chapter  5
6 Pages

Observations on the Practical Difficulties of Technology Assessment

ByJoe E. Armstrong, Willis W. Harman

In the early years of supporting exploratory technology assessment (TA) work, National Science Foundation adopted a deliberate policy of declining to give guidance concerning an assessment's precise scope and definition. This policy was intended to encourage wide latitude and innovation and was arguably appropriate for developing a new process. Leaders and members of the assessment teams were virtually unanimous in stating that they had found the TA methodological literature to be of little or no relevance to their specific projects. Insofar as the concept of TA was originally aimed at helping policymakers choose among policy options, it is ironic that policy analysis is typically the weakest aspect of the assessment. Both the composition of assessment teams and the procedures for fostering cooperation and teamwork among members varied a great deal in the TA's surveyed. Everyone agrees that a TA should take into account all "significant" stakeholder viewpoints and make a balanced, unbiased presentation of those viewpoints.