VAST - Comitato per la Valutazione delle Scelte Scientifiche
In Italy's Houses of Parliament (Camera dei Deputati) the parliamentary technology
assessment body, VAST (an acronym for Comitato per la Valutazione delle Scelte
Scientifiche e Tecnologiche) was established in 1997 1997, re-established by the Bureau of the Chamber in the 15th Parliament on 1st August 2006, and in the 16th Parliament on 12nd June 2008.
The VAST is chaired by the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. It consists of 11 MPs representing all groups and of the Secretary General of the Chamber of Deputies.
VAST is responsible for co-ordinating Parliamentary initiatives and activities
related to scientific research and technology application. The VAST takes part
in international interparliamentary initiatives related to space, within the
European Interparliamentary Space Conference.
Activities of the Committee(2001-2008)
The Vast Committee’s activities can be separated into three main strands: (i) meetings and hearings with representatives of technological organisms and institutes; (ii) the holding of seminars that are also open to invited members of the public and bring together experts and renowned scientists, members of Parliament and Government representatives; (iii) participation in interparliamentary activities (EPTA for technology assessment and EISC for the discussion of European space policies) and in international conferences on specific themes.
During the 14th Parliament (from 30 May 2001 to 27 April 2006), the Committee organized nine one-day seminars, held in the premises of the Chamber of Deputies, on themes of particular relevance to scientific and technological development. Authoritative exponents from the world of science, institutions of state and private enterprise participated in the seminars for an exchange of views with Parliament and Government.
The transcripts of the seminars were published on the website of the Chamber of Deputies and then printed in book form as part of a volume set of the Meetings and Conferences of the Chamber of Deputies. The most recent three were also broadcast on the Chamber of Deputies satellite channel.
The seminars were conceived as a way of spreading awareness of the state of progress of new technologies and the problems associated with the governance of scientific sectors. In line with the aspirations for a knowledge economy and technological excellence articulated in the Barcelona Memorandum of the European Union, the seminars organized by VAST are an indispensable part of the task of parliamentary examination, by which we refer to all the preliminary fact-finding work, which is at its most intense at the Parliamentary Committee stage, to obtain the elements necessary for evaluating and making political decisions.
Several otherwise disparate fields such as transport, space polices, information technology, industrial districts, nuclear energy, statistical analysis of the hidden economy, and the current state of scientific research share the distinction of being at the centre of public debate. In considering these various topics, the seminars have also explored the relationship between technical options and political competence. They have paved the way to communications between the technical and political spheres by making the language of technology amenable to the language of politics, which ensures that the repercussions of technological choices on the economy and the fabric of society remain in evidence.
In 2007, during the 15th Parliament (from 28 April 2006 to 28 April 2008), the Commettee for the evaluation of scientific and technological options (VAST) held the Chairmanship of the 9th European Interparliamentary Space Conference (EISC).
The activity programme for 2007 included two international events (a workshop in Frascati and the 9th EISC Conference in Rome) and several national initiatives organized in our Parliament (five thematic seminars open to the general public and the press), some of which were related to topics of international interest and will be attended by distinguished foreign personalities.
The topic was the relation between the European Space Policy and its impact on the life of citizens and on enterprises, as well as on the public administration.
The two-day Conference had been divided into four different sessions: effective use of space applications and services; the state of the art of joint EU-ESA projects; new aspects of competition in a global market of space activities; the Parliamentary point of view. A final resolution was approved at the end of the Conference.
The activities carried out to date clearly suggest that a necessary preliminary to finding the answers to these questions is to ensure that deliberating authorities, first among which is Parliament, are fully versed in social and economic realities, so that they may be proficient at understanding the consequences of new technologies. Parliament's interpretative capacities must also be sufficiently cogent for it to be able to consider the full range of current issues and to project a vision of the future benefits accruing from certain technologies, towards which is should therefore channel investment. Parliament must be able to pick out the general contour lines of development and target its intervention accordingly, rather than limiting itself to the examination of isolated areas or specific projects without a general coordinating framework. A major and evident problem is the measured pace of the decision-making process, which has to contend with a fast growing and often uncontainable demand that nonetheless has to be brought to order and given direction if the system is not to collapse.
The seminars held during the 14th Parliament are the followings:
“Prospects for nuclear energy in Italy” http://vast.camera.it/30/31/192/217/218/scheda_seminario.asp
“Statistical models to assess hidden economy” http://vast.camera.it/30/31/192/208/209/scheda_seminario.asp
“Italian Space Industrial Policy and Research within the framework of the European Space Policy” http://vast.camera.it/30/31/192/193/194/scheda_seminario.asp
“Italian prospects in the field of space policy after the White Paper of the EU Commission on the European Space Policy” http://vast.camera.it/30/31/179/180/181/scheda_seminario.asp
“Industrial districts and technological innovation” http://vast.camera.it/30/31/140/161/162/scheda_seminario.asp
“Innovation challenges and industrial policy choices in Information Technologies” http://vast.camera.it/30/31/140/151/152/scheda_seminario.asp
“Italian policy for the outer space: the Green Paper of the EU Commission on the European Space Policy” http://vast.camera.it/30/31/140/141/142/scheda_seminario.asp
“Institutions, industry and scientific research: an agreement for the future of Italy” http://vast.camera.it/30/31/58/89/119/scheda_seminario.asp
“Introduction of new technologies and development of the transport system to support production activities” http://vast.camera.it/30/31/58/88/90/scheda_seminario.asp
The seminars held during the 15th Parliament are the followings:
“Perspectives of spatial applications for society and enterprises” http://www.camera.it/eisc2007/inglese/62/76/schedabase.asp
“Space as a strategic asset: Europe's access to space and the dual utilization of space for defence and security” http://www.camera.it/eisc2007/inglese/62/74/schedabase.asp
“Prospects of the use of European space projects for territory, citizens and companies” http://www.camera.it/eisc2007/inglese/62/78/schedabase.asp
“Perspectives of Europe's space policy” http://www.camera.it/eisc2007/inglese/62/118/schedabase.asp
“Space exploration: the role of Europe” http://www.camera.it/eisc2007/inglese/62/182/schedabase.asp
The workshop held during the 15th Parliament is the followings:
“Prospects of the use of European space projects for territory, citizens and companies” http://www.camera.it/eisc2007/inglese/66/schedabase.asp
The two-day EISC Conference http://www.camera.it/eisc2007/inglese/67/schedabase.asp
Activities of the Committee for the evaluation of scientific and technological options (VAST) in the 16th Parliament http://vast16.camera.it/
List all projects
The VAST Committee is chaired by the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Rt. Hon. Gianfranco Fini.
Secretariat: Dr. Elisabetta Mirra
Tel: +39 06 67603047
Fax: +39 06 67602753