Supplementary submission from the Department
for Innovation, Universities and Skills
The House of Commons Innovation, Universities,
Science and Skills Committee has asked DIUS to provide a memorandum
outlining progress made in implementing the recommendations of
the former Science and Technology Committee's report Scientific
Advice, Risk and Evidence Based Policy Making (HC900, Session
2005-06). This memorandum provides an update for the period since
September 2007 (when the last update was provided).
The Government plans to publish a strategy for science
in Government in the near future, which will set out in more detail
its approach and plans, building on the approach set out in its
reply to the S&T Committee's report.
The main areas of development since September 2007
are set out below.
Chief Scientific Advisers working together and
with other analysts across Government
The Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government
(GCSA), Professor John Beddington, has established a "Core
Issues Group" (CIG) of departmental CSAs (DCSAs) to address
cross-cutting scientific issues such as climate change, food,
water and energy; counter terrorism and infectious diseases. This
group has formed sub-groups for specific tasks, for example to
peer review the scientific content of the Gallagher report on
It may shortly undertake work on the Severn Barrage. The GCSA
has also worked closely with other analytical professions through
the Heads of Analysis Group, for example to advise departmental
Capability Review teams on analysis and use of evidence.
CIG meets regularly with Research Council Chief Executives,
with whom it is developing a set of cross-cutting R&D priorities
in preparation for the next Spending Review. CIG is also engaging
with the Chief Executives of the leading Engineering Institutions
to explore ways to improve the contribution that the engineering
community can make to the government's response to major challenges
such as climate change.
The GCSA also continues to provide personal
advice to Cabinet Committees, the Prime Minister and Ministers
more widely, for example on food, energy and security.
A Global Issues Team has been established within
the Government Office for Science (GO-Science) to support the
