Comparative Table of Parliamentary TA Institutions
Work Procedures and Methods
The Parliament of Catalonia has developed an awareness of the fact that
in the age we live in, parliaments are not familiar with what is the
most suitable way to provide support to scientific and technical
innovations, and oftentimes they do not realise all the implications
posed by the current scientific and technical revolution.
In this sense, CAPCIT has the following goals:
The principle for all actions undertaken by CAPCIT is founded on
fostering diversity in opinion and scientific and technical
alternatives in order to ensure the consultancy provided is neutral,
objective and independent.
- Contributing to the improvement of
the scientific and technical knowledge of the Parliament and
disseminating it among Catalan society.
participation from the main scientific and technical institutions when
it comes to shaping the will of the Parliament in these spheres.
with institutions, bodies, professional associations, universities and
other organisations and institutes that operate in the fields of
science and technology as well as coordinating with them.
- Promoting shared responsibility with regard to public science and technology policies.
DBT conducts technology assessments with a view
to generating debate and clarification among the target groups – these being
politicians, industry, NGOs, experts, citizens, etc. – depending on the issue
at stake. This also includes groups in society which do not necessarily already
see the need of debating technology.
To assess the functionality of actual
technologies is not the task of DBT. Instead the focus must be on opportunities
for and impacts on people, the environment and social conditions. The objective
is to clarify dilemmas and conflicts. This does not always mean that technology
assessments have to conclude in recommendations for a solution; technology
assessments may provide knowledge, identify joint views, conflicts and options
as a step towards finding a solution.
DBT draws on the best available expertise – in
the widest sense – and often across professions and sectors. Expertise may be
found among the traditional academia, but it may also be found among
stakeholders, users, consumers, and lay people. This wide concept of expertise
ensures that many types of knowledge and different values and interests are
represented in the assessments.
DBT considers it an essential task to contribute to the development of
methods for assessing technology, especially in connection with methods
involving the citizens, users and employees - those affected by the
technology in question. DBT applies different methods for assessing
- Experts may conduct analyses which offer an overview of the issues.
If experts are requested to make assessments, DBT normally makes
certain to consult several experts with different approaches, possibly
by establishing an interdisciplinary working group.
- Citizens may formulate objectives, visions, requirements and needs.
This can be facilitated by having participants criticize existing
conditions and formulate visions and actions which could help solving
problems. Or, a panel of citizens might question a panel
experts at a conference and prepare a final document presenting
requirements and formulating objectives for the applications of a
technology. Scenario workshops and consensus conferences are examples
of such methods.
- Technology assessment may also present information to the
participants to give them an opportunity to debate an issue, thereby
providing them with a background for making their own assessments.
Thus, education of the general public could be considered a method of
promoting the populationÂ´s own opportunities for assessing technology.
The 2011 work plan of DBT includes the following issues on which projects are initiated:
Besides, DBT is working on externally financed projects, for example:
- Energy producing buildings
- CitizensÂ´ engagement in energy supply and consumption
- Harmful chemicals
- Denmark as a pioneering country - responsible innovation
- Long range waste management strategy - from waste to resource
- Privacy protection in the "Internet of things"
- PACITA - EU project aiming at capacity building on TA in Europe. DBT is coordinating the project
- DESSI - development of a decision support system on security investments. EU project, DBT as coordinator.
- 5 simultaneous Citizen Summits on the future health care system, arranged together with the 5 regions in Denmark.
- A Citizen Summit on the Danish biodiversity action plan, arranged with the Ministry of Environment
- Involvement of employees in welfare technology innovation - made for the Danish Welfare Fund.
- BaltCICA - involvement of stakeholders and citizens in
strategizing on increased water levels. EU project, involving the
countries around the Baltic Sea.
STOA's mission is fulfilled with generally recognized success through:
The STOA Secretariat executes the decisions of the Panel with the
assistance of external contractors who are selected based on the
expertise needed by STOA and the financial regulation of the EU
- Projects ranging over several S&T areas and executed by
eminent scientific institutions, which provide the MEPs and the
parliamentary committees with insights into medium to long-term,
complex interdisciplinary issues related to the impact of S&T
developments on society. The methodology traditionally applied to STOA
studies has been that of Technology Assessment. STOA has recently expanded its science-advice toolkit to include an internally developed Scientific Foresight approach for the European Parliament.
