Comparative Table of Parliamentary TA Institutions
CAPCIT is a body attached to the Parliament of Catalonia; nonetheless,
it bears a nature, structure and undertakes duties that make it stand
out from the other bodies of the Parliament of Catalonia. CAPCIT is a
mixed body, composed of a total of 18 members as follows:
The IEC is the scientific academy of Catalonia and also the academy for
the Catalan language. The FCRI is an institution whose goal is to
support and promote research and innovation. C4 is devoted to
scientific dissemination. And ACUP's main purpose is to be the
principal voice of the universities of Catalonia.
Many of the issues coming before the European Parliament (EP) nowadays
have a scientific or technological dimension to them. Technological and
scientific advances lie at the heart of economic growth, and it is
necessary to understand the impact of these technologies and how to
best support scientific and technological innovation.
In this context, there is a growing need for legislators and
policy-makers at national and European level to rely on independent,
impartial and accessible information about developments in science and
technology (S&T), the opportunities they offer, but also the risks
they entail and their ethical implications.
- 9 are members of the Parliament of
Catalonia: 6 Members of Parliament (MPs) are appointed, one for each of
the six parliamentary groups represented in the Parliament of
Catalonia; 2 MPs are members of the Board of the Parliament of
Catalonia, as well as the president of the Parliament, who also holds
the presidency of CAPCIT.
- 9 are representatives
from the main scientific and technical institutions of Catalonia: the
Institute for Catalan Studies (IEC) with 3 representatives; the Catalan
Foundation for Research and Innovation (FCRI, 2 representatives); the
Catalan Council for Scientific Communication (C4, 1 representative),
and finally, the Catalan Public University Association (ACUP, 3
The launch of STOA (Science and Technology Options Assessment), in
1987, was the European ParliamentÂ´s response to this need.
The main components of the STOAÂ´s mission are (STOA Rules, Article 1):
- providing Parliament’s committees
and other parliamentary bodies concerned with independent, high-quality and
scientifically impartial studies and information for the assessment of the
impact of possibly introducing or promoting new technologies and identifying, from the
technological point of view, the options for the best courses of action to
- organising forums in which
politicians and representatives of scientific communities or organisations and
of society as a whole discuss and compare scientific and technological
developments of political relevance to civil society;
- supporting and coordinating
initiatives to strengthen parliamentary technology assessment activities in the
Member States of the European Union, including creating or enhancing
parliamentary technology assessment capacities in European countries,
especially new Member States.
Brief STOA history
In October 1985, the EP adopted a report "on
the establishment of a European Parliament Office for Scientific and
Technological Option Assessment", which stressed "the particular needs of the
standing committees and political groups in technical and political
decision-making, which can be met only by an autonomous technology assessment
office" and proposed "that a European Parliament office for scientific and
technological option assessment should be set up ... to coordinate assessment
work and award external contracts in support of its work".
a decision by the EP Bureau in June
1986, STOA was officially launched in March 1987 as an 18-month pilot
at the end of which, in September 1988, the EP Bureau authorised STOA
continue its work on a permanent basis, on condition that it make its
available to all standing parliamentary committees. As such, STOA
its 20 years of existence in 2007 with a major exhibition ("The STOA
during the EP plenary session in Strasbourg in June of that year. In
2012 STOA marked its 25th anniversary with a very successful event on
the discovery of the scalar boson predicted by R. Brout, F. Englert and
P.Higgs, followed by a festive reception attended by all past STOA
activities were initially governed by a
series of Bureau Decisions, which were assembled in the Consolidated
Rules of Procedure of STOA and approved by the EP Bureau on 25 October
13 January 2003, the EP Bureau adopted STOA Rules defining the nature
describing STOA bodies and setting the framework conditions for STOA
These rules were in force until the end of the 1999–2004 legislative
period, whereupon the new STOA Rules, approved by the EP Bureau on 19
April 2004, entered into force.
2009, the STOA Rules were further modified,
based on proposals submitted by the EP Vice-President responsible for
The main purpose of these modifications was to add a European dimension
mission and include an additional criterion for selecting STOA projects
alignment with the priorities defined by the STOA Panel, as well as to
stipulate a second Vice-Chairman and simplify certain procedures. In
2015 the Rules were modified once again to account for the increase in
STOA membership: from 15 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs)
representing six EP Committees, to 24 Members from eight Committees.
The Committee for the Future was established in 1993 from the
very beginning as a committee in the Finnish Parliament. The creation
at almost the same time of the Finland Futures Research Centre in Turku
University and the Committee for the Future had the same motivation: to
develop a national foresight system against the background of the
recession that was afflicting Finland in the early 1990s. In the
intervening period, thinking in relation to the future has become
broadly and deeply rooted in Finnish society. The Finnish foresight
system is of a versatility that is rare anywhere in the world.
