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Request for Proposals: Assessment of Opportunities and Challenges in Public Interest Technology

AAAS seeks a consultant to conduct an internal assessment of relevant American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) units to determine the extent to which their existing activities and priorities might be leveraged to help embed the values and practices of public interest technology in government functions. The consultant should have expertise in public interest technology and the application of principles of public interest technology in practice, including through government policy and regulation, and within academia and civil society. Diversity at all levels is critical to the AAAS mission. We recognize and honor diversity in race, ethnicity, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation, and religion and are a leader in promoting the inclusion of individuals with disabilities and the importance of bringing a breadth of perspectives and backgrounds to the scientific enterprise.


Founded in 1848, AAAS is the world’s largest multi-disciplinary science society, fulfilling its mission to advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people through a broad array of initiatives focused on communication, public engagement, education, scientific responsibility, diversity and inclusion, public policy, and science diplomacy. AAAS speaks on behalf of science in public issues and its programs promote integrity and diversity; advance communication among scientists, engineers, and the public; and advance science literacy.

Through Science and the Science family of journals, we reach more than one million people each week with news about the most promising, cutting-edge research. Our more than 120,000 members span disciplines and sectors across the globe, and more than 260 affiliated societies and academies of science serve 10 million individuals.

The AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program (SRHRL) promotes high standards for the practice of science and engineering; advances the right to science; monitors and enhances assessment of emerging ethical, legal, and human rights issues related to science and technology; and promotes the responsible use of science in public policy. SRHRL is the lead Program for the AAAS Artificial Intelligence: Applications, Implications initiative and will be the main point of contact for the consultant conducting the internal assessment.

Scope of Work

We recognize the value that new technologies can bring to our lives. We also acknowledge the risks that exist that not all of society will be equally or beneficially served by such technologies. Given that, what, if anything, could be the role of AAAS in this sphere? What function might AAAS play to foster and facilitate the integration of the values of technology for the public good into the functions and structures of government, academia, and the scientific community? What resources would be needed for us to pursue opportunities? What interest exists among our networks to work with us in this way?

The Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program of AAAS has received a grant to address these questions. The key outcomes of the grant include:

  • development and adoption of a pro bono model for public interest technology, accompanied by implementation of a robust evaluation process to identify impacts, benefits and challenges, and creation of a peer network to share lessons learned and good practices;
  • articulation and widespread agreement on principles and practices of public interest technology, and;
  • acculturation - through training and implementation of relevant processes - of those principles in the practice of technology research and development.

Alongside other activities aimed at these key outcomes, AAAS seeks an internal assessment of relevant AAAS units to determine the extent to which existing AAAS priorities and programs might align with future efforts to address technology for the public good as an important part of our activities. In addition to working with internal AAAS points of contact, the consultant will also engage contacts and partners in government, academia and civil society to determine the feasibility, interest and potential for future impact.

The Scope of Work is to be completed in four months. The meetings specified in the Scope of Work may be conducted virtually.

  1. Initial Internal Assessment: Through interviews and other means, the consultant will become familiar with the relevant activities and goals of each AAAS unit identified by AAAS for inclusion. This initial investigation is expected to include document collection and review, as well as interviews of key AAAS staff. Questions to be addressed at this stage include: the nature and extent of current engagements with government, academic and civil society, any recent or current activities that involve embedding of values, principles or approaches in the functions of the relevant interlocutors in each sector, the goals that guide that work, challenges associated with it and opportunities that exist.

  2. Summarize, Share, and Refine: The consultant will summarize their initial findings in a memo that will be shared with the relevant units. The consultant will present the findings in a meeting with key staff, to be organized by SRHRL. Participants in the meeting will identify and fill gaps in the findings, areas of misinterpretation, and preliminary ideas for leveraging the work of these units, including through cross-functional collaboration, to embed public interest technology values in the functions of government, academia and civil society.

  3. Engage External Stakeholders: In consultation with SRHRL and relevant AAAS units, the consultant will identify external contacts and partners who can help determine the feasibility, interest and potential for impact of the ideas generated. The consultant will conduct interviews with the external contacts to get feedback on the preliminary ideas, and to seek additional ideas from their perspective as stakeholders.

  4. Results and Recommendations: The consultant will prepare and present a draft initial assessment report for review and feedback by relevant AAAS staff. The report must describe (a) investigation methods; (b) the internal and external sources of information the consultant relied upon; and (c) findings regarding existing AAAS resources, networks, partners, and activities that are relevant to advancing the principles of public interest technologies, strategic opportunities, risks, needs, and recommendations for next steps.

  5. Final Report: After receiving feedback from AAAS, the consultant will revise the report. The consultant will present the final report at a meeting of AAAS staff and advisory group members, to be organized by SRHRL.


Deliverable 1: Internal Memo and Presentation at Meeting
Deliverable 2: Draft Report and Presentation at Meeting
Deliverable 3: Final Report and Presentation at Meeting

All deliverables are to be completed within four months of contract start date.


Please send proposals by June 9, 2022 to:

Theresa Harris
Interim Program Director
Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program

1200 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20005 USA

Kindly send proposals electronically.

Please include in your proposal:

  • Full contact information for consultant
  • A description of your relevant experience, specifically addressing the outcomes included above
  • Proposed timeline for returning deliverables
  • Budget
  • A resumé or CV
  • Recommendations from previous and existing clients or employers

We anticipate making decisions within two weeks of the proposal deadline. The AAAS point of contact reviews proposals with an internal management team, who makes the final recommendation for internal consideration.