A division of the United States Department of State and therefore within the purview of its Secretary, (Jaime and the King, The Solid Gold Kidnapping) the OSI's activities primarily center around the creation and protection of new technologies vital to national defense. It has occasionally sent agents on more traditional diplomatic details, especially when those missions would benefit from the unique technologies it has developed. Rarely, the OSI has been used as the lead Federal agency on fairly ordinary domestic crises. (Eyewitness to Murder)
The organization's mandate is thus a flexible one, requiring good working relationships with other departments within the executive branch of the US Government. In particular, it maintains a strong relationship with the Department of Defense, by whom many of its technological innovations are used.
The organization is headquartered in Washington, DC, home to Oscar's office. Rudy has a known lab in Colorado Springs, Colarado, at which both Steve and Jaime recuperated soon after their bionic replacement surgeries. (The Six Million Dollar Man (Pilot), The Return of the Bionic Woman (Part II) and Welcome Home, Jaime). He has additional laboratories at the Washington headquarters. (The Solid Gold Kidnapping). An additional facility exists in Los Angeles, California, appearing first in "The Return of Bigfoot" and continuing to appear for the final two seasons of both shows (as well as the first reunion movie).
The overwhelmingly dominant name used in the show is Office of Scientific Intelligence. This was prominently emblazoned across the outer glass door leading to Oscar's office in many episodes, including "Nuclear Alert," "The Midas Touch," "The Last Kamikaze," and "Return of the Robot Maker." It appeared on agent identification cards ("Operation Firefly") and building entrances ("Kill Oscar") It was spoken by Farrah Fawcett in "The Peeping Blonde," by Oscar himself in "Task Force," and by an anchorman on a newscast in "Kill Oscar (Part III)."
However, other names have occasionally cropped up. The single most consistent alternative is Office of Scientific Information. This was used throughout the reunion movies. Given the fact that the movies were set several years after the final events of the series, it is possible that the organization, like many government agencies, got a name change in the intervening years.
Other variations are not so easy to explain, largely because they happened rarely and are sandwiched between other stories that revert back to Intelligence.
During the teaser of "Welcome Home, Jaime," Oscar states, "Office of Scientific Investigation." And in "Death Probe," an Oscar impostor flashes an ID that reads "Intelligence" but later, the real Oscar verbally states "Investigation."
- Home Video
- Charlton Comics
Perhaps the biggest source of variation can be found in Charlton's The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman comic books. Within the space of just 14 total issues, no fewer than three different names were used, mostly within the confines of the illustrated text stories at the back of the issues.
While some issues used Office of Scientific Intelligence ("Win a Few" in issue #2 of The Six Million Dollar Man), others employed Office of Strategic Information ("No Way Out," issue #1, and "The Ransom," issue #4 — The Six Million Dollar Man). But the most-used variation in the comic books was Office of Strategic Intelligence. It appeared once in the context of the main comic story, "Rico, Come Home!" in the first issue of The Bionic Woman. Since the two books otherwise stuck to the acronym in their comic stories, this meant that, technically, this story offered the only name officially established in the Charlton comics continuity. Additionally, this name also appeared in the Jaime Sommers fact sheet at the back of the same issue, and in the illustrated text story, "Forbidden Reef" from issue #3 of The Six Million Dollar Man.
- Activity Books
The Office of Strategic Intelligence variant is also used in The Bionic Woman Action-Adventure Activity Book, a children's book published by Grosset & Dunlap.
In the Martin Caidin series of Cyborg novels, the organization to which Steve Austin owes his recovery is the OSO, or Office of Strategic Operations. The acronym was maintained for the first pilot telefilm, but was replaced with OSI in Steve's next TV adventure, Wine, Women and War. It crops up again in James B. Sikking's credit for The Solid Gold Kidnapping, as 2nd OSO Agent.
Later, when the pilot was prepared for syndication, it was padded with scenes from other episodes to create the two-parter, "The Moon and the Desert." Because some of those scenes contained reference to OSI, a discontinuity was introduced.
Steve's adventures in the British Look-in comic strips retain OSO in many adventures. However, Look-in's Bionic Woman reference OSO in its first story only, while the rest frequently proclaim that she works for the OSI.
