Different kinds of assessments are carried out by different
advisory bodies. The European Group on Ethics in Science and New
Technologies (EGE) carry out ethical assessments. Technology
Advisory Boards carry out technology assessments and foresights.
The European Commission - as well as the individual European
countries - commissions or undertakes impact assessments on larger
policy initiatives. Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly
Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) is an important institution
carrying out risk assessment on new and emerging technologies,
along side national risk assessments.
Within the main categories of assessment frameworks there are a
diverse arsenal of methods, and some of these can be used in
several of the general assessment frameworks. Uncertainty
assessments, multi-criteria methods, cost-benefit approaches, etc.
are common in assessments. In the design of specific assessments a
number of methodological choices will also be done, for instance
with regard to the involvement of experts versus lay people or
stakeholders, the use of delphi techniques versus committee
Depending on the policy context the assessments will vary with
regard to the issue of transparency versus 'Chatham house rules',
openness for contributions in the assessment process, etc. The
assessments will also have explicit or implict normative baselines,
for instance, with regard to what consequences are relevant to
include, what is an acceptable level of risk, etc.
The need for technology assessments are correlated to the need for
good technology governance. Good technology governance involves
taking all socially relevant consequences of the technology into
account, and balancing the expected benefits and costs of the issue
at hand. Such holistic governance may involve developing research
programmes, regulation, public-private responsibility partnerships,
In the case studies EST-Frame studies current assessments in
particular with regard to appraising to what extent they contribute
to integrated technology governance. This involves studying how the
assessments are being carried out, and how the relevant
methodological choices are made.EST-Frame also includes a
cross-sectoral comparison of assessments, with a focus on
determining the relation between the assessments and uncovering any
potential for further integration of technology advice.