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12.2. EXPLANATION OF CHANGES SHOWN ON SCHEDULE C1 FOR DIVISION C
Office of Technology Assessment
Science, Information, and Natural Resources Division
A. MANDATORY PAY AND RELATED COSTS
1. Annualization of January 1993 3.7% Cost-of-Living Adjustment 2.January 1994 2.2% Cost-of-Living Adjustment
3. Merit increases and promotions averaging 3% agency-wide
4. Annualization of January 1993 9.5% plus estimated January 1994 9.5% health benefit increases
5. Increase in retirement contributions (FERS)
6. Increase in unemployment compensation 7.January 1994 2.9% locality-based pay adjustment
B. PRICE LEVEL CHANGES
1. Travel inflation rate of 6.25% applied to base
2. Printing and publications inflation rate of 3.7% applied to base
3. Consultant services inflation rate of 3% applied to base
4. Other services inflation rate of 3% applied to base
5. Supplies and materials inflation rate of 3% applied to base
C. PROGRAM TYPE CHANGES
Staff Amount (000)
Staff Amount (000)
Staff Amount (000)
a. Additional assessments and studies
3. Equipment, Alterations, Maintenance, Repairs, Etc.
Role of the Science, Information, and Natural Resources Division
The Science, Information, and Natural Resources Division comprises three programs: Telecommunication and Computing Technologies; Oceans and Environment; and Science, Education, and Transportation.
The Telecommunication and Computing Technologies Program is concerned with technologies that create, read, store, manipulate, transmit, or display information. Primarily these are electronic technologies exemplified by computers and communications systems. The core responsibilities of the Program require monitoring the research and development of new information technologies and assessing the technological state of the art in these areas as well as trends in basic research and development. The Program also studies telecommunications regulation, information policy, and applications of information technology in the public
The Oceans and Environment Program has responsibility for all ocean-related questions, including ocean resources and maritime policy, and for large-scale environmental issues, such as climate modification and water pollution. As a result of changing Congressional interest, the Program has developed capability for analyzing the difficult questions in which the overriding concern lies with the environmental effects of decisions. The work of the Program usually falls under one of five basic categories: Federal services, natural resources, pollution control, marine industry, and large-scale environmental issues.
The Science, Education, and Transportation Program is responsible for work on a variety of topics, ranging from the traditional technology assessment issue of transportation to the newer issues of science policy and education. Science policy considers the health of the U.S. scientific enterprise, as well as allocation and decision-methods available to the Congress to support and manage research. Education work concentrates on schools but includes non-school delivery systems as well, and normally focuses on the use of technology to enhance learning.
12.4 Accomplishments of the Science, Information, and Natural Resources Division
In FY 1992, the Science, Information, and Natural Resources Division published 5 assessment reports:
Testing in American Schools: Asking the Right Questions
Global Standards: Building Blocks for the Future
Finding A Balance: Computer Software, Intellectual Property and the Challenge of Technological
The Division also published 6 background papers:
The 1992 World Administrative Radio Conference (WARC 1992): Issues for U.S. International
The FBI Fingerprint Identification Automation Program: Issues and Options
Dioxin Treatment Technologies
Managing Industrial Solid Wastes from Manufacturing, Mining, Oil and Gas Production, and Utility
Alaskan Water for California? The Subsea Pipeline Option
Disposal of Chemical Weapons: Alternative Technologies
In addition, the Division testified 9 times.
Listed below are several examples of direct legislative use of the Division's work:
Telecommunication and Computing Technologies
The House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, used the OTA report, The FBI Fingerprint Identification Automation Program: Issues and Options, as a basis for conducting oversight of the FBI's identification automation program.
The House and Senate Appropriations Committee staffs used the report as input to FY94 appropriations and oversight decisions for the FBI fingerprint identification automation and revitalization program (including the Identification Division move to West Virginia).
The House and Senate used the OTA report, Automated Record Checks of Firearm Purchasers: Issues and Options, in analyzing legislation on firearms purchaser waiting periods and record checks. The crime legislation, which includes the firearms provisions, may be reintroduced in some form in the 103rd Congress.
3. The OTA reports, Informing the Nation: Electronic Dissemination of Federal Information and Helping America Compete: The Role of Federal Scientific and Technical Information were used in congressional formulation and consideration of S.1044, the "Federal Information Resources Management Act," S.1139, the "Paperwork Reduction Act of 1991," H.R.2772, the "GPO Wide Information Network for Data Online Act" and H.R. 3459, the "Improvement of Information Access Act." All of these bills failed of enactment in the 102nd Congress; some are likely to be reintroduced, perhaps in revised form, in the 103rd Congress.
