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Zach Graves and Daniel Schuman join us to discuss how Congress is designed to be a debate process, but it is hard to debate when you don’t have the expertise in a certain topic area, like technology.

Paul Matzko
Tech & Innovation Editor

Will Duffield is a research assistant at Cato’s First Amendment Project.

Zach Graves works on technology and governance issues, and was the founder and former director of R Street’s Technology & Innovation department. He is currently head of policy at the Lincoln Network and a technology and democracy fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is also a fellow at the Internet Law and Policy Foundry and a visiting fellow at the National Security Institute at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School.

Prior to joining R Street, Zach worked at the Cato Institute and the America’s Future Foundation.

Daniel leads Demand Progress and Demand Progress Education Fund’s efforts on issues that concern governmental transparency/​accountability/​reform, civil liberties/​national security, and promoting an open internet. He co‐​founded the Congressional Data Coalition, which brings together organizations from across the political spectrum to advocate for a tech‐​savvy Congress. Daniel directs the Advisory Committee on Transparency, which supports the work of the Congressional Transparency Caucus, and is a fellow at CodeX, the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics. His new website, EveryCRSReport, recently won a ‘le hackie’ award from D.C. Legal Hackers. In 2016 Daniel was named to the FastCase 50 and in 2013 Daniel was named among the ‘top 25 most influential people under 40 in gov and tech’ by FedScoop. He is a nationally recognized expert on federal transparency, accountability, and capacity and has testified before Congress and appeared on NPR, C-SPAN, and other news outlets. He previously worked as policy director at CREW; policy counsel at the Sunlight Foundation; and as a legislative attorney with the Congressional Research Service. Daniel graduated cum laude from Emory University School of Law.

Building Tomorrow isn’t in the business of encouraging government bloat, but in this episode we consider whether, sometimes, eliminating a government agency might be a penny wise, pound foolish decision. In particular, Paul and Will are joined by Zach Graves and Daniel Schuman as they discuss proposals to resurrect the Office for Technology Assessment, which had advised Congress on tech policy until getting the axe in the mid‐​1990s. Just as the Congressional Budget Office provides ostensibly non‐​partisan estimates of the cost of proposed legislation, the OTA would provide non‐​partisan reports weighing the costs and benefits of tech related legislation.

Do we lobby more than we use to? Why do employees leave their work at Capitol Hill? What is the purpose of executive orders? Which Congressional agencies focus on technology policy? What is the economic cost of not having privacy legislation now? How much power does the Congressional Budget Office have?

Further Reading: