed: Volume 1: Technical Report
A report by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) over the use of drugs in livestock feed
An Assessment of Oil Shale Technologies
A study by the Office of Technology Assessment that examines the oil shale resources of the Western United States that could contribute to the liquid fuel supply of the United States.
Selected Topics in Federal Health Statistics
A study by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) that looks at how information about Federal health programs is collected. Part 1 "inventories the different health data collection systems administered by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and other Federal agencies" and Part 2 "is a directory of statutory provisions that govern the collection of health data by the Public Health Service and the Health Care Financing Administration" (p. iii).
Conservation and Solar Energy Programs of the Department of Energy: A Critique
A study by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) that "evaluates the progress and direction of a number of conservation and solar energy programs, in order to provide an overview of the balance and long-range contribution of these efforts, and to discover if the programs are coherently linked to goals set by Congress and the administration" (p. iii).
Technology and Aging in America
A report by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) that "discusses five chronic conditions that severely affect older persons-osteoarthritis, dementia, osteoporosis, hearing impairments, and urinary incontinence" (p. iii).
Review of Postal Automation Strategy: A Technical and Decision Analysis
A memorandum by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) that reviews the "United States Postal Service (USPS) decision to utilizes single-line optical character readers (OCRs) instead of multi-line OCRs" and conducts "a comparative technical and economic analysis of the two technologies in the context of the overall postal automation program" (Foreward).
Federal government information technology: Electronic Record Systems and Individual Privacy
This report addresses four major areas: 1) technological developments relevant to government record systems; 2) current and prospective Federal agency use of electronic record systems; 3) the interaction of technology and public law relevant to protecting privacy; and 4) possible policy actions that warrant congressional attention, including amendment of existing laws such as the Privacy Act of 1974 and establishment of new mechanisms such as a Data Protection Board or Privacy Protection Commission.
Adolescent Health, Volume 3: Crosscutting Issues in the Delivery of Health and Related Services
OTA’s report responds to the request of numerous Members of Congress to review the physical, emotional, and behavioral health status of contemporary American adolescents, including adolescents in groups who might be more likely to be in special need of health-related interventions: adolescents living in poverty, adolescents from racial and ethnic minority groups, Native American adolescents, and adolescents in rural areas.
Agricultural Commodities as Industrial Raw Materials
This report examines potential new crops and traditional crops for industrial uses including replacements for petroleum and imported strategic materials; replacements for imported newsprint, wood rosins, rubbers, and oils; and degradable plastics. This report finds that, in the absence of additional and more comprehensive policies, developing industrial uses for agricultural commodities alone is unlikely to revitalize rural economies and solve the problems of American agriculture.
Health Insurance: The Hawaii Experience
This paper provides a detailed look at the State that is often considered a model for what States can do to help provide universal or near universal health insurance coverage for their residents. The paper discusses the history of health insurance provision in Hawaii, emphasizing two relatively recent State insurance laws: 1) the 1974 law that required employers to offer coverage to most of their employees, and 2) the 1989 law that provided a State subsidy for coverage of those individuals who fell in the gap between employment-based coverage and Medicaid coverage. The paper addresses the difficulties faced in evaluating the impact of Hawaii’s various attempts to provide coverage and access, and speaks to whether all or parts of Hawaii’s experience can be transferred to other States or to the Nation as a whole.
International Cooperation and Competition in Civilian Space Activities
The findings of an assessment by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) on "international cooperation and competition in civilian space activities" (p. iii).
Energy Use and the U.S. Economy
The background paper extends the analysis of energy use into new areas by explicitly looking at how energy use has changed with the expansion of the service sector, the explosion of international trade, and greater complexity of the U.S. economy as the structure of businesses changed in response to new technologies and competitive challenges. The increasing sophistication of the U.S. economy means that the role of energy is less likely to be directly identified and is instead more likely to be an indirect factor that was added many steps before in the complex network that connects producer to consumer. This report explicitly separates direct from indirect energy use.
Are we cleaning up?: 10 Superfund case studies: a special report of OTA's assessment on Superfund implementation
This special report presents 10 case studies of recent Superfund decisions at sites which OTA believes, from surveying over 100 recent cleanup decisions, to be representative of a broad range of contamination problems and cleanup technologies.
