Institutes of higher learning in the US should help keep lawmakers informed on technical issues, Justin Talbot-Zorn and Sridhar Kota write in an opinion piece at Wired.
They argue that closing of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment in the 1990s and the decreasing budgets for committee staff and for legislative research agencies has left a void in lawmakers' technical knowledge. This, they add, comes at a time when legislators need to be able to separate truth from falsehood and make sense of technical issues from advanced manufacturing to Zika."
To bridge this gap, Talbot-Zorn and Kota call on the country's universities to provide expertise. For instance, they say schools could make experts available to discuss technical topics with legislators or their staff, offer mini-courses on topics of the day during Congressional recesses, or have students seeking doctorates in policy provide technical reports.
"Taking these steps can not only improve the speed and effectiveness of policymaking but also reduce the influence of special interests and politically motivated research," they argue.