Running to Stand Still: Rapidly Emerging Technologies and the Challenge of Requisite Knowledge in Public Agencies
(Innovations in Science and Technology)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Rapidly emerging technologies can create a knowledge management challenge in public organizations. Public agencies, designed around yesterday’s technological imperatives, have to adapt in order to fulfill their missions as new technologies emerge. When technological innovation is rapid, regulatory adaptation must be equally rapid. The papers in this panel explore questions of knowledge management in public agencies by focusing how public regulatory agencies respond to CRISPR/Cas-9 and autonomous vehicle technologies. These two primary cases are further informed by a comparison with the recent experience of scientific capacity at the Environmental Protection Agency and by a consideration of how technical expertise is maintained or eroded in support of federal legislative functions. These cases, when taken together, give rise to a broader consideration of the scientific and technical capacity held by public organizations and asks how scholars and practitioners might measure knowledge-based capacity in public settings. With public policies increasingly characterized by scientific and technical complexity, public organizations need to build and maintain sufficient technical expertise to understand the changing external environment and to adequately respond to that environment. However, a number of pressures might be acting on public agencies in ways that erode scientific and technical capacity. This issue cuts across academic and practitioner audiences. The panel is designed to provide an opportunity for practitioners and researchers to engage with this topic and encourage future collaborations and research.