Office of Technology Assessment Act
Public Law 92-484
92d Congress, H.R. 10243
October 13, 1972
To establish an Office of Technology Assessment for the Congress as an aid in the identification and consideration of existing and probable impacts of technological application; to amend the National Science Foundation Act of 1950; and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may be cited as the Technology Assessment Act of 1972.
FINDINGS AND DECLARATION OF PURPOSE
SEC. 2. The Congress hereby finds and declares that:
(a) As technology continues to change and expand rapidly, its applications are
1. large and growing in scale; and
2. increasingly extensive, pervasive, and critical in their impact, beneficial and adverse, on the natural and social environment.
(b)Therefore, it is essential that, to the fullest extent possible, the consequences of technological applications be anticipated, understood, and considered in determination of public policy on existing and emerging national problems.
(c) The Congress further finds that:
1.the Federal agencies presently responsible directly to the Congress are not designed to provide the legislative branch with adequate and timely information, independently developed, relating to the potential impact of technological applications, and
2.the present mechanisms of the Congress do not and are not designed to provide the legislative branch with such information.
(d) Accordingly, it is necessary for the Congress to
1. equip itself with new and effective means for securing competent, unbiased information concerning the physical, biological, economic, social, and political effects of such applications; and
2. utilize this information, whenever appropriate, as one factor in the legislative assessment of matters pending before the Congress, particularly in those instances where the Federal Government may be called upon to consider support for, or management or regulation of, technological applications.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT
SEC. 3. (a) In accordance with the findings and declaration of purpose in section 2, there is hereby created the Office of Technology Assessment (hereinafter referred to as the Office) which shall be within and responsible to the legislative branch of the Government.
(b) The Office shall consist of a Technology Assessment Board (hereinafter referred to as the Board) which shall formulate and promulgate the policies of the Office, and a Director who shall carry out such policies and administer the operations of the Office.
(c) The basic function of the Office shall be to provide early indications of the probable beneficial and adverse impacts of the applications of technology and to develop other coordinate information which may assist the Congress. In carrying out such function, the Office shall:
1. identify existing or probable impacts of technology or technological programs;
2.where possible, ascertain cause-and-effect relationships;
3.identify alternative technological methods of implementing specific programs;
4.identify alternative programs for achieving requisite goals;
5. make estimates and comparisons of the impacts of alternative methods and programs;
6.present findings of completed analyses to the appropriate legislative authorities;
7. identify areas where additional research or data collection is required to provide adequate support for the assessments and estimates described in paragraph (1) through (5) of this subsection; and
8. undertake such additional associated activities as the appropriate authorities specified under subsection (d) may direct.
(d) Assessment activities undertaken by the Office may be initiated upon the request of:
1. the chairman of any standing, special, or select committee of either House of the Congress, or of any joint committee of the Congress, acting for himself or at the request of the ranking minority member or a majority of the committee members;
2.the Board; or
3.the Director, in consultation with the Board.
(e) Assessments made by the Office, including information, surveys, studies, reports, and findings related thereto, shall be made available to the initiating committee or other appropriate committees of the Congress. In addition, any such information, surveys, studies, reports, and findings produced by the Office may be made available to the public except where
1.to do so would violate security statutes; or
2.the Board considers it necessary or advisable to withhold such information in accordance with one or more of the numbered paragraphs in section 552(b) of title 5, United States Code.
TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT BOARD
SEC. 4. (a) The Board shall consist of thirteen members as follows:
1.six Members of the Senate, appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate, three from the majority party and three from the minority party;
2.six Members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, three from the majority party and three from the minority party; and
3.the Director, who shall not be a voting member.
(b) Vacancies in the membership of the Board shall not affect the power of the remaining members to execute the functions of the Board and shall be filled in the same manner as in the case of the original appointment.
(c) The Board shall select a chairman and a vice chairman from among its members at the beginning of each Congress. The vice chairman shall act in the place and stead of the chairman in the absence of the chairman. The chairmanship and the vice chairmanship shall alternate between the Senate and the House of Representatives with each Congress. The chairman during each even-numbered Congress shall be selected by the Members of the House of Representatives on the Board from among their number. The vice chairman during each Congress shall be chosen in the same manner from that House of Congress other than the House of Congress of which the chairman is a Member.
(d) The Board is authorized to sit and act at such places and times during the sessions, recesses, and adjourned periods of Congress, and upon a vote of a majority of its members, to require by subpoena or otherwise the attendance of such witnesses and the production of such books, papers, and documents, to administer such oaths and affirmations, to take such testimony, to procure such printing and binding, and to make such expenditures, as it deems advisable. The Board may make such rules respecting its organization and procedures as it deems necessary, except that no recommendation shall be reported from the Board unless a majority of the Board assent. Subpoenas may be issued over the signature of the chairman of the Board or of any voting member designated by him or by the Board, and may be served by such person or persons as may be designated by such chairman or member. The chairman of the Board or any voting member thereof may administer oaths or affirmations to witnesses.