Giving a standing committee within the Finnish parliamentary
system a new, future-oriented role of this kind was not at all easy,
for many reasons. What has been remarkable in light of this is that the
initiative came from the legislators themselves.
Science, technology and creation of new concepts and ideas as well
as revitalisation of institutions has been important, but so is the
ability to recognise what will be permanent in the future and what
ought to be.
The IST was founded by decree by the Flemish Parliament on 17
July 2000, as an independent, autonomously functioning organisation for
technology assessment. At that time it was called viWTA (Flemish
Institute for Science and Technology Assessment). After an evaluation
in 2008, it has been renamed Institute Society and Technology.
As an autonomous institution associated with the Flemish
Parliament, the Institute has its own executive board, which consists
of 16 members. Eight of them are members of the Flemish Parliament,
belonging to the various parties in the parliament. One of them will be
appointed to the Presidency of the board. The other half is composed of
experts from the Flemish scientific, technological, environmental and
The daily responsibility of the Institute is being held by the
scientific secretariat. Besides a director and an administrative
secretariat, the staff is composed of a small but thoroughgoing group
of 4 up to 6 researchers and a communication manager.
Whereas science was long considered as a
vehicle of knowledge, and not as the principle of an action, modern times have
witnessed the development of sciences and technologies enabling mankind to act
upon nature. However, in doing so, fresh problems and new concerns have arisen.
From this observation was born the idea of technology assessment which appeared
essential to scientific and political bodies. Mechanisms had to be put in place
in order to control technical progress while, at the same time, anticipating
In the early 1980’s, during a number of debates
such as the orientations concerning nuclear, spatial or cable programmes, the
French Parliament came to the conclusion that it was unable to assess
Government decisions on the major directions of scientific and technological
policy. It therefore decided to establish its own structure of assessment: the
Parliamentary Office for Scientific and Technological Assessment (Office
Parlementaire d’Evaluation des Choix Scientifiques et Technologiques, OPECST).
The OPECST, which was set up by Law
no.83-609 of July 8, 1983, following a unanimous vote of Parliament, aims,
within the terms of the Law, "to inform Parliament of the consequences of the
choice of scientific and technological options, in particular, so as to enable
it to make enlightened decisions". To do this, it "collects information,
launches study programmes and carries out assessments".
As in other industrialized countries, public debates on
"Technology Assessment" started in Germany in 1972-1973, prompted by
the creation of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) of the U.S.
Congress and the prior intensive debate on TA and its
institutionalization. This debate only bore fruit in 1989 with a
parliamentary resolution to create the "BÃ¼ro fÃ¼r
Technikfolgen-AbschÃ¤tzung beim Deutschen Bundestag". The organizational
model adopted has two key features.
THE GOVERNING POLITICAL BODY
The Research and Technology
Committee, which was given the responsibility for initiating TA
investigations and controlling them politically, was renamed "Committee
for Research, Technology and Technology Assessment". The Committee's
secretariat was expanded in line with these new responsibilities.
THE OPERATIONAL TA UNIT
Under the terms of the Bundestag
resolution, an appropriate scientific institution outside Parliament
must be selected through tender and commissioned to establish and
operate the TA unit. The legal basis for this is a supplement to
section 56 of the Bundestag's Rules of Procedure. The TA unit to be
established will work exclusively for the Bundestag. It has to ensure
parliament-specific presentation and communication of the results of
On 29 August 1990, after a tendering procedure and at the proposal of
the then Committee on Research and Technology, a contract was signed
with the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Centre for a three-year pilot phase
and the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB)
was founded. Since then, it has been operated by the Institute for
Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) Centre (before 1995
it was named AFAS, Department for Applied Systems Analysis) of the
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), a merger of the Karlsruhe
Research Centre and the University of Karlsruhe.
After the conclusion of the pilot phase, the German Bundestag decided
on 4 March 1993 to establish a permanent advisory institution
"Technology Assessment (TA) at the German Bundestag", as a result of
the positive findings of the responsible Committee for Research,
Technology and Technology Assessment. Since that time, the TA unit is
run on the basis of a series of contracts with a duration of five years
each. The last major change was in 2002 the decision that ITAS would
cooperate in specific areas with the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems
and Innovation Research, Karlsruhe. The current contract runs till
instituted at the onset of every legislative period upon the
Parliament's decision following a proposal of the government or the
presidents of the parliamentary groups. With the decision on the
composition of the committee, the Parliament determines the topic that
the committee will deal with and the deadline by which it will submit
its findings. The special committees are composed by the one tenth
(1/10) and up to the one fifth (1/5) of the total number of Members of
Parliament (article 42). Currently it consists of 25 Members of
Parliament representing all the parliamentary groups in the House.