Several projects, in the fields of Information and Communication
Technologies (ICT), sustainable energy sources and future energy
scenarios, alternative transport technologies and the future of
European transport, sustainable management of natural resources,
converging technologies and human enhancement, nanotechnology, life
sciences for human well-being and intellectual property rights, were
concluded and the respective studies were published in recent years.
- Events, such as conferences, seminars and workshops organised by
STOA, alone or in collaboration with other organisations, fostering a
closer interaction between policy-makers, scientists and society in its
Among these, the Annual Lecture, the
high-level STOA annual event, is an opportunity for MEPs and other
guests to listen to renowned scientists and experts, often Nobel Prize
winners, speaking on topics of political relevance. For instance, in 2009 the event hosted Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. The 2012
edition of the Annual Lecture featured Peter Higgs and Francois
Englert, laureates of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physics, speaking about
recent developments in Elementary Particle Physics at CERN. Ismail
Serageldin, Director of the Library of Alexandria and former World Bank
Vice-President for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable
Development, Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European
Environment Agency, and Monica Kircher, CEO of Infineon Technologies
Austria AG, spoke in 2013 on ˜Sustaining sustainability: making economics work for the global environment. In 2014 Thomas Sdhof, Nobel Prize in Medicine 2013, spoke about his research on the brain. The 2015
event entitled 'A discovery tour in the world of quantum optics'
featured Serge Haroche, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics.
- Enhancing mutual understanding and establishing long-term cooperation between scientists and policy-makers by organising the MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme.
STOA is currently running the 5th edition of this project. It will be
launched on 8 November 2016 during a 'Science Meets Parliaments' event
STOA co-organises with the European Commissions' Joint Research Centre
- The participation of STOA, beyond the premises of the EP, in key
events at the European and global level, such as the EuroScience Open
Forum (ESOF), the World Science Forum (WSF), the Science and Technology
in Society (STS) forum in Kyoto, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)
and BioVision the World Life Sciences Forum in Lyon.
active role STOA has continued to play within the European
Parliamentary Technology Assessment (EPTA) network, contributing to the
consolidation and further development of Parliamentary Technology
Assessment (PTA), as part of a democratic governance culture.
STOA's external contractors can be research institutes, universities,
laboratories, consultancies or individual researchers contracted to
help prepare specific projects. In 2014 STOA signed new framework
contracts with expert consortia covering the delivery of technological
and scientific expertise in a broad range of areas, valid until 2018.
Once the projects are completed, but also when important interim
results are obtained or when current events render some subjects
politically interesting, STOA approaches the relevant committees and
organises presentations by the experts. Similar presentations are also
regularly organised in the context of the STOA Panel meetings.
It is important that the tasks with which the
Committee has been entrusted have from the very beginning included methods of
futures research. This will continue to be the foundation of high-quality
futures work. In particular, at the beginning of each parliamentary term the
new Committee must be given training to familiarize it with good work methods.
Deliberation of so-called own matters in a
plenary session, as a topical debate on the basis of reports, is problematic,
but so far the only way. A right to draft a report concerning own matters,
along the lines of the model that applies to the Audit Committee, would
strengthen deliberation as a normal plenary session matter. Another method that
has been proposed is one in which the Committee would present joint long-term
parliamentary initiatives, but this would blur the significance of both the
Committee and the initiative institution.
The Prime Minister as the corresponding
minister is the most appropriate choice. In accordance with the idea on which
the Committee is founded, the broad scope of its tasks and a high level of
Government-Parliament dialogue, the cabinet member with foremost responsibility
must ultimately be the Prime Minister. Moreover the Prime Minister also chairs
the Research and Innovation Council which facilitates again a broad dialogue.
Once during its term of office, the Government
issues a report on long-term future prospects and the Government’s targets. In
accordance with the political system, it is the Prime Minister who chooses the
theme. In order to promote regional debate, regional Future Forums are
organised jointly by the Prime Minister’s Office and Parliament on the subject
matters of the report.
It would now appear to be the time for broad
handling that covers a wide spectrum of sectors, for horizontal processing
rather than special themes the Committee should once in a parliamentary term
conduct a general exploration of the state of Finland and the related scenarios and/or futures map.