DIRECTOR AND DEPUTY DIRECTOR
SEC. 5. (a) The Director of the Office of Technology Assessment shall be appointed by the Board and shall serve for a term of six years unless sooner removed by the Board. He shall receive basic pay at the rate provided for level III of the Executive Schedule under section 5314 of title 5, United States Code.
(b) In addition to the powers and duties vested in him by this Act, the Director shall exercise such powers and duties as may be delegated to him by the Board.
(c) The Director may appoint with the approval of the Board, a Deputy Director who shall perform such functions as the Director may prescribe and who shall be Acting Director during the absence or incapacity of the Director or in the event of a vacancy in the office of Director. The Deputy Director shall receive basic pay at the rate provided for level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code.
(d) Neither the Director nor the Deputy Director shall engage in any other business, vocation, or employment than that of serving as such Director or Deputy Director, as the case may be; nor shall the Director or Deputy Director, except with the approval of the Board, hold any office in, or act in any capacity for, any organization, agency, or institution with which the Office makes any contract or other arrangement under this Act.
AUTHORITY OF THE OFFICE
SEC. 6. (a) The Office shall have the authority, within the limits of available appropriations, to do all things necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act, including, but without being limited to, the authority to
1. make full use of competent personnel and organizations outside the Office, public or private, and form special ad hoc task forces or make other arrangements when appropriate;
2.enter into contracts or other arrangements as may be necessary for the conduct of the work of the Office with any agency or instrumentality of the United States, with any State, territory, or possession or any political subdivision thereof, or with any person, firm, association, corporation, or educational institution, with or without reimbursement, without performance or other bonds, and without regard to section 3709 of the Revised Statutes (41 U.S.C. 5);
3.make advance, progress, and other payments which relate to technology assessment without regard to the provisions of section 3648 of the Revised Statutes (31 U.S.C. 529);
4. accept and utilize the services of voluntary and uncompensated personnel necessary for the conduct of the work of the Office and provide transportation and subsistence as authorized by section 5703 of title 5, United States Code, for persons serving without compensation;
5. acquire by purchase, lease, loan, or gift, and hold and dispose of by sale, lease, or loan, real and personal property of all kinds necessary for or resulting from the exercise of authority granted by this Act; and
6. prescribe such rules and regulations as it deems necessary governing the operation and organization of the Office.
(b) Contractors and other parties entering into contracts and other arrangements under this section which involve costs to the Government shall maintain such books and related records as will facilitate an effective audit in such detail and in such manner as shall be prescribed by the Office, and such books and records (and related documents and papers) shall be available to the Office and the Comptroller General of the United States, or any of their duly authorized representatives, for the purpose of audit and examination.
(c) The Office, in carrying out the provisions of this Act, shall not, itself, operate any laboratories, pilot plants, or test facilities.
(d) The Office is authorized to secure directly from any executive department or agency information, suggestions, estimates, statistics, and technical assistance for the purpose of carrying out its functions under this Act. Each such executive department or agency shall furnish the information, suggestions, estimates, statistics, and technical assistance directly to the Office upon its request.
(e) On request of the Office, the head of any executive department or agency may detail, with or without reimbursement, any of its personnel to assist the Office in carrying out its functions under this Act.
(f) The Director shall, in accordance with such policies as the Board shall prescribe, appoint and fix the compensation of such personnel as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT ADVISORY COUNCIL
SEC. 7. (a) The Office shall establish a Technology Assessment Advisory Council (hereinafter referred to as the Council). The Council shall be composed of the following twelve members:
1. ten members from the public, to be appointed by the Board, who shall be persons eminent in one or more fields of the physical, biological, or social sciences or engineering or experienced in the administration of technological activities, or who may be judged qualified on the basis of contributions made to educational or public activities;
2.the Comptroller General; and
3.the Director of the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress.
(b) The Council, upon request by the Board, shall
1. review and make recommendations to the Board on activities undertaken by the Office or on the initiation thereof in accordance with section 3(d);
2. review and make recommendations to the Board on the findings of any assessment made by or for the Office; and
3. undertake such additional related tasks as the Board may direct.
(c) The Council, by majority vote, shall elect from its members appointed under subsection (a)(1) of this section a Chairman and a Vice Chairman, who shall serve for such time and under such conditions as the Council may prescribe. In the absence of the Chairman, or in the event of his incapacity, the Vice Chairman shall act as Chairman.
(d) The term of office of each member of the Council appointed under subsection (a)(1) shall be four years except that any such member appointed to fill a vacancy occurring prior to the expiration of the term for which his predecessor was appointed shall be appointed for the remainder of such term. No person shall be appointed a member of the Council under subsection (a)(1) more than twice. Terms of the members appointed under subsection (a)(1) shall be staggered so as to establish a rotating membership according to such method as the Board may devise.