Its task covers any matter within the sphere of research and
technology development in order to give advice on relevant strategic
issues. It is also entitled with the encouragement of international
cooperation on technology assessment. Article 43 A of the Standing Orders
of the Hellenic parliament provides also that the committee for the
accomplishment of its task may cooperate with similar institutions
functioning within the parliaments of other countries, encourage the
international cooperation and research on TA matters and proceed to the
exchange of information between the respective parliamentary
institutions on TA.
The scientific support of its work is undertaken by the
Directorate of Studies of the Hellenic Parliament. Several scientists
and research fellows participate in the discussion meetings of the
committee in order to present their points of view on TA matters..
In 1986, the Rathenau Instituut was founded by the Dutch
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The institute is governed
by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). The
ministerial decree establishing it guarantees the Institute's autonomy,
including its financial autonomy.
The Rathenau Instituut has a Board whose members are appointed by
the Minister, at the nomination of the sitting members of the Board,
and in consultation with the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and
Sciences (KNAW) and the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR).
The Institute's staff consists of a Chairman and Board, a
Programme Council and a multidisciplinary team of scientific
researchers and communication experts. In this team, physicists,
biologists, statisticians, computer scientists and technical engineers
cooperate with social and political scientists, philosophers and
economists. Their common objective is to develop a clear picture of the
political and societal debate and to feed and stimulate it as much as
The institute employs approximately 50 people and has an annual budget of around 5 million EUR.
The Government appoints the 15 members of the
board for 4-year terms. The members come from academia and business and
encompass broad insights in different areas of technology and innovation as
well as ethics and societal issues. The Board initiates new projects, which in
turn are executed by its own secretariat. Chair of the Board is currently Mrs Siri
Hatlen (appointed for the 2012–2016 period). The secretariat employs nine
people, including one senior executive officer, six project managers and one
information manager. The secretariat is led by the Director, Tore TennÃ¸e.
The NBT is funded by the Government, but to
ensure independence, The Norwegian Research Council acts as the supervising
The Board’s main tasks are:
- To identify and analyse major technological challenges and contribute to a humane and sustainable technological development.
- To follow current international trends, developments and activities within TA and technological foresight.
- To actively stimulate public debate on technology related issues.
explore the potential benefits and consequences of specific
technologies for both individual citizens and the society at large.
- To communicate the results of its work to the Parliament, governmental authorities and the wider society.
From 2007, the committees have been able to
submit proposals and requests to the Parliamentary Evaluation and Research Unit
(PER), which can assist in conducting technology assessments (TAs) within
different areas. The unit, situated at the Committee services division, works
on behalf of the committees of the Riksdag. Sweden has thus adopted the "Parliamentary
unit model" which means that the parliament has its own office for TA studies.
Switzerland is known for its direct democracy.
Citizens can participate in decision making with regard to their individual and
their communal life. However, those who have felt the need for an institution
carrying out technology assessment (TA) have formed a different opinion: "In
our developed democracy it is possible to vote on milk prices but ... not on
the great challenges ... as for instance the adoption (or the renunciation) of new
technologies", explains René Longet, a former National assembly member. It was Longet
who demanded an institutionalised technology assessment in order to encourage
public debate on science and society, technology and democracy.
1991, the Swiss Science and Technology
Council (SSTC) was granted a mandate to originate a technology
for the years 1992 to 1995. The SSTC was assigned to the Federal
Home Affairs (Eidgenössisches Departement des Innern, EDI). After
test phase, the mandate was extended and became statutory as part of
federal law on scientific research (Schweizerisches Bundesgesetz
Forschung). Thereby, technology assessment was definitely accepted into
scope statement of the SSTC. Another amendment followed in 2007. The
the administrative affiliation of TA-SWISS was taken up again. As in a
other European countries, technology assessment was entrusted to the
of sciences, in this case to the Swiss Academies of Art and Sciences
der Wissenschaften Schweiz). Since January 1, 2008, TA-SWISS has become
of excellence and an organisation unit of its own within the Swiss
of Arts and Sciences. This independence has been formally acknowledge
by TA-SWISS becoming a foundation in October 2016. A foundation council
with six members representing the political and academic world is now
responsible for the overall management of TA-SWISS.
For its first three years, POST operated outside of Parliament
as a charitable foundation, funded by UK learned societies and
The intention was always for POST to be an internal parliamentary
office and in 1992 both Houses of the UK Parliament decided to take
over its funding and to create a pioneering bicameral office. In 2000,
both Houses took the decision to make POST a permanent institution at
Parliament, after an examination by the House of Commons Information
Committee and a debate in the Commons chamber.
