The broken record in the U.S. of calling for the restoration of the Office of Technology Assessment (unfunded but never officially eliminated) may soon have company. On the Danish budget chopping block is the Danish Board of Technology (H/T Nature – via Twitter – and ScienceInsider). Under legislation currently being considered, the agency would be ended to help meet a three percent cut in the country’s research budget.
If you peruse the Board’s website, or the reporting on the matter, you should note that Teknologi-Radet is an incredibly effective science policy agency. Its mission is much broader than the Office of Technology Assessment – which was focused on informing the U.S. Congress. While it does assist the Danish parliament, Teknologi-Radet has conducted research and practical exercises both within Denmark and globally. The Board is perhaps the worldwide leader in citizen consultation processes (which help assess future risks and benefits of emerging technologies), and the loss of that capacity will be felt far beyond Denmark.
There appears to be a small window of opportunity where the Board could be saved. If it is defunded, I do hope its supporters will take a good look at the highly ineffectual efforts in the U.S. to restore its Office of Technology Assessment and avoid those mistakes.