On 29 January, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced the launch of a new Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics Team to better meet Congress’s growing need for information on science and technology issues.
The congressional watchdog agency has combined and enhanced its technology assessment functions and its S&T-related evaluation and audit programs into a single, more prominent office that will expand GAO’s support to lawmakers on cutting-edge topics, such as artificial intelligence, regenerative medicine, 5G wireless communication, and quantum computing.
In response to congressional guidance outlined in the conference report to the FY2019 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill, the new team will:
- Conduct technology assessments and provide technical assistance directly to Congress
- Audit science and technology programs in the federal government
- Compile and utilize best practices in the engineering sciences, including cost, schedule, and technology readiness assessment
- Establish an audit innovation lab to explore, pilot, and deploy new advanced analytic capabilities, information assurance auditing, and emerging technologies that are expected to greatly impact auditing practices
“I’m very proud of GAO’s efforts to keep policy-makers abreast of emerging opportunities, as well as challenges, in the science and technology fields,” said Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO. “The work of our science, technology assessment, and analytics team is designed to help Congress oversee the substantial federal investment in science and technology, enhance U.S. innovation and competitiveness, and consider the implications and potential policy options concerning emerging technologies.”
GAO Chief Scientist Timothy Persons and John Neumann, formerly a director on GAO’s Natural Resources and Environment audit team, will jointly manage the new office. Dr. Persons is an IEEE Senior Member. GAO plans to double the size of its current combined science and technology workforce over the next few years.
Last November, GAO also announced plans to beef up its cybersecurity oversight capabilities, including auditing of federal critical infrastructure, privacy and data security protection programs and acquisition management to explore how federal agencies are incorporating cybersecurity considerations into the early stages of their procurement lifecycles.
For more information on GAO’s new S&T Assessment and Analytics (STAA) team and their work products, go to: https://www.gao.gov/technology_and_science