The Committee’s intention during this
parliamentary term is to create a pool of professor-level experts
both from the Finland Futures Research Centre (which is an auxiliary unit of
the Turku University) and other universities too. This university network is
destined to provide assistance in conducting studies, and also to strengthen
ties to the world of science
An increasing number of Regional Meetings have
been arranged both with the Committee on its own and together with the
corresponding ministry, i.e. the Prime Minister’s Office. It participated successfully
for four weeks in an open popular discourse on an education theme on the
Internet. Systematic hearings to elicit the views of citizens would be
important, but require a lot of resources. The Committee will support and
participate if the Parliament makes a policy decision to hear the views of
citizens on, for example, important major legislative projects. Modern media is
used as much as possible. This development is intended to be continued. It will
be possible to arrange new kinds of citizen involvement.
The Committee for the Future is not one of the
most desired committees after a general election, but it has proved itself to
be a good vantage point from which to follow changes in the world. A
considerable proportion of ministers have been members of the Committee. In the
period 2003–2007 the Committee’s chair, Representative Katainen, was elected as
the leader of the biggest opposition party, the National Coalition, and became
Minister of Finance after the election. The Committee’s report "A Caring,
Encouraging and Creative Finland", which appraised the information society, was
incorporated, almost complete with name, into the Programme for Government.
After the spring 2011 general election, Mr Katainen took the prime ministership.
There are many other ex-Future-MPs in the new Government, even two other party
leaders: Minister of Finance and chair of Social Democratic Party, Mrs Urpilainen,
being one of the most important ones and Minister of Interior, chair of Christian
Party, Mrs PÃ¤ivi RÃ¤sÃ¤nen.
has conducted research in a broad area of topics and issues related to
a variety of technologies, from biotechnologies, through mobility
technologies, energy technologies, information and communication
technologies as well as nanotechnologies, and fertility technologies.
The institute has applied a broad range of analytical and participatory
methods and approaches: explorative survey studies, parliamentary
hearings, theatre plays, essays, interviews with experts and
stakeholders, retrospective trend analyses, consensus conferences,
public forums, citizen conventions, technology festivals, didactical
packages for scholars, among others.
THE APPOINTMENT OF A RAPPORTEUR
Any matter referred to the OPECST leads to the appointment of one or
more rapporteurs, exclusively selected amongst the members of the
OPECST. Several study programmes have brought together an MP and a
THE FEASABILITY STUDY
Once appointed, the rapporteur first makes a feasibility study. This
study aims at providing a snapshot of knowledge on the topic,
determining possible research avenues, appreciating the possibilities
of obtaining relevant results in the required time period and, last,
determining the necessary means to start a study programme. The
rapporteur then submits the conclusions of his feasibility study
together with methodological remarks to the members of the OPECST. At
that stage, he suggests either that the study should be closed, (this
happens very rarely), or he proposes to modify the extent of the study
(a study first dealing with biofuels was thus extended to prospects for
development of non food agricultural products), or, much more
frequently a study programme is set up that leads to the drawing?up of
THE DRAFTING OF A REPORT
The rapporteur then goes ahead with hearings enabling him to gather,
without exclusion, all opinions from concerned persons and
organisations. He may also travel in France or abroad in order to
inspect installations and firms connected with his work. Throughout his
study, the rapporteur is assisted by a parliamentary civil servant and,
if need be, by a study group made up of specialists from outside
Parliament. He may also hire French or foreign free?lance experts and
consultants for further investigation into specific items. He may
likewise gather the opinions of trade unions, professional bodies, and
organisations for the protection of the environment or consumer
defence. However, the OPECST reports are not restricted to setting out
the expertsÂ´ points of view. Their conclusions are the work of
Parliamentarians and may go beyond merely informing, by including
suggestions and recommendations. If the rapporteur deems it necessary,
public hearings, open to the press, are organised to gather and
confront the opinions of leading figures and organisations wishing to
express themselves on the subject in discussion. The minutes of these
hearings may then be annexed to the report.
THE RAPPORTEURSÂ´ POWERS
The OPECST rapporteur have identical powers to financial rapporteurs:
they may therefore carry out direct investigations on any State Agency
and have access to any available document, with the exception of those
dealing with military matters or State security. In addition, in the
event of difficulties encountered in exercising their mission, the
OPECST rapporteurs may request to be given the prerogatives granted to
parliamentary committees of inquiry.