(e)1.The members of the Council other than those appointed under subsection (a)(1) shall receive no pay for their services as members of the Council, but shall be allowed necessary travel expenses (or, in the alternative, mileage for use of privately owned vehicles and per diem in lieu of subsistence at not to exceed the rate prescribed in sections 5702 and 5704 of title 5, United States Code), and other necessary expenses incurred by them in the performance of duties vested in the Council, without regard to the provisions of subchapter 1 of chapter 57 and section 5731 of title 5, United States Code, and regulations promulgated thereunder.
(2) The members of the Council appointed under subsection (a)(1) shall receive compensation for each day engaged in the actual performance of duties vested in the Council at rates of pay not in excess of the daily equivalent of the highest rate of basic pay set forth in the General Schedule of section 5332(a) of title 5, United States Code, and in addition shall be reimbursed for travel, subsistence, and other necessary expenses in the manner provided for other members of the Council under paragraph (1) of this subsection.
UTILIZATION OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
SEC. 8. (a) To carry out the objectives of this Act, the Librarian of Congress is authorized to make available to the Office such services and assistance of the Congressional Research Service as may be appropriate and feasible.
(b) Such services and assistance made available to the Office shall include, but not be limited to, all of the services and assistance which the Congressional Research Service is otherwise authorized to provide to the Congress.
(c) Nothing in this section shall alter or modify any services or responsibilities, other than those performed for the Office, which the Congressional Research Service under law performs for or on behalf of the Congress. The Librarian is, however, authorized to establish within the Congressional Research Service such additional divisions, groups, or other organizational entities as may be necessary to carry out the purpose of this Act.
(d) Services and assistance made available to the Office by the Congressional Research Service in accordance with this section may be provided with or without reimbursement from funds of the Office, as agreed upon by the Board and the Librarian of Congress.
UTILIZATION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE
SEC. 9. (a) Financial and administrative services (including those related to budgeting, accounting, financial reporting, personnel, and procurement) and such other services as may be appropriate shall be provided the Office by the General Accounting Office.
(b) Such services and assistance to the Office shall include, but not be limited to, all of the services and assistance which the General Accounting Office is otherwise authorized to provide to the Congress.
(c) Nothing in this section shall alter or modify any services or responsibilities, other than those performed for the Office, which the General Accounting Office under law performs for or on behalf of the Congress.
(d) Services and assistance made available to the Office by the General Accounting Office in accordance with this section may be provided with or without reimbursement from funds of the Office, as agreed upon by the Board and the Comptroller General.
COORDINATION WITH THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION SEC. 10. (a) The Office shall maintain a continuing liaison with the National Science Foundation with respect to
1.grants and contracts formulated or activated by the Foundation which are for purposes of technology assessment; and
2. the promotion of coordination in areas of technology assessment, and the avoidance of unnecessary duplication or overlapping of research activities in the development of technology assessment techniques and programs.
(b) Section 3(b) of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 U.S.C. 1862(b)), is amended to read as follows:
"(b) The Foundation is authorized to initiate and support specific scientific activities in connection with matters relating to international cooperation, national security, and the effects of scientific applications upon society by making contracts or other arrangements (including grants, loans, and other forms of assistance) for the conduct of such activities. When initiated or supported pursuant to requests made by any other Federal department or agency, including the Office of Technology Assessment, such activities shall be financed whenever feasible from funds transferred to the Foundation by the requesting official as provided in section 14(g), and any such activities shall be unclassified and shall be identified by the Foundation as being undertaken at the request of the appropriate official."
SEC. 11. The Office shall submit to the Congress an annual report which shall include, but not be limited to, an evaluation of technology assessment techniques and identification, insofar as may be feasible, of technological areas and programs requiring future analysis. Such report shall be submitted not later than March 15 of each year.
SEC. 12. (a) To enable the Office to carry out its powers and duties, there is hereby authorized to be appropriated to the Office, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, not to exceed $5,000,000 in the aggregate for the two fiscal years ending June 30, 1973, and June 30, 1974, and thereafter such sums as may be necessary.
(b) Appropriations made pursuant to the authority provided in subsection (a) shall remain available for obligation, for expenditure, or for obligation and expenditure for such period or periods as may be specified in the Act making such appropriations.
Approved October 13, 1972.
No. 92-469 (Comm. on Science and Astronautics) and No. 92-1436 (Comm. of Conference).
No. 92-1123 (Comm. on Rules and Administration).
Vol. 118 (1972): Feb. 8, considered and passed House. Sept. 14, considered and passed Senate, amended. Sept. 22, Senate agreed to conference report. Oct. 4, House agreed to conference report.