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6. Changes in OTA's Prior Plans for FY 1992

During FY 1992, OTA essentially accomplished its goals, with approved modifications, negotiated reductions in some projects, and additions to others to meet the changing needs of Congress and accommodate the inherent uncertainty of research. Also, during the year OTA's General and Administration activities were restructured in a way that allowed a greater share of resources to flow to the analytical divisions.

The chart below shows the variations in actual obligations for the OTA divisions for FY 1992 from the planned obligations for FY 1992 provided on Schedule A in the FY 1992 budget justification. The chart on page 16 provides a summary by object class of projects and actual expenditures for FY 1992.

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7. OTA's Goals for FY 1994

Over the past 20 years, OTA has provided Congress with hundreds of reports on emerging technologies and with policy options for governing in a time of rapid technological change. Congress's agenda for FY 1994, and the events that could dominate its attention, are only partially predictable. This means that OTA must carefully manage its shrinking capacity for "flexible response" by continuing to sustain expertise in key issues involving science and technology. We fully expect that a number of current issues will remain high on the agenda and may become increasingly important: the strengthening of the U.S. civilian industry to compete in a global economy, education and training, improved ways to assure quality health care; the peaceful transformation of centrally planned economies into market economies; the management of local, regional, and global environments; restructuring the executive programs (e.g., energy, space) and reevaluating priorities; and changing U.S. defense efforts as the international security environment changes.

OTA's appropriation has remained approximately level, in constant dollars, since FY 1985. Our FY 1994 budget request reflects an effort to hold on to the capability we now possess. OTA's primary goal is to ensure that the committees of Congress understand technological developments and how the legislative process can affect these developments and help the Nation accomplish its aims. To do that, we must be able to attract superior analysts from all scientific and technological disciplines, and we must provide our analysts with the tools (c.g, computing power) necessary to maintain productivity. The budget request presented here would enable OTA to sustain its present level of effort. In addition, OTA is requesting restoration of $480,000 to support contractual analyses and advisory panel meetings and workshops; this figure would enable OTA to devote approximately 23 percent of its research divisions' budgets to contracting, which we believe is minimal to meet the needs of a small agency with analytical capabilities across a diverse span of disciplines.

Priorities in Program Work

OTA's agenda is driven by the explicit needs of congressional committees. Therefore, we cannot predict in detail the new assessments that will be undertaken in a given year. In response to the Appropriations Committees' request, however, OTA has prepared a list of subjects that are representative of the of assessments we may be asked to undertake. Such an exercise, using a wide variety of information sources, helps sharpen the discussions between OTA staff and congressional committees. It also reflects one of the charges Congress assigned to OTA: foresight about emerging technology. The most recent list (see below) was derived from a much larger group of subjects that have come to OTA's attention via its own work, requests and inquiries already received from committees, the technical literature, interactions with members and staff of Congress, and from peers in the Executive Branch and outside of the government. Because OTA works hard to be responsive to changing congressional needs, work actually begun in a given year is often significantly different from OTA's prospective list, but new work usually does contain some of the identified issues. (Brief descriptions of the candidate studies are provided in the sections on divisions' priorities on pages 31, 44, and 57).

Candidate Areas for New Assessments in Fiscal Years 1993 and 1994

The topics given in this list have been identified by congressional committees, OTA, and its advisers as technical issues the Congress will face over the next several years. Note: 1) This list is not given in order of priority, 2) the actual number of issues we can undertake as full assessments is not more than 1 in 3 or 4 of those listed.

Energy and Materials

Energy Research and Development: Responding to Changing Needs

Social Costs of Energy Consumption

Energy and Urban Design

Natural Gas: U.S. Supply Availability

Materials Use and the U.S. Economy

Sustainable Stewardship: Technology and Multiple Resource Management of

Federal Lands and Resources

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Cleaner Manufacturing Technologies and U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness Employment Implications of Environmental Regulation

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Food and Renewable Resources

Impacts of Increased Agriculture Trade on the Environment

Technologies to Use and Reuse Agricultural Water Efficiently

Pest Control in America: To 2000 and Beyond

Implications of Endangered Species Protection for Management of Renewable Resources in America

Technologies for Ecological Restoration

Resource Management and Public Education in the National Parks


Information Technology and the Health Care System

Managed Health Care: Cost Saving and Health Effects
AIDS Studies

Health Technology Under Global Health Care Budgets

Health Care and the Inner City

Prescription Drugs and Health Care Reform

Telecommunication and Computing Technologies

Networked Information and Individual Privacy and Security

Wireless Communication Services

Online Digital Libraries: Accessibility, Usability, Copyright & Security

Advanced Visualization Technology: Multimedia, Virtual Reality & Cyberspace

Mission-critical Computer Software for the Federal Government

Future Directions in Advanced Computers

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31 Equipment





32 Land and Structures

42 Insurance Claims and Indemnities





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