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Mr. BENJAMIN. At this point we would also appreciate having the statement of Chairman Udall.
CHAIRMAN UDALL'S STATEMENT Mr. UDALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I will be brief. I have a four-page statement which is penetrating, logical, and persuasive.
Mr. BENJAMIN. As always.
It is my pleasure, as the new Chairman of the Technology Assessment Board, to appear today to present the fiscal year 1980 budget request for the Office of Technology Assessment.
REDUCED BUDGET REQUEST The request, in the amount of $11.2 million, was approved by the board last month, and is a downward modification of the request originally submitted by the office. The consensus of the board and we have a 12-man bipartisan bicameral board, six from each body and three from each party in each body-was that we were presented with an opportunity to confront the current national concern with inflation and government spending by approving a budget that would represent a constant, rather than increased, level of effort by OTA during fiscal year 1980. The $11.2 million request is equal to the obligation authority provided to the office for fiscal year 1979, which included carryover and supplemental authority. Likewise, as the justification of estimates demonstrates, no increase is requested in the number of authorized staff employees.
Our Director did want a small increase. The Board felt that we ought to hold the line on total staff.
We are confident that the authorization of this budget request will allow OTA to continue its fine record of producing high quality studies in a manner which is responsive to the needs of its many clients in the Congress.
DEVELOPMENT OF OTA-WORK PLANS Mr. Chairman, personally, during my tenure on the board and I have been there since the beginning-I have enjoyed watching OTA develop, in building this record, to the point where it is now on a decisive and effective course. After that difficult period in the life of any institution as it becomes established, our growing pains are beginning to subside. This progress is due in large part to the efforts of Senator Kennedy, who chaired during the last Congress, and Congressman Winn of Kansas, who was the Vice-Chairman during the last Congress, and I must also say-to the fine work of Director Peterson.
Mr. Chairman, the justification of estimates explains in some detail the specific projects which OTA is currently performing. It also describes some of the studies which the Director may present for approval to the board for startup later this year and in fiscal which fall within the capability of the Office, I would like to mention briefly two projects which I personally feel will be of utmost value to the interested committees and members of the Congress.
STUDY OF DISPOSAL OF NUCLEAR WASTE OTA recently began a study of disposal of nuclear waste. Although we are more than three decades into the nuclear age-we have had military and civilian programs now for three decadeswe have an ever-growing volume of high-level waste from weapons manufacture, and power plant operations which is almost all still in “temporary” storage. Not a single pound has yet been put in a permanent repository of any kind. So permanent isolation of the waste is essential. It is dangerous and it is long lasting, lasting up to 1 million years, with potent effects. Five different committees requested that study and another five have expressed interest in it. We are now assessing the state of the art of disposal of high-level radioactive waste generated by nuclear power plants, and we are investigating social and environmental aspects of the issue which are sometimes more narrowly focused.
The study is exploring such questions as: What steps are involved in selecting, evaluating and licensing potential waste repository sites?
What is involved in developing and managing a full-scale waste disposal system?
What is the role of State and local governments in management of nuclear wastes?
What additional research and development work is needed to demonstrate the ability to safely dispose of nuclear waste?
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STUDY OF CONSERVATION ISSUES IN HOME ENERGY USE The other study I would like to mention deals with conservation issues in home energy use, which is scheduled for completion very shortly. Before the 1973 oil embargo and the last two unusually severe winters, little attention was paid to future energy shortages. Since then, several Federal programs and regulatory initiatives have been designed to reduce residential energy consumption and increase the efficiency of home energy use.
In this assessment, OTA is studying the trends of energy use in residential buildings, the role of energy prices in encouraging conservation, and the opportunities for promoting energy savings in Federal housing programs. We are exploring the role of consumer attitudes and the problems of low-income homeowners. We are examining the effectiveness of Federal, State, and local conservation programs as well as the nationwide status of research and development in energy conservation and opportunities for technological advances.
In addition, the study will point out the consequences of reducing residential energy use. By improving the efficiency of home energy use, residents are protected against the full impact of rising prices, and substantial energy savings result. The study brings into focus Two other projects of interest to me and described in the justification of estimates deal with the feasibility and effects of using cost effectiveness techniques in allocating health resources and with an assessment of appropriate technologies as contributing to attaining domestic urban and rural community goals.
Mr. Chairman, I would be most happy to respond to any questions the subcommittee may have.
REDUCED BUDGET REQUEST Mr. BENJAMIN. Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the downward adjustment, which I assume results from your January 31 board meeting.
Mr. UDALL. Yes.
Mr. BENJAMIN. In this, it reflects that you are looking for the same budget authority that you had in this fiscal year.
