September 26, 2023

Reps. Takano, Casten, Foster, Beyer Emphasize Need for Broader Technical Competence in Congress in Letter to House Admin Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Mark Takano (D-CA), Sean Casten (D-IL), Bill Foster (D-IL), and Don Beyer (D-VA) sent a letter to the Committee on House Administration Subcommittee on Modernization urging members to examine current gaps in science and technology (S&T) support that GAO provides, and explore alternative options beyond GAO for enhancing Congress’ S&T support and capabilities such as the Office of Technology Assessment. This letter comes in advance of the Subcommittee’s hearing on GAO Modernization.

“The speed and breadth of technological innovation have been astonishing, while creating both new opportunities and great dilemmas for the American public. Most recently, the notable success of ChatGPT has prompted a frenzy among lawmakers to address the promise and peril of artificial intelligence (AI). Crafting policy to address the impacts of AI technology and future developments in S&T will require a sophisticated anticipation and understanding of the technological landscape. Gaps in members’ technical expertise provide an easy opportunity for the corporate sector to fill the S&T support role – a role that we believe must remain unbiased, independent, and non-partisan,” wrote the lawmakers.

Earlier this year, Reps. Takano, Casten, Foster, and Beyer reintroduced the Office of Technology Assessment Improvement and Enhancement Act. This legislation would strengthen the existing authorization for the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) by structuring the office to be more responsive and accessible to Members’ needs.For more than twenty years, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), an independent, bipartisan agency set up to provide information on technology and its potential impacts, supported Congress in its lawmaking activities until it was defunded in 1995. As Congress considers regulation of technologies such as AI, social media, and cryptocurrency, it is increasingly important that Members of Congress have access to unbiased assessments of what is on the horizon.

The full letter can be found here.