Readers of the WatchBlog know that GAO is more than financial audits. Our mission has grown over the years to include performance audits, bid protest adjudication, and other professional services for Congress.
And the federal government has also changed. From large IT projects to NASA’s space launch systems, government programs have increasingly encompassed more science and technology issues.
Today’s WatchBlog shares what the U.S. Comptroller General has done to build our in-house science and technology expertise.
Our Center for Science, Technology, and Engineering
GAO’s Center for Science, Technology, and Engineering houses our workforce of science and technology professionals. This includes people with backgrounds in physical sciences, engineering, biological sciences, IT, and operations research. Our Chief Scientist and Chief Technologist lead this Center.
Leading technology assessments
Our science and tech professionals have produced more than a dozen technology assessments. These assessments provide balanced analyses of the impact of technological innovations on
- the environment, and
- the economy.
For example, the team recently reported on water use in the energy sector—including fracking.
And last month, we issued another tech assessment on what municipal utilities can do to address freshwater scarcity—stay tuned for an in-depth look at that assessment later this week on the WatchBlog!
Our tech assessments also pay particular attention to unintended consequences and effects of technology. For example, our reports on 3D printing, nanotechnology’s movement into the manufacturing sector, and cybersecurity for critical infrastructure protection consider the strategic trends and the economic and policy implications of each technology.
Our team of scientists and engineers also assist GAO teams working on a range of issues. For example,
- A chemist provided key chemistry-related insights for our report on ocean acidification,
- An engineer provided key technology insights for our report on the safety aspects of vehicle-to-vehicle technologies, and
- A team of operations research analysts have written best practices guides for cost and schedule and routinely apply them to advanced space systems, such as the James Webb Space Telescope.
Science, technology, and engineering developments will continue to influence almost every aspect of our lives and our government. Meanwhile, GAO’s science and technology experts will continue to provide balanced and objective assessments of technologies in the context of important public policy issues.