THE PUBLICATION OF REPORTS
At the end of their work, the rapporteurs submit their draft report and
their conclusions to the members of the OPECST. These conclusions are
presented in such a way that they may be used directly for legislative
work or budgetary discussion. Members of the OPECST must decide whether
they publish these reports and all or part of the minutes of the
hearings and the contributions by the experts. In this respect, the
OPECSTÂ´s decisions are mostly unanimous and the consensus of its
decisions is one of the OPECSTÂ´s main features.
The documents from the OPECST, which make up a special collection
within all the parliamentary reports, are on sale at the "Boutique de
lÂ´AssemblÃ©e Nationale", at the "Espace Librairie du SÃ©nat" and at the
Journal officiel, and are available on each Assembly website. Since its
creation, the OPECST has published more than 90 reports.
After decision by the Committee,
TAB is responsible for scientific and organisational implementation of
the TA studies. The project team begins with intensive research and
consultations with experts on relevant research issues and findings.
These also help in exploring opposing scientific opinions and
controversial positions by various interest groups. For central issues
defined for a study, TAB makes recommendations to the Committee on
expertise to be commissioned from external experts or scientific
institutions. Cooperation with such external experts and their reports
is a central element of project work.
Over the entire term of the project, the team monitors and
analyses the ongoing scientific debates and related public and
political discussions. Particularly when interim findings are at hand,
workshops and expert meetings are organised to bring together
scientific experts and Members of Parliament. Representatives of
societal groups are frequently included. This also aims to promote
communication between science, society and German Bundestag and the
transfer of knowledge and opinions, even before completion of a
project. The results of all activities are summarised by TAB, and the
project is concluded with a final report.
TA PROJECTS AND MONITORING ACTIVITIES
TA projects and
monitoring activities are central working areas for TAB. These areas
have proved ideal, particularly as a means of channelling the numerous
requests for topics received from the expert committees and
parliamentary political parties into analytical processes suitable for
the purposes of German Bundestag.
- TA projects deal with complex issues of science and
technology. Such projects apply a comprehensive, interdisciplinary
approach and a long-term perspective (e.g. nanotechnology, synthetic
biology, and modern power grids).
- Monitoring activities consider selected aspects of developments in
science, technology and society (e.g. regulation, innovation,
experience made in other countries). Their thematic focus makes them
particularly suitable for current issues. They are also helpful in
identifying and determining the exact content of future and more
comprehensive assessments. Finally, they contribute to strengthening
the core competences of TAB in important areas (e.g. themes such as
sustainable energy supply, acceptance of new technologies, eLearning,
genetic diagnostics and gene therapy).
FUTURE REPORTS, POLICY BENCHMARKING AND INNOVATION REPORTS
These analytical approaches - for which the cooperation partner
Fraunhofer-Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) holds
lead responsibility - are used to open up specific additional
- Future reports are intended to identify technological fields
with relatively medium and long-term relevance which are expected to
require parliamentary action. Among other things, this enhances the
CommitteeÂ´s opportunities to put issues on the political agenda at an
- Policy benchmarking uses international comparative studies of
policy approaches in other countries and political options for action
being debated there, to contribute to the CommitteeÂ´s ability to assess
solutions in various countries and areas of technology.
- Innovation reports are intended to review current innovations in
areas characterised by particularly rapid development, a high degree of
sensitivity and a low level of empirical information.
The Committee, after
the topics are decided, organises meetings once or twice every month where the
MPs are informed by invited experts on various themes.
- the Ministry of Education and the
- the Educational Institutions and
- Entrepreneurs who invest in research
- Visits to research centres and
educational institutions in Greece and abroad are organised.
- The cooperation with similar
committees of parliaments of other countries, EU and other international
agencies, organisations, institutes and research centres is encouraged.
- Cooperation with other committees of
the Hellenic Parliament and particularly the Environment Committee with which
they have joint meetings when common issues occur.
POLITICAL OPINION FORMING
The Rathenau Instituut assists in the process
of political opinion forming through direct contact with both Houses of the
Dutch parliament and the European Parliament. Its staff is called as expert
witnesses at formal hearings and organise or take part in round table discussions
and expert meetings. The Rathenau Instituut also strives to ensure that all
reports and other products are relevant and accessible to decision-makers at
Supporting policy making
and public debate
Researchers of the Rathenau Instituut often
meet with policymakers to bring findings to their attention and to make sure
that the developments are given a place on the political agenda. The Institute
also promotes general discussion of the research topics, making an active
contribution to the public debate. Rathenau Instituut experts are regular
contributors to the national media and the Institute takes every opportunity to
publicize its work at festivals, conferences and debates. The Rathenau Instituut
publishes a newsletter and makes full use of digital technology, including
social media, in engaging NGOs, stakeholder groups and the general public.
