Comparative Table of Parliamentary TA Institutions
DENMARK - THE DANISH BOARD OF TECHNOLOGY
The full name of the Danish Board of Technology (DBT) is the Danish
Board of Technology Foundation - Fonden Teknologiradet. DBT aims to
further the technology debate, assess technological impacts and options
and advise the Danish Parliament, the Government and other political
decision-makers in matters pertaining to technology.
ORGANISATIONThe Danish Board of Technology is a non-profit,
common good, corporative foundation, established in the course of the
abolishment of the former Danish Board of Technology by June 20, 2012.
A corporate foundation is in Denmark a foundation, which bases
its income on commercial activities and uses the revenue for common
good purposes. Before the establishment of the foundation the Danish
Board of Technology was a public, independent institution established
by the Danish Parliament (the Folketing) under the Board of Technology
Act No. 375 of 14 June 1995. The first Board of Technology was set up
as a time-limited statutory body in 1986 and replaced by the Board
(Teknologiradet) on 31 July 1995. The abolishment of the DBT in 2012
triggered a company take-over into the foundation on June 20, 2012.
The DBT was brought into being with three functions in mind.
First, it was expected to disseminate knowledge about technology, its
possibilities and its effects on people, on society and on the
environment in order to support the level of knowledge and the debate
in society. Second, it should support the work of Parliament by
bringing forth visions, assessments and inspiration for political
action. And third, there was an expectation that the Board should build
its work on the experiences with action research made in the social
sciences during the end of the 1970's and the beginning of the 1980's.
So, DBT was born with expectations of serving Parliament, the public
discourse and the actors involved in technology policy-making.
The DBT Foundation will build on this historical background and is expected to supply it with two new components.
As a consequence of this development, the DBT Foundation makes use of
the term Policy-oriented TA as a core function of its work.
Parliamentary TA is an important part of this wider concept of TA.
The relation to the Danish Parliament is being processed at the
time of writing. However, the Danish Parliament´s Committee for
Science, Innovation and Higher Education is expected to point out two
members of the Board of Representatives of the DBT Foundation. It is
expected as well that an evaluation will take place in 2013, which will
make a basis for clarifying the longer term relation between the
Parliament and the DBT.
The DBT comprises a Board of Governors, a Board of Representatives, a Director and a Secretariat.
- Other political decision-makers than the Danish Parliament are
presumed to receive more focus from the DBT in the future because of
the wide-spread influence on technology decisions in modern societies.
- The DBT Foundation expects to make use of its TA methodologies in
areas, where the technology component of the problem is less dominating.
- The Board of Governors consists of seven members, including a
chairman. The Board of representatives appoints two members. The
employees appoint one member among their midst, and one member who
cannot be an employee. The former Board appoints two members, plus one
member after consultation of EPTA or a comparable relevant
international organisation. It is being clarified at the time of
writing if the Parliament is going to appoint one member.
- The rules for setting up the Board of Representatives are being laid out at the time of writing.
- The Director is employed by the Board of Governors. She/he takes
part in and can speak at the meetings of the Board of Governors, but
- The Secretariat carries out the projects of the DBT and consists of
9 project managers (scientific staff), 2 project secretaries, 4
administrative staffers and 6-10 project employed assistants - mostly
As a corporate foundation, DBT carries out activities financed by third
party funds. These have until 2012 mainly come from municipalities,
regions, governmental agencies, the EU Commission and the European
Parliament, but it is expected that the range of financial partners
will expand into charity foundations, financing consortiums of societal
actors and the Danish Parliament. The yearly turnover is expected to be
around 9 million DKK (1,2 million Euro in 2012).
FINDING TOPICS The search for topics will be made in close
cooperation with the Board of Representatives and a wider network of
interested parties. "Thematic meetings"
will be made, in which important projects are identified, cooperation
is established, and a financial background is being sought for.
The DBT foundation will initiate projects on demand from
external actors, and may establish companies, which can focus on
certain topical/business areas. It is crucial for the DBT Foundation
that such external funding can be established without compromising the
independency of the DBT, which will be managed by firstly, a set of
clear rules for keeping projects at "arms´ length" from those who pay, and second, to keep certain business areas separate in their own companies if needed.
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 of
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 population´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
- Citizens´ 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.
The target groups are defined for each topic as part of the
methodological choice. Methods and communication means are chosen to
involve those actors who can make change. This often involves
Parliament as target group together with other important actors.