Helping America Compete: The Role of Federal Scientific and Technical Information
This Special Report assesses how Federal scientific and technical information (STI) can contribute to a more competitive America and what actions are needed to realize this potential. The report was prepared in response to a request from the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Construction and materials research and development for the nation's public works
A report on the nation’s infrastructure that is the physical framework that supports and sustains virtually all domestic economic activity; it is essential to maintaining international competitiveness as well.
From pollution to prevention: a progress report on waste reduction
The report examines the effectiveness of the limited Federal actions taken so far and summarizes what industry and State and local governments have done to implement waste reduction. These programs are encouraging, and they help us understand what congressional policy options might accomplish, This special report discusses in greater detail several options that first appeared in Serious Reduction of Hazardous Waste.
Civilian Space Policy and Applications
A report by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) that evaluates "the present states and possible future directions of space applications technologies in the civilian sector" and focuses on the technologies of "satellite communications, land remote sensing, materials processing in space, and space transportation" (p. iii).
Technology and Oceanography: An Assessment of Federal Technologies for Oceanographic Research and Monitoring
A report by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) that "describes the status of technologies in use today, such as research ships, submersibles, buoy systems, aircraft, and satellites" (Foreward).
Technology and Steel Industry Competitiveness
A report by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) that examines the U.S. steel industry, specifically the "nontechnological factors that shape the environment in which new technology is created and adopted" (p. iii).
Assessment of Technologies for Determining Cancer Risks From the Environment
A report by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) that "discusses the strengths and weaknesses of data sources used for determining trends in cancer occurrence and mortality, and reviews estimates of the contribution of various factors-behaviors and exposures-associated with cancer in this country" (p. iii).
Automated Guideway Transit: An Assessment of PRT and Other New Systems
A report by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) assessing the Automated Guideway Transit Systems, with both detailed findings and summaries.
Application of Solar Technology to Today's Energy Needs - Volume 1
A report by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) reviewing "a range of solar energy systems designed to produce thermal and electrical energy directly from sunlight" and examining this technology, identifying "the circumstances under which such systems could be economically attractive" (p. iii).
Applications of R&D in the Civil Sector: The Opportunity Provided by the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1977
An assessment by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) of the national research and development (R&D) activities with the intent of "understanding...how to maximize the beneficial impacts of our total R&D enterprise" (p. iii).
Establishing a 200-Mile Fisheries Zone
A report by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) covering the the "major problems and opportunities which may occur because of the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976" (Preface).
Nuclear Proliferation and Safeguards
A study by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) that looks at nuclear proliferation and "seeks to facilitate an understanding of the problem and its implications, in terms of both a comprehensive overview and a detailed indepth analysis of key elements" (p. 7).
Organizing and Financing Basic Research to Increase Food Production
A report prepared by the Office of Technology Assessment analyzing" alternatives for organizing and financing basic research to increase food production" (Preface).
Perspectives on Federal Retail Food Grading
A report by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) that "evaluates changes and modifications in the present grading system which would facilitate consumer choices, examines the major issues associated with these changes, and outlines alternative approaches to implementing these changes" (p. ii).
State of the States on Brownfields: Programs for Cleanup and Reuse of Contaminated Sites
This paper first presents an overview of the nature and extent of the brownfields problem and discusses several key issues relating to their cleanup and redevelopment. Next, it examines three primary state approaches for addressing brownfields, with a particular focus on state voluntary cleanup programs. It then presents more detailed information on the voluntary programs in Minnesota, California, and Ohio.
Power Sources for Remote Arctic Applications
This background paper concludes that continued use of the radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) at Burnt Mountain entails low risk for the safety of maintenance workers and local populations and for the environment.
Reducing the Costs of Collecting Meteorological Data: A Workshop
A report on information about the Earth obtained from satellite systems assists the National Weather Service (NWS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in conducting its legislatively mandated programs to provide weather and flood forecasts and warnings for the American public, improve public safety, and provide weather information for commerce and science.
A History of the Department of Defense Federally Funded Research and Development Centers
The focus of this paper is the history of Department of Defense (DoD) Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) over the past 50 years, which forms part of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) study of defense modeling and simulation.
Nuclear Proliferation and Safeguards: Appendix Volume II, Part Two
The focus of this report is the construction of nuclear power plants abroad, especially the problem of assuring that none of the plutonium produced in these plants is diverted for use in weapons.
The CDC's Case Definition of AIDS: Implications of Proposed Revisions
This background paper examines the epidemiologic evidence used by the CDC in deciding to revise the AIDS case definition and the impact the proposed definition will have on surveillance. The paper also explores the logistical consequences and other implications of the revised definition, including its impact on Social Security disability determinations.
An Inconsistent Picture: A Compilation of Analyses of Economic Impacts of Competing Approaches to Health Care Reform by Experts and Stakeholders
This report reviews numerous analyses of the economic impacts of the major approaches to health care reform addressed in this Report-Single Payer, Play-or-Pay, Individual Vouchers or Tax Credits, and Managed Competition and identifies some of the key issues and significant assumptions behind the estimates provided in these analyses.
Moving Ahead: 1991 Surface Transportation Legislation
This report discusses the major issues surrounding the reauthorization of highway and transit legislation is laid out and four illustrative types of surface transportation programs are presented in chapters 1 and 2. Chapter 3 is devoted to the discussion of motor carrier programs, with special attention to issues related to longer combination trucks.
Building Future Security: Strategies for Restructuring the Defense Technology and Industrial Base
This report elaborates on the findings of the earlier OTA publications and examines in greater detail the specific policy choices involved in restructuring the defense technology and industrial base (DTIB) over the next decade.
Disposal of Chemical Weapons: Alternative Technologies
This background paper briefly describes the Army’s chemical weapons destruction program, discusses the factors that could affect a decision to develop alternatives, discusses the alternatives, and illustrates the difficulty of gaining public acceptance of complex technical systems.
The Big Picture: HDTV and High-Resolution Systems
A report on High Definition Television (HDTV. During 1989, HDTV moved from obscurity to center stage in the ongoing debate over the role of the Federal Government in U.S. industrial competitiveness. HDTV and related High-Resolution System (HRS) technologies in the computer and communications sectors may significantly impact U.S. electronics manufacturing, accelerate fundamental restructuring of the U.S. communications infrastructure, and provide a host of valuable services.
Physical Vulnerability of Electric Systems to Natural Disasters and Sabotage
This report offers an analysis of the vulnerability of electric power system specific equipment which is included in a separate appendix that is under classification review by the Department of Energy. This appendix will be made available only under appropriate safeguards by the Department of Energy.
Plague of Locusts: Special Report
This is OTA’S fifth report on U.S. foreign aid and African agriculture and our most detailed look at one specific problem. The report provides a background on the unusual nature of grasshopper and locust problems, examine t e implications this has for the way problems are treated, then consider how U.S. contributions to the bilateral and multilateral control effort might be improved.
Integrated renewable resource management for U.S. insular areas
The report on renewable resource development can help foster self-sufficiency, but certain approaches are not compatible with sustained development (e. g., harvesting resources until long-term productivity is lost, resources are depleted, or the environment is degraded). Similarly, policies, programs, and projects that seriously conflict with local cultures and customs are likely to be counterproductive.
Grassroots Development: The African Development Foundation
This is OTA’S third report on U.S. foreign aid and African agriculture and the most comprehensive look at a single program. It complements a larger, more general work in press on enhancing agriculture in Africa and its already-published companion report on the Sahel Development Program. The House Foreign Affairs Committee, its Subcommittee on Africa, and the House Select Committee on Hunger requested this study. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on African Affairs, endorsed their request.
Paying the Bill: Manufacturing and America's Trade Deficit
This special report analyzes the causes of the deterioration in America’s trade performance and examines the importance of U.S. manufacturing in helping the nation improve its position in international trade. The report was requested by Senator John Heinz as part of an assessment of technology, innovation and U.S. trade requested by the Senate Committee on Finance; the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; and the House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs. A final report will be published in 1989.