Expanding GAO’s Science & Technology Expertise
We provide Congress with nonpartisan and fact-based analysis of technological and scientific developments that affect our society, environment, and economy. To enhance our ability to do this, we established the Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics (STAA) team in January 2019.
Today’s WatchBlog looks at our efforts to put more science and technology (S&T) analysis into the hands of Congress.
Responding Quickly to Congress’s Priorities
In accordance with our STAA team plan, we have provided state-of-the-art scientific and technical information to the Congress, including:
- Technology assessments covering water use in agriculture and protection of the electric grid from geomagnetic disturbances
- A new series called Science & Tech Spotlights, where we analyzed blockchain, hypersonic weapons, opioid vaccines, and probabilistic genotyping software
- Evaluations of quantum computing, synthetic biology, U.S. manufacturing, the timeliness of small business awards, and sexual harassment in STEM research
We are also tackling additional topics to meet Congress’s growing demand for thorough and balanced analysis.
Meeting Congress’s Growing Needs
In its recent assessment of S&T policy, the National Academy of Public Administration recommended that “…existing legislative support agencies (i.e., the GAO and the CRS), both with long history and respected performance, be given authority and resources to further develop their ability to respond to congressional inquiries and expand their capabilities to close the S&T resources support supply gap.”
To address this need, we have taken steps to further expand our S&T capability.
- We have prioritized technology assessments that are fact-based, independent, nonpartisan, and responsive to the needs of Congress. We also now offer policy options as part of our technology assessment approach and have asked for public review and comment on our Technology Assessment Design Handbook.
- We have successfully recruited top S&T talent. This includes engineers, chemists, biologists, physical scientists, and other technical experts who work in partnership with our extensive array of program and policy experts. Over the next several years, the STAA team’s plan is to grow to 140 people and add expertise in biological sciences, engineering, quantum computing, nuclear physics, physics/aerospace engineering, and data analysis.
- We are working to create our own S&T advisory board and will continue expanding our networks of external experts and advisory boards.
We look forward to continue providing Congress with the kind of foresight, insight, and oversight that policymakers need to make informed decisions about science and technology issues.
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