Finally, in 1985, a small working party was founded at the
Institute for Socio-Economic Development Research at the Austrian
Academy of Sciences (Ã–AW) around Ernst Braun, formerly the head of the
Technology Policy Unit (University of Aston), giving rise on 1.1.1988
to the Technology Assessment Unit (FTB), which later, on 1.1.1994,
became the Institute of Technology Assessment (Institut fÃ¼r
Technikfolgen-AbschÃ¤tzung, ITA). Ernst Braun left Austria as director
in 1991, and was succeeded first by Gunther Tichy and then, in 2006, by
Michael Nentwich. The ITA is an associate member of EPTA and a founder
member of the NTA (network of the German speaking TA community).
On May 5, 1949 ten Governments
signed in London the Statute of a new kind of European organisation, the
Council of Europe, with two main statutory bodies: the Committee of Ministers
(a conventional ministerial organ) and the Parliamentary Assembly, representing
the political forces in the Member States.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe (the Assembly) is the oldest international parliamentary Assembly with a
pluralistic composition of democratically elected members. It is also the most
comprehensive European parliamentary forum, today with delegations from 47 national
parliaments (plus 3 delegations holding observer status).
The Assembly consists of 318 elected
representatives (and an equal number of substitutes) from the Member States of
the Council of Europe. The number of representatives from each country varies
from eighteen to two depending on its population.
They must be elected or appointed from among the members of their national or
federal Parliament. The balance of political parties within each national
delegation must ensure a fair representation of the political parties or groups
in the respective parliaments.
At present, the Assembly counts five political
groups: the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP/CD); the Socialist Group
(SOC); the European Democrat Group (EDG); the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats
for Europe (ALDE); and the Group of the Unified European Left (UEL). Political
groups have to commit themselves to respect the promotion of the values of the
Council of Europe, notably political pluralism, human rights and the rule of
The President of the Assembly and the leaders
of the groups form the Presidential Committee of the PACE.
The President, twenty Vice-Presidents, the
Chairpersons of the political groups or their representatives as well as the
Chairpersons of the general PACE Committees or their substitutes make up the
Bureau of the Assembly.
The Standing Committee consists of the Bureau
and the Chairpersons of national delegations. It is generally convened at least
twice a year and its major task is to act on behalf of the Assembly when the
latter is not in session.
The Assembly Committees are composed of
representatives or substitutes of the Assembly. They are reconstituted in
January of each year, and elect their chairperson and three vice-chairpersons.
At present, the Assembly has 8 committees with
the following memberships:
- Political Affairs and Democracy (84 seats)
- Legal Affairs and Human Rights (84 seats)
- Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development (84 seats)
- Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons (84 seats)
- Culture, Science, Education and Media (84 seats)
- Equality and Non-Discrimination (84 seats)
- Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by member states of the Council of Europe, or Monitoring Committee (84 seats)
- Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs (37 seats)
The Bureau was established in 1991 as a unit of
the Chancellery of the Sejm – an institution responsible for all administrative
and organisational aspects of the Sejm’s activities.
The scope of research areas covered by BAS is
wide and ranges from constitutional and legal matters, budgetary issues, EU
policies and regulations, to variety of social and economic issues. BAS is not
a typical TA institute (entirely devoted to TA problems): so far, information
on new technologies in general and on technology assessment in particular,
represent a small fraction in the scope of BAS’ portfolio. However, as the
significance of new technologies is more apparent and awareness of their
societal and environmental consequences is growing, one can expect that also
the Sejm’s interest in TA will gradually increase bringing about a greater BAS
involvement in TA research.
GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency in
the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government – that is, it works for
the U.S. Congress. Often called the "congressional watchdog", GAO investigates
how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars and helps improve the
performance of the federal government. GAO provides Congress with timely
information that is objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, non-ideological, fair,
and balanced. All types of work at GAO are conducted under strict professional
standards of review and referencing, and all facts and analyses in GAO work are
thoroughly checked for accuracy. Types of GAO work include:
- Technology assessments that provide
a thorough and balanced analysis of primary, secondary, indirect, and delayed
consequences or impacts of a technological innovation on society, the
environment, or the economy;
- Performance audits that evaluate how
well government programmes and policies are working, and which may contain
recommendations for executive branch agencies to act upon;
- Financial audits that provide an
independent assessment of whether an entity’s reported financial information
(e.g. financial condition, results, and use of resources) are presented fairly
in accordance with recognized criteria;
- Legal decisions and opinions, such
as deciding bid protests.
(c) EPTA, provided by ITA; version 01/2017