The OTA report Helping America Compete was used in congressional formulation and consideration of the National Technical Information Service-related provisions of the "Technology Preeminence Act," that was enacted by the 102nd Congress.
Oceans and Environment
1. Complex Cleanup, which analyzed environmental remediation and waste management programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons complex, led to a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conf. Rpt. 102-966 (Sec. 3103) of H.R. 5006 for Fiscal Year 1993 that requires DOE to prepare, with broad outside input, a report to Congress assessing the effectiveness of its citizen advisory groups and of methods of improving public participation in its environmental and waste management
OTA's report, Complex Cleanup led to provisions in the Defense Authorization Act for FY92 that provided additional funding for ATSDR's health assessments at DOE sites, and expanded the authority of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board to include oversight over DOE's environmental remediation and waste management programs.
Complex Cleanup was the basis for a provision of the Senate-passed version of the Defense Authorization Act for FY93, S. 3114, Sec. 3119, that would have established at DOE nuclear weapons sites sitespecific citizen advisory boards modeled on a policy option in the OTA report. Complex Cleanup was quoted in the Senate report in discussing the rationale for the provision.
Complex Cleanup was the basis for several House bills. After OTA staff briefed Rep. Richardson on the OTA report, he introduced the "Federal Facilities Community Oversight for Public Health Act of 1992" (H.R. 5121) that would have amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act to establish citizens advisory boards for each DOE nuclear weapons facilities, and to strengthen the role and capability of ATSDR to conduct health assessments at DOE facilities, and to involve the public in such assessments. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Briefings of committee staff also served as input to other legislation that would have amended Superfund legislation.
OTA staff provided technical information derived on Complex Cleanup for provisions incorporated into the Federal Facilities Compliance Act, S. 596, and H.R. 2194, enacted this session.
Following release of OTA's background paper, Disposal of Chemical Weapons: Alternative Technologies, and briefings of member staffs and committees, legislation was introduced in the Senate and House to create a mechanism to explore and develop alternative technologies and to require the Army to postpone construction of incinerators until alternative approaches were evaluated. The final defense budget legislation puts a hold on the Army's program, and eliminates $105 million for the Alabama incinerator until a review and report to Congress is completed at the end of 1993. Other results included state laws for more stringent emission limits on the chemical weapons incinerators and attention to local citizen group's concern by the Army and its advisors.
Many options developed by OTA Changing By Degrees: Steps to Reduce Greenhouse Gases were included in the Energy Bill. Continued support to the House and Senate Committees as they worked to develop a joint Energy Bill. About 15 measures described in the report are incorporated into the Bill.
Science, Education, and Transportation
The Chairman's Report from the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Task Force on the Health of Research, was released September 1992. OTA staff acted as technical advisor to the Task Force based on research done for the report, Federally Funded Research: Decisions for a Decade.
OTA staff was consulted in June 1992 by the Senate Committee on Appropriations about the status and evaluation of NSF's EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), which was examined in Federally Funded Research. The Committee was trying to understand the pros and cons for increasing EPSCoR's FY93 appropriation to $24.5 million.
2. OTA produced a memo in April 1992 for the House Committee on the Budget Task Force on Defense, Foreign Policy, and Space, concerning priority-setting and agency portfolio-building. The memo was an input to Committee hearings and other discussions on "big science" projects, especially the SSC, and the need for crosscutting budget decisions.
OTA staff provided support for the April 1992 House Subcommittee on Science Investigations and Oversight hearing on Projecting Science and Engineering Requirements for the 1990s: How Certain Are the Numbers? The hearing exposed the misuse by NSF of a model that predicts shortages of scientists and engineers.
4. OTA staff served as an expert witness at a Forum on Telecommunications and Dissemination, convened by the Subcommittee on Select Education of the House Committee on Education and Labor, April 2, 1992. The purpose of the Forum was to give Committee staff outside advice on a telecommunications initiative being proposed by the Department of Education. (The outcome of the meeting was development of additional language in the bill for the reauthorization of Office of Educational Research and Improvement.)
OTA's report, Linking for Learning: A New Course for Education, staff briefings for Senator Kennedy, and testimony were used to draft legislation and S. 3134, the Ready to Learn Television Act. (Affects delivery of information for young children.)
6. OTA's report, New Ways: Tiltrotor Aircraft and Magnetically Levitated Vehicles, was used by House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Rept. 102-297, as background on Federal policy issues for maglev and high-speed rail.
OTA was quoted in the Report of the House Committee on Appropriations zeroing out funds for magnetically levitated vehicles.