The OSO variant appears frequently in the novelizations written by Mike Jahn and others (e.g. International Incidents and Wine, Women and War), as these books attempt to maintain continuity with Caidin's works. However, as noted above, this contradicts the Bionic Woman novelizations by Eileen Lottman that use Office of Strategic Intelligence.
An early book on the making of the two bionic series, The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, also uses OSO when referring to the organization in the two shows.
Intriguingly, there appears to be a real OSO within the US intelligence community. The Operational Support Office is part of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and is apparently responsible for broadcasting data to military units. The NRO's existence remained secret until 1992. However, even before the NRO another OSO, the Office of Special Operations, was widely known to have operated in the years following World War II, as a division of the Central Intelligence Group, a precursor to the CIA formed by President Harry Truman in 1946.
The specific building used for the Washington location is the real-life Russell Senate Office Building, which is located just northeast of the US Capitol Building; the iconic view is taken from the intersection of Constitution and Delaware avenues, and can be seen on Google Street View here.
The closest real-life analogue to the OSI would probably be the extremely short-lived Interim Research and Intelligence Service. This subdivision of the State Department was the result of the devolution of the functionality of the OSS to the Departments of War and State in the immediate aftermath of World War II. By 1946, these functions would be again removed from War and State and reconstituted into the newly-formed CIA. Indeed the fact that the CIA arose out of the efforts of Truman's Secretary of State James Byrnes  may also be seen as a possible reason that the fictional OSI is a part of the Department of State. The modern State Department includes the [Bureau of Intelligence and Research], known as INR, but its intelligence gathering activities are not primarily covert.
Historically, there was a real Office of Scientific Intelligence that was part of the CIA. On December 31, 1948, the CIA formed the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI), by merging the Scientific Branch in the Office of Reports and Estimates with the Nuclear Energy Group of the Office of Special Operations (OSO). In August of 1963, the CIA's Office of Secret Intelligence was transferred into the Directorate of Science and Technology.
A real OSI exists within the Pentagon, although just as in the series, there appears to be a difference of opinion as to what the initials stands for. In 2002, a New York Times article referred to an "Office of Strategic Influence", while others call it the "Office of Strategic Information"  This OSI, which was created after the September 11 attacks, appears to be tasked with disseminating information relating to the War on Terror.
OSI in Other Pop Culture
The Office of Scientific Investigation is the unifying element of a trilogy of sci-fi movies written by Ivan Tors. The movies include The Magnetic Monster (1953), Riders to the Stars (1954), and Gog (1954). The adventures of the Office of Scientific Investigation in Tors' movies resemble cases that would involve the OSI in SMDM and BW.
The Office of Secret Intelligence is an organization that plays a prominent role in The Venture Brothers series. The abbreviation OSI is obviously inspired by the Six Million Dollar Man. One of its former operative is Steve Summers, a clear reference to Steve Austin.
The Office of Scientific Intelligence is the name of the government organization in the 1984 film Firestarter. In this film, the OSI attempts to control a girl, played by Drew Barrymore, who has the power of pyrokenesis.
The Office of Scientific Intelligence is the name of the government organization involved in combating an alien invasion in the 1994 film The Puppet Masters. The film is based on Robert A. Heinlein's 1951 novel of the same name. In the novel, the government organization is simply called "Section."
- Sarah-Jane Corke, US Covert Operations and Cold War Strategy (Routledge, 2008), p. 24-25. Google Books archive
- The building looks virtually identical in the recent Street View images compared to the 1970s. Noticeable differences include the fact there is no parking along the Delaware Avenue side of the building now, a large planter is set in front, and there are security gates on Delaware that prevent regular traffic (including the Street View cars) from traveling alongside the building. The window used for "Oscar's office" remains clearly visible, however.
- Richelson, Jeffery T. A Century of Spies. Oxford University Press (US). 1995. 216.
- "Fair Media Advisory: Pentagon Propaganda Plan is Undemocratic, Possibly Illegal", Fair.org, Feb. 19, 2002, citing a New York Times article of the same date; accessed Feb. 5, 2008
- Lou Morano, "Propaganda: Remember the Kuwaiti Babies?", United Press International, archived at Propaganda Critic.com, Feb. 26, 2002, accessed Feb. 5, 2008