DBT separates between "need-to-know" and "nice-to-know" target groups.
The strategy for needs-to-know is to establish direct collaboration
(involvement) with the target groups around the assessment, since that
ensures the optimal communication situation. Nice-to-know target groups
are mostly reached through workshops, conferencing, publications,
newsletters and the press.
- The expert communities may be target groups when the
topic involves new orientation of research and innovation, or if
research ethics (responsible research and innovation) may be of
importance. There may be a need for bridge-building between academic
communities, or it may be good to introduce self-reflexion among
scientists on the societal impact of their research. Often this may be
facilitated by involving the experts directly in the assessments,
thereby making the assessments and effectively communicating them at
the same time.
- Stakeholders may be very important actors if change is going
to be induced. It may be that different stakeholders are blocking each
other, thereby inhibiting the necessary change. Or, stakeholders may
act on very different kinds of knowledge from which they define their
opposing positions. Mediation and knowledge sharing therefore may be
components in the involvement of stakeholders. Stakeholders are strong
communicators to policy-makers if they back up the assessments and
often they may even be able to induce change directly through their
- Citizens can be important target groups for technology
assessment, but cannot be reached directly because of the limited
resources available. Therefore, citizens mainly can be reached through
the media, which makes the press an important primary target group.
- Political decision-makers are most often a primary
target group because of the importance of legislation in many
technology fields, and because of the agenda-setting function of
Parliament. In a broader sense, political decision-makers (region,
municipalities) are important for administrative policy-making on
environment, health, education, infrastructure etc. Accordingly, DBT
considers all levels of political decision-making when selecting target
COMMUNICATION AND PUBLICATIONSDBT communicates and
co-operates directly with the relevant parliamentary committees who
seek advice on examining a specific subject. This advice can consist of
answering specific questions from members of parliament, making
information meetings for committees, arranging hearings for
parliamentary committees, or providing an issue of the briefing
note "From the Board to the Parliament".
DBT issues a range of publications with a view to stimulating debate on
technology among them reports, books, newsletters, booklets and
pamphlets. The e-magazine TeknologiDebat contains news stories,
background information, articles and debates, all primarily related to
the projects of DBT.
The website www.tekno.dk
is a very important communication tool for DBT. It has around 1 million
visits a year and some publications are downloaded at figures exceeding
250.000. The website delivers all publications of DBT, pages on all
projects, podcasts from conferences, hearings, workshops etc., and a
web-version of the eMagazine TeknologiDebat.
STATUS QUO AND THE WAY AHEADThe work of the DBT is generally
highly appreciated by Danish Members of Parliament (MPs) and
increasingly by politicians in the regions and municipalities. However,
Denmark has, through the last 10 years, been characterized by a strong
divide between left/right in politics - often referred to as "block politics".
This has decreased the level of dialogue and common actions across the
parliamentary room, and accordingly decreased the call for independent
assessments. This tendency has been very clear with regards to a
remarkable decrease in the call for parliamentary hearings during the
last 5 years.
The change of the DBT into a corporate foundation needs to be
seen in the light of this contemporary political situation. It will
therefore be very important for the parliamentary TA function of the
DBT Foundation that a closer relation between the single committees and
the DBT is developed during 2013–2014..
Internationalisation of nearly all aspects of technology
development and regulation is a tendency that has been accelerating
very strongly through the last decade. DBT sees it as a main challenge
to find ways for TA to keep up with this trend and be able to assess
technology at all relevant policy levels. Some actions taken by DBT,
such as the World Wide Views on Global Warming, the lately finished
WWViews on Biodiversity, and the coordination of PACITA, indicates the
beginning of a future, in which the Board will see internationalisation
as a main challenge and a main field of activity. Increasing synergy
between TA units across Europe and across the world is seen as a must
for the future.
The new media reality is a challenge that needs to be
confronted. Information sources become diffuse, journalism becomes more
popular and less deep, the written media loses terrain, etc. TA needs
to find its way in this new media world. TA is important, focuses on
determining issues for society, has stories to tell and conclusions to
discuss - so, the content is there to be communicated. The challenge is
to redirect the communication efforts into new and more effective modes
in the new media picture. It is a matter of strategy and of resources
The Danish Board of Technology FoundationToldbodgade 12
Chairwoman of the Board of Governors: Ms
Director: Mr Lars Klüver
Fon +45 33 32 05 03
Fax +45 33 91 05 09
(c) EPTA, provided by ITA; version 03/2013