Good methodology is essential to the quality of
the work delivered by the Rathenau Instituut. All its activities are based on
highly diverse analytical and communicative methods, such as focus groups,
citizen panels, statistics, database analysis, questionnaires, interviews,
visualisations, debates and presentations. For each project the methods that
lend themselves best to realising objectives are carefully considered. If
required, new methods are developed which are hopefully suitable for several
To bring science dynamics and international
comparisons into focus, the Rathenau Instituut has developed expertise in the
domain of scientometrics. It works on social network analysis methods to map
science and technology networks, and conducts agent-based modelling pilots
whose purpose is to stimulate complicated policy problems, making use of
methods and techniques also used for "horizon scanning" and "foresight" among
other things. In addition, it reflects on information visualisation, for
instance in graphics, diagrams, networks and photos.
Norwegian Board of Technology employs a range of different methods in
our projects, where these five are considered primary methods: expert
groups, consensus conferences, scenario workshops, focus groups and
open hearings. These methods are flexible and can be adapted for each
The NBT expert groups are always broadly
constituted. The participants originate from different institutions and
areas of learning, and usually vary in their professional association
with the given topic. An expert group is used to illuminate a current
topic, give advice or provide policy options. The participants are
chosen based on their academic expertise or practical experience in the
An expert group will usually meet 6-8 times during a project,
with 4-12 months typically elapsing between the first and last
meetings. A project manager from the NBT will lead the process and do
most of the writing and organizing. The Board members will be briefed
on the work, but the making of conclusions and recommendation in a
specific project is normally delegated to the expert group.
CONSENSUS CONFERENCES AND CITIZEN PANELS
conference is an exercise in practical democracy, and involves those
who seldom have a forum where they can be heard. The participants take
part by virtue of being socially aware citizens. They should not be
experts on the topic under discussion, nor should they have prominent
positions in organized interest groups that are affected by the given
Citizens can contribute knowledge and perspectives that experts
normally do not bring to the table. We are all non-experts in most
areas of life, but we also have experiences and values that we can use
to assess new information.
The NBT has also used and contributed to the development of other
participatory methods such as different citizen panels and citizen
Discussion and the exchange of experiences
are the core elements of a scenario workshop. The discussions circle
around a set of scenarios that are portraits of alternative futures in
a given topic. The scenarios may be presented as a movie, lecture,
document or some other form. The purpose of the scenarios is to make
the participants conscious of future choices involving technology, and
encourage them to make critical assessments. Developing new visions and
proposals for action may also be a part of the process.
A focus group is a type of structured group
interview. The goal is that conversations conducted in a group of 7 to
10 individuals will bring to light more information than by
interviewing participants individually. The participants in a focus
group have special knowledge about or experience with a given topic.
The focus groupÂ´s topic is limited in scope and determined by
the interviewer. It is nonetheless important that the discussions are
open enough for the participants to exchange experiences and comment
upon each otherÂ´s viewpoints. Herein lays a part of this methodÂ´s
strength: the conversations and interaction within the group can bring
to light more information than by interviewing the group members one by
During a hearing, individuals or institutions can
give input to a work in progress. Hearings may either transpire in
public with prepared papers dealing with key questions or
recommendations, or in round-table hearings with plenary discussions.
The participants are usually either experts in their respective fields,
decisions-makers or representatives of affected interest groups who we
believe have special knowledge about the topic.
Prior to a hearing, the Board of Technology has usually done
some preparatory work on the topic. As a rule, an expert group has
elaborated a set of key questions or preliminary recommendations, which
the participants at the hearing should comment upon.
the TA projects start at the beginning of the year and the report is
finalised and released at the end of the year in connection with the
budget debate. A seminar is often held initially with different experts
in order to involve MPs and to present the state of the art in the
field. The presentations and discussions are summarised and
communicated to the MPs via the intranet of the Parliament.
External experts are, whenever necessary, engaged to write
background material. An expert group is also formed with the task of
scrutinising the report with regard to its content and to ensure the
balance of different aspects. The expert group will also help to
formulate the conclusions of the study.
The parliamentary reference group discusses the final report
and the concluding remarks. In most cases, a public hearing is held at
the Riksdag when the report has been printed in order to both discuss
the content of the report and to supplement the content with other
aspects. The seminar is webcast and broadcast on television. These
seminars are also open to the public.
Most of the TA projects, so far, have been expert-based but
trials with public involvement have been carried out. Social media have
also been used in order to involve the public.
Some of the assignments from the committees have been inventory studies
in different scientific areas and these can be used in order to:
- Present the state of the art in a specific field
- List active researchers and research environments - this can be useful for the committees in forthcoming seminars and hearings
- Serve as inspiration for future TAs
Why technology assessment? This question was
discussed even before the establishment of TA-SWISS. An instance that poses
questions on new technologies in an impartial way is vital, and the following
criteria are still valid today: how do new technologies develop, what has to be
taken into account, how do they change everyday life in society and how might
future scenarios look like? Additionally, the public debate needs to be
encouraged today, too.
Politicians and citizens have to be supported
in their decision making process by comprehensible illustrations and
documentations of facts and circumstances. The results of TA-SWISS studies
provide the required basics, information and recommendations on selected
specialist fields. By contrast, the participative proceedings show how citizens
rate specific future oriented technologies and topics. It reveals the advantages
and disadvantages they ascribe to a certain technological development and it
documents the needs of the population, e.g. the need for more transparent
information or better protection. The discussions show where citizens see a
need for action. In these projects, citizens are the experts representing the
population at large. Studies as well as participative methods are employed by
TA-SWISS in order to give a comprehensive survey of the chances and risks of
new technologies and to favour a knowledge-based technology debate.
As the term "studies" anticipates: Studies are
often very extensive and complex. Therefore, TA-SWISS prepares abridged
versions of its technology assessment studies. The easily understandable
abbreviated versions are essential in communicating the results to politicians
and to an interested population. For the participative projects information
brochures are first compiled. These brochures brief the citizens involved in a
well-balanced way in order to familiarize them with the technological topic
that is to be discussed in the citizen debate. A synthesis report will then be
issued on the actual discussions. It will not only contain the results, but
also the different chains of reasoning showing what was supported and what was
criticized by the citizens and why. All these products are important for the
realization of the formulated objectives: to support the public debate and to
help politicians and citizens in making knowledge-based decisions.
Extensive public relation efforts are vital to
reach these target groups. TA-SWISS organises media conferences or publishes
articles to draw attention to its projects. Policy makers as well as the interested
public receive printed and electronic newsletters and are invited to public
presentations, workshops and debates on a regular basis. Politicians are
confronted with the projects in personal dialogues and in discussions, and
political groups, administrative authorities and expert groups are addressed by
presentations and provided with written information material.
All POST research is conducted
in-house by either its permanent staff or by one of its doctoral/post-doctoral
fellows. These fellowships are a distinctive feature of POST. They are funded
by many UK charitable scientific foundations, by learned societies, by most of
the UK’s Research Councils and by individual universities. Through them,
fellows spend usually three months at POST, working on one of its well-known "POSTnotes"
or assisting a parliamentary committee. Well over 100 such fellows have now
been at POST.
POST’s work lies heavily in the area
of "expert analysis" conducted by the staff and fellows but augmented by an
intense dialogue with outside individuals and organisations with a relevance to
the subject area.
POST has, however, pioneered various
methods of public engagement in the UK. It co-sponsored the first and second UK
national "consensus conferences" – on genetically modified foods and
radioactive waste management. A particular development was POST’s first-time
use of online consultations at the UK Parliament, developed in partnership with
committees during the course of an inquiry. POST has also organised public
consultation meetings held in the constituency of a Commons Board member.
2007, the House of Commons Public Administration Committee recommended that
POST should spearhead at the UK Parliament a greater focus on longer term
issues. In many ways such a focus has always permeated POST’s work, but, in
responding to the committee’s welcome recommendation, POST has put additional
effort into this area, often in collaboration with the UK government’s
Foresight and Horizon Scanning units.
a scientific TA institute, the ITA is largely committed to classical
TA, with its emphasis on expert orientations. Typical methods therefore
include interviews with experts, and literature and document searches.
