Chief Scientist Tim Persons and John Neumann, managing director of the Science, Technology Assessment & Analytics Office at GAO, discuss the work the new office will perform and how they hope Congress will utilize them.
The Government Accountability Office will soon play a larger role in technology oversight. The GAO Office of Science, Technology Assessment and Analytics will examine how high-tech issues could impact government. The office’s docket already includes examinations of blockchain, 5G wireless networks and artificial intelligence. Tim Persons, chief scientist at the office says that while this work had been done the in past at GAO, they’re hoping Congress will now more frequently utilize the resources they provide. “There are times where we’ll come to a committee and we’ll say, ‘This is a big issue, what do you all think?’ and we like to have that come from them in terms of their legislative activities. There will also be times where they will call us out of the blue and say ‘We’re concerned about this. We want to know what the impacts this is,’” said Persons. “It is pleasing to us, we want them to feel free to call us and ask those sorts of questions and it’s our job then to work from that and all the assets of GAO that are there, including our science and technology staff. We can always help answer those questions.” John Neumann, managing director of the Science, Technology Assessment & Analytics Office at GAO, says that the new office will be brought in to research topics that have a wide impact. “We do audit work across the agency that’s going to cover programs across the government. Other mission teams are going to continue to do that work and take the lead for that agency or that program. If it is a cross cutting science issue, where it’s cutting across multiple agencies or it’s an emerging science issue, that’s when it comes to us,” Neumann said.