The Politics of Expertise in Congress: The Rise and Fall of the Office of Technology Assessment

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SUNY Press, 1996 - Technology & Engineering - 128 pages
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Nowhere in the U.S. government is the marriage between expertise and politics more normatively troublesome and empirically obscure than in Congress. The legislature is asked to be both expert and representative, to act on the best available information and judgment about policy problems while being responsive to, and reflective of, constituents' demands. This book examines the relationship betweentechnical experts and elected officials, challenging the prevailing view about how experts become politicized by the policy process.

Bimber presents a theory about the connections between institutional structure and the strategies of experts who participate in politics. He tests this theory by tracing the interaction between Congress and the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), a recently abolished legislative branch agency created in 1972 to estimate the consequences of new technologies and free Congress from complete dependence on the executive branch for information and policy analysis. In addition, he provides comparative portraits of Congress's remaining support agencies--the Congressional Budget Office, the Congressional Research Office, and the General Accounting Office--and argues that the legislative context for the politics of expertise reveals patterns that have been overlooked in studies of expert knowledge and executive-branch policymaking.

 

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Contents

Knowledge and Power
1
A Theory of the Politicization of Expertise
12
OTA The Office of WHAT?
25
Building OTA The Separation of Powers
40
Saving OTA Party Politics and the Strategy of Neutrality
50
Sustaining OTA Committee Politics and the Strategy of Neutrality
60
Abolishing OTA Budget Politics in the 104th Congress
69
The Other Congressional Support Agencies
78
Conclusion
93
Notes
101
Bibliography
115
Index
125
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Page 117 - Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 1983, Appendix, p.

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About the author (1996)

Bruce Bimber is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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