HD63 - Report of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science

Executive Summary:


In 1977, funding was received from the National Science Foundation to incorporate scientific and technological information into the legislative process. House Joint Resolution 7 (1977) established the Legislative Scientific and Technology Advisory Committee to plan and implement the Legislative Science Advisor project. In 1978, a staff science position was created in the Division of Legislative Services. He provided research on matters related to science and technology to legislators in both houses, completed studies requested by standing or study committees and Division staff, and served as staff to standing committees and subcommittees dealing with science and technology. The position terminated about two years later when the advisor left the Division.

The 1979 "Report of the Legislative Scientific and Technological Advisory Committee to the Governor and the General Assembly of Virginia" (House Document No. 15 (1979)) recommended that the Committee provide. research, assessment, and recommendations on technologies applicable to the legislature and the legislative process; study how to tap the private sector into valuable sources of technical information; and study appropriate issues as the need arises.

In 1983, the governor established the Task Force on Science and Technology in Virginia. This task force was established to recommend ways in which Virginia could effectively retain and attract high-technology enterprises and assist citizens, communities, and institutions in preparing for societal changes resulting from the technological revolution. Its major recommendation was to create a policy advisory group of leaders from industry and education to monitor state agencies' performances in carrying out Task Force recommendations; provide guidance to the Governor and state agencies; assist in mobilizing efforts on the federal level; serve as ambassadors to high-technology industries considering a Virginia location; and review the plans and performance of the Division of Industrial Development in technology matters. The Task Force recommended that the group be active in formulating policy, have high visibility, and be specifically identified with science and technology, and that the Governor should be closely involved, perhaps as Chairman.

Chapter 782 of the 1984 Acts of Assembly created the Innovative Technology Authority Act (§ 9-250 et seq.), which established the Center for Innovative Technology.

The 1988 "Report of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission on Information Technology in Virginia State Government" (Senate Document No.3) recommended that the General Assembly establish a supervisory board, called the Council on Information Management with a permanent, continuous planning process. The Council would set Virginia's information technology course and have authority to develop an information technology plan and establish policies to address information technology issues.

Chapter 424 of the 1988 Acts of Assembly created the Council on Information Management (§ 2.1-563.28 et seq.).

The 1993 "Report of the Review Committee on the Performance and Potential of The Center For Innovative Technology" (Senate Document No. 16) concluded that Virginia's strategic plans for science and technology are insufficient and recommended that the General Assembly adopt a resolution creating a task force to coordinate development of a statewide strategic plan for science and technology.

House Joint Resolution 390 (1993) established the Task Force on Science and Technology for two years to report on the status of the recommendations made by the 1983 Governor's Task Force on Science and Technology, coordinate the development of a statewide strategic plan for science and technology, and examine whether a permanent council on science and technology should be created.

House Joint Resolution 447 (1995) continued the Task Force on Science and Technology for another year and requested the Task Force to consider recent and ongoing initiatives of other organizations focusing on science and technology issues. Also, House Joint Resolution 714 (1995) asked the Task Force to study opportunities and incentives for information and communications technology to meet public needs.

The 1996 "Report of the Joint Legislative Task Force on Science and Technology in Virginia" (House Document No. 46) recommended that a joint commission for technology and education be established; the Task Force be continued to review technology dispersion and public policy; and the Center for Innovative Technology be considered the lead mechanism for planning and representing Virginia in economic development matters dealing with science and technology.


To continue the work begun by the Task Force on Science and Technology established under House Joint Resolution 390 (1993), the 1996 General Assembly adopted House Joint Resolution 195, which created a joint legislative subcommittee to study science and technology. The subcommittee reported to the Governor and the 1997 General Assembly in House Document No. 81 (1997). The creation of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science ("JCOTS" or "the Commission") was included among the recommendations of the subcommittee. Created by the 1997 General Assembly through House Bill 2138, JCOTS is a permanent legislative commission charged to study all aspects of technology and science, to promote the development of technology and science in the Commonwealth of Virginia through sound public policies, and to report its findings annually to the Governor and the General Assembly. (See Chapter 11 of Title 30 of the Code of Virginia, § 30-85 et seq.) JCOTS, which consists of twelve legislators (seven Delegates and five Senators), submitted its first report to the Governor and the 1998 General Assembly in House Document No. 89 (1998); and maintains a website at http://jcots.state.va.us/.

At its meeting on June 6, 2000, JCOTS adopted its 2000-2001 workplan. (See Appendix 1). The workplan identified six issues for study through the establishment and work of advisory committees, co-chaired by JCOTS members: Internet Governance (Senator Bolling and Delegate Nixon, co-chairs); Economic Development (Delegates Bennett and Purkey, co-chairs); Electronic Government (Senators Newman and Ticer, co-chairs); the Digital Divide (Delegates Christian and Plum, co-chairs); the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (Senator Schrock and Delegate May, co-chairs); and Criminal Law (Senator Howell and Delegate O'Brien, co-chairs).

During the period from July to December 2000, advisory committees held 17 meetings. (See Appendix 2) Approximately 108 people participated in JCOTS' work through membership on advisory committees. (See Appendix 3) Advisory committee reports, presented to JCOTS at meetings on November 16, 2000 and January 9, 2001, were adopted by the full commission.

JCOTS' workplan also identified new issues to be introduced at full commission meetings through testimony and presentations, possible field trips, and other issues to be monitored throughout the study year. To accomplish these objectives and establish its legislative agenda, JCOTS met as a full commission five times from June 2000 to January 2001. At its meeting on January 9, 2001, JCOTS finalized its legislative and budget recommendations for the 2001 Session, which included 20 bills and resolutions, and one budget amendment. (See Appendix 4)