The increasing integration of value-laden issues into TA projects is
also leading to the increased use of participatory methods in TA. The
ITA has taken note of and theoretically analysed this development, and
since 2007 has also been using participatory elements and methods in
its projects, ranging from focus groups and scenario workshops to
THE ASSEMBLYÂ´S PLENARY DEBATES
The annual sessions of the
Assembly are divided into four part-sessions, each lasting for about a
week at the end of January, April, June and the beginning of October.
The agenda for each part-session features debates on European and world
events, and on key matters requiring action at European level. The
AssemblyÂ´s plenary debates are held in public and they are conducted
according to the principles commonly observed in national parliaments.
ADOPTION OF TEXTS
The Assembly can adopt three different types of texts: recommendations, resolutions and opinions.
A two-thirds majority is required for questions such as a
recommendation or an opinion to the Committee of Ministers or the
adoption of urgent procedure. In respect of a resolution and any other
decision, a majority of the votes cast is required.
Recommendations, resolutions and opinions are published in a
provisional edition after their adoption. A final version is published
after each part-session in the official languages (English and French).
- Recommendations contain proposals addressed to the Committee of
Ministers, the implementation of which is within the competence of
- Resolutions embody decisions by the Assembly on questions, which it
is empowered to put into effect or expressions of view for which it
alone is responsible. Most often, they include proposals addressed to
national legislatures and European or international institutions.
- The Assembly mostly expresses opinions on questions or texts
presented by the Committee of Ministers (such as the admission of new
member states to the Council of Europe, draft conventions, or the
budget of the Organisation).
Committees meet most frequently either in
Strasbourg or Paris, possibly in Brussels when a joint meeting with a
body of the European Parliament is envisaged. Committee discussions are
generally held in camera, but the committee is free to admit anybody to
its meeting whom it wishes.
Although committees deal in particular with reports, they have
great freedom to discuss any matter within their competence when they
agree to do so. They organise hearings, colloquies or conferences on
particular subjects, the findings of which can then be used for the
preparation of reports to the Assembly.
DRAFTING OF REPORTS
In general, a motion for a recommendation
or resolution generates reports. This motion has to be tabled by at
least twenty representatives or substitutes belonging to at least five
national delegations. It is then referred to a committee for report and
possibly to other committees for opinion. The main committee then
appoints a rapporteur who drafts a report, into two parts:
Both parts are discussed in committee, but only the operational
part is voted on. When a report has been adopted in the committee it is
tabled for discussion by the Assembly either at a part-session or at a
meeting of the Standing Committee.
- the operational draft resolution, recommendation or opinion and
- the explanatory memorandum.
Methods applied by BAS analysts include mostly
desk study, interviews and consulting relevant sources of information. Methods
involving citizens or any other forms of public consultation are not used. The
most frequent outcome is a short information note (several pages) prepared
individually by an analyst (BAS prepares 50–100 such notes per month). More
profound analyses and reports are less frequent and they may be written
individually or by a group of analysts. Standard period for completing a typical
assignment is two weeks (much shorter in case of urgency), and one month for
more laborious reports.
the decision to begin work on a technology assessment is made, the
director of the assessment (the Chief Scientist or Chief Technologist)
assembles a multi-disciplinary team appropriate for the topic. At this
time, a production schedule is developed by the team that includes
estimates for job design, data collection, message development, report
drafting, report reviews, and report issuance. This schedule reflects
GAOÂ´s responsiveness to legislative timelines; our report production is
designed to enable issuance within 12 months of job initiation,
allowing the reports to be timely and useful to the Congress to support
legislative issues, congressional hearings, or testimonies.
GAO technology assessments conducted by CSTE use methodology
and data collection techniques that can consist of literature reviews;
interviews and document requests from federal agencies, academia,
industry, and other stakeholders; the use of groups of experts
assembled for GAO through a contract with the U.S. National Academies;
workshops, surveys, and focus groups; and analysis of the collected
data. Process controls include extensive indexing and referencing of
collected information that provide assurance that GAO findings,
conclusions, and recommendations are supported. Draft reports undergo
extensive review, both internal and external to GAO; internal
stakeholders throughout GAO provide input for technology assessments
through all phases of work and review the final product. GAO can use
external experts, such as groups of experts assembled by the National
Academies, to review the technology assessment draft report.
Furthermore, federal agencies that GAO gathered information from have
the opportunity to review the draft report and provide comments that
are incorporated in the final report.
(c) EPTA, provided by ITA; version 01/2017