In the Sept. 18 editorial “Tech tutors for Congress,” The Post encouraged Congress to restart the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), asserting that Capitol Hill needs resources to grapple with how technology is reshaping society. That is absolutely true — tech expertise would help Congress become more effective. I know because I’ve been embedding technologists in Congress for the past three years.
When I was working for then-Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), I needed tech expertise and advice. That’s why I founded TechCongress, which places technologists in congressional offices through a one-year fellowship. Of the 3,500 legislative staffers in Congress, I’ve found just seven who have formal technical training — meaning most staff are unprepared or reliant on interest groups to understand complex technology issues.
The Post notes that Congress “needs to understand what it is doing,” and a recent independent evaluation of TechCongress shows that technologists will help. Fellows act as fact-checkers on interest groups and have provided support on issues ranging from privacy and cybersecurity to drones and biotechnology.
Tech increasingly touches every issue, and Congress needs tech expertise in-house to keep up. Restarting OTA will do just that.
Travis Moore, San Francisco
The writer is the founder of TechCongress.