Comparative Table of Parliamentary TA Institutions
GERMANY - OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT AT THE GERMAN BUNDESTAG
It is far from easy to assess the direct impact that TA
and related forms of scientific policy advice have on decision making.
On the one hand the general rule applies, that proposed pieces of
legislation never quote the sources of information by which they may be
inspired. On the other hand, TA is only one of a multitude of voices
that influence the decision making process. Because of the lack of
direct evidence one has to rely on more indirect means to assess
utilization and usefulness of TA »products« to the »customer«, the
The first and maybe the most important criterion is the
satisfaction of the Members of Parliament, which may be expressed
openly in parliamentary debates or in more informal ways including face
to face conversations. In fact TAB has fared quite well in this respect
and there are numerous examples of MP´s highlighting their praise of
A second one is the frequency of the occasions where Parliament
in plenary debates and in Committee meetings deals with TAB-reports.
The number of Committees that put TAB-reports on their agenda has
indeed increased constantly in recent years. To a somewhat lesser
extent the same holds true also for plenary debates, which documents
the continuous practice of Parliament to consult technology assessment
in complex scientific and technological issues.
Another indicator of how well received TAB´s advice is, is the
demand for new TAB-studies, which continuously exceeds the capacity by
a wide margin. For example, during a recent procedure of finding new
topics, Parliament came up with close to 70 suggestions for new topics
of which only 12 could be taken up because of capacity limitations.
And last but not least also the resonance in the media and the
general public as well as the demand for electronic and printed
versions of TAB products is an indication that TAB´s work is very well
known and well received by many societal groups, may it be trade
associations, NGOs, scientific and educational institutions, federal
and regional ministries or others.
All in all, the interest in TAB´s activities both by expert
audiences and the general public has stabilised on a high level. Even
though TAB does not engage in intensive press and public relation
activities, the resonance in the press and electronic media is very
favourable and the TAB-staff is frequently asked for interviews or