Comparative Table of Parliamentary TA Institutions

POLAND - BUREAU OF RESEARCH 

BAS (in Polish: Biuro Analiz Sejmowych) supports parliamentary committees and individual deputies with information, analytical work and expert opinions on all subject matters that are debated by the Sejm (i.e. the first chamber of the Polish Parliament) in the course of legislative process.

INSTITUTIONALISATION

The Bureau was established in 1991 as a unit of the Chancellery of the Sejm – an institution responsible for all administrative and organisational aspects of the Sejm’s activities.

The scope of research areas covered by BAS is wide and ranges from constitutional and legal matters, budgetary issues, EU policies and regulations, to variety of social and economic issues. BAS is not a typical TA institute (entirely devoted to TA problems): so far, information on new technologies in general and on technology assessment in particular, represent a small fraction in the scope of BAS’ portfolio. However, as the significance of new technologies is more apparent and awareness of their societal and environmental consequences is growing, one can expect that also the Sejm’s interest in TA will gradually increase bringing about a greater BAS involvement in TA research.

ORGANISATION AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The main BAS responsibilities include: supporting the legislative process with an expert advice, providing deputies with information and expert opinions and conducting research (in the area of law, economy and society) related to the legislative process. The most expanding area of responsibilities during the last years is the European law and policies (e.g. BAS provides analyses of EU institutions and legislation, for example the Bureau verifies whether draft legislation proposed by deputies is in compliance with EU law). In cooperation with the Sejm committees BAS also organises conferences and seminars.

Currently BAS employs a total of 70 full-time analysts. As the structure of employment reflects the duties performed by the Bureau, the main group of employees are lawyers (45 experts in various law specialities). The rest includes some 15 economists and specialists in such fields as social science, agriculture or environment. BAS also cooperates with numerous representatives of science and with external experts. If, for various reasons, a commissioned work cannot be done within the Bureau, it is then contracted to the external experts.

The Bureau is composed of 6 departments:

Currently it is only the Social and Economic Analyses Department that deals with questions on new technologies and TA.

FINDING TOPICS

As a rule the research topics are chosen and commissioned either by parliamentary committees or by individual deputies. The majority of BAS’ work is done on request submitted by the two groups of clients. Apart from responding to the parliamentary requests BAS also – on its own initiative – carries out research and policy analysis on topics relevant to the current or forthcoming work of the Sejm. Then the research findings are presented in BAS publications (»INFOS« and »STUDIA BAS«). TA often appears as a component of those analyses.

WORK PROCEDURES AND METHODS

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.

TOPICS

Most TA work undertaken by BAS in recent years have been done in the following areas:

TARGET GROUPS

BAS works primarily for the parliamentary committees and MPs. Public participation projects or projects aimed at communication towards broader public have not been undertaken yet.

In previous years several parliamentary committees in the Sejm debated over subjects with an important TA component (e.g. GMO and biotechnology - Agriculture Committee; deployment of nuclear energy - Economy Committee; mitigation of CO2 emission - Environment Committee) but so far the TA as such has not been in a centre of parliamentary debate. Until recently there was no science and technology committee in the Sejm (such committees are usually the most effective bodies promoting development of parliamentary TA). This situation has changed with the establishment of new standing Committee for Innovation and New Technologies (October 2010). The Committee´s main field of interest is promotion of smart economic growth through widespread application of innovation and new technologies. The Committee´s agenda includes also some TA issues. One on the first joint projects undertaken by BAS in cooperation with the Committee for Innovation was a debate devoted to digital exclusion and financial services for generation 50+. Recently (January 2012), BAS on the request of the Committee organised a conference on innovativeness of Polish economy.

COMMUNICATION AND PUBLICATIONS

BAS does not publish its TA work in a separate series, TA analyses are usually included within general BAS publication lines, the main are: INFOS (short policy briefs) and STUDIA BAS (compilations of research papers analyzing various aspects of a given topic).

INFOS is a final outcome of a short term project lasting on average 1 to 3 months. They are concise in form and present a single topic related to issues of high relevance to parliamentary debate and/or legislative process. All INFOS papers have standard layout and stick to four-page format. They are published every two weeks, in accordance with the schedule of sittings of the Sejm (20-25 titles/issues a year).

The projects undertaken within STUDIA BAS series are more complex. They involve compiling a book consisting typically of 8-10 research papers devoted to various aspects of a given subject. They are often devoted to sectoral policies (e.g. energy policy, housing policy) or thematic clusters (eg. development of information society). Quite often they adopt comparative approach: comparing relevant data from different European and other countries. There are four issues yearly.

INFOS and STUDIA BAS series are devoted primarily to socio-economic issues, hence TA questions - if they are touched upon - are mostly analyzed in the context of societal and economic impacts. The authors are both BAS employees and selected external experts from leading Polish research institutions.

BAS publications come only in Polish (abstracts are available also in English). INFOS and STUDIA BAS are distributed free of charge to all MPs; additional copies can be picked-up at the BAS inquiry office at the Parliament premises. They are also available online at www.bas.sejm.gov.pl

IMPACT

All the commissioned work as well as BAS publications aim at supporting the legislative process with information and expert analysis. There is evidence they often serve the purpose. Some of the publications with strong TA component (e.g. on energy policy, innovation strategies) have influenced parliamentary debate and attracted media attention. Parliamentary TA and EPTA activities have recently been put on the agenda of the Committee for Innovations and New Technologies.

THE WAY AHEAD

In 2007 BAS became an associate member of EPTA network. This has created an opportunity to learn from and cooperate with more experienced TA institutions, and consequently to strengthen parliamentary TA capacity in Poland. BAS makes a constant effort to explain and promote the concept of TA among deputies. That´s why one of the INFOS was entirely devoted to TA theory and practice and its role in decision making. TA studies will continue to play important role in BAS publication lines.

It is hoped the new standing Committee for Innovations and New Technologies, as the main addressee of TA analyses, will help to stimulate further research and TA promotion in the Parliament. BAS is also keen to establish closer relations with academic institutions involved in TA studies in Poland.

CONTACT

Bureau of Research of the Chancellery of the Sejm
ul. Zagórna 3
00-441 Warsaw
Poland

Deputy Director: Dr Grzegorz Gołębiowski

Fon  +48 22 694 17 27
Fax  +48 22 694 18 65

www.bas.sejm.gov.pl/

Department of Social and Economic Research
Natural Resources Group

Mr Miroslaw Sobolewski

Fon        +48 22 694 10 65
miroslaw.sobolewski@sejm.gov.pl



EPTA ITA
© EPTA, provided by ITA; version 19 Oct 2012