I note that that includes a carryover which you mentioned--
In that respect, should that carryover be deducted in the $11.2 million?
Mr. UDALL. We don't want to deduct it from our budget, but I think if you are taking issue with my arithmetic, you are probably right.
Yes, the justification, it is not correct to say this is the same base level, because we did have that carryover.
Mr. BENJAMIN. That carryover, I believe, out of the $900,000 that was previously appropriated and allowed for carryover to OTA.
Mr. DE SIMONE. Yes.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Then Deputy Chairman Winn last year testified there would be no carryover from 1978 to 1979.
Can anyone explain if that is correct? Was he correct in his assessment?
Mr. DE SIMONE. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Winn was correct in his assessment. The carryover that we are talking about now, $758,000, is actually a carryover from fiscal year 1977. Mr. BENJAMIN. Yes.
Mr. DE SIMONE. So Mr. Winn was correct in stating that there would be no carryover of fiscal year 1978 funds.
USEFULNESS OF OTA REPORTS Mr. BENJAMIN. Let me ask you one last question, Mr. Chairman. You may not want to comment on it.
Within one of the recent national journals, there is a small quip by a member of your board, who is on the Senate side, who indicated that about 60 percent of OTA's work was needed and the rest was apparently not needed.
Would you have any comment on that?
Mr. UDALL. Yes, I would make a couple of comments. We are there to serve the committees and the members. We don't sit in the office and generate very many requests ourselves. That isn't the basic function. We were to be like the Library of Congress as the legal, factual backup for the Congress. The GAO is the investiga
there to serve Yes, I wounament on that?
the Congress. So while we try to keep abreast of ongoing technological problems, our main mission is to support the committees, support the members of Congress.
We have had some overruns in the past. We have probably made some mistakes. It took us 5 or 6 years with the new organization to get some procedures established, learn from our mistakes, and so on, but I would take sharp issue with the quotation you referred to.
Some of the members of our board in the other body have not been happy with everything the OTA has done, and some of them, frankly, have not been happy with everything the Director has done; but we had a good meeting last month. We aired all of these difficulties and problems. I thought the Director was very frank in responding to some of the criticisms that have been made and I thought he allayed the fears of those who felt that we were not on the right course. I think we are, and I intend to keep it that way.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Rudd. Mr. Rudd. I have no questions for the distinguished, very persuasive chairman.
Mr. UDALL. From one of the great States in the Union, where it never snows.
Mr. RUDD. Only in St. Johns. Mr. UDALL. We are thinking of a technological assessment of snow removal this week. We haven't had any requests on that yet. Mr. BENJAMIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. UDALL. All right, sir.
Thank you. We appreciate your kindness, and I am sorry to keep you waiting. That will not happen again.
Mr. BENJAMIN. No, we appreciate your being back up here as promptly as you were.
DIRECTOR PETERSON'S STATEMENT We will insert the statement of Dr. Peterson in the record at this time.
Mr. DE SIMONE. Certainly, Mr. Chairman.
As you know, due to weather conditions, he is unable to be with us today, but I am prepared to highlight his formal statement.
Mr. BENJAMIN. I am going to submit his full statement dated February 21, 1979.
OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT
FEBRUARY 21, 1979
MR. CHA IRMAN,
I AM PLEASED TO BE HERE TO PRESENT THE FISCAL YEAR 1980 BUDGET REQUEST OF THE OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT (OTA). THE INITIAL SUBMISSION OF OTA REQUESTED $12.5 MILLION FOR FISCAL YEAR 1980, PLUS TWENTY ADDITIONAL FULL-TIME STAFF PERSONNEL. AS THE CHAIRMAN STATED, OTA'S BOARD, AT ITS MEETING OF JANUARY 31, 1979, REVIEWED THIS REQUEST WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE OBJECTIVES OF THE OFFICE AND THE DESIRE OF CONGRESS TO REDUCE THE GROWTH OF GOVERNMENT, AND VOTED TO REDUCE OTA'S REQUEST TO $11.2 MILLION AND NO ADDITIONAL PERSONNEL. THIS KEEPS OTA AT THE SAME OPERATING LEVEL AS THE CURRENT FISCAL
MR. CHAIRMAN, I THEREFORE REQUEST THAT THESE REVISED PAGES FOR OUR BUDGET SUBMISSION, REFLECTING THE REDUCED BUDGET REQUEST, BE INCLUDED IN THE RECORD.
BEFORE DISCUSSING THE SUBSTANCE OF OUR FISCAL YEAR 1980 REQUEST, I WOULD LIKE TO SPEND A FEW MINUTES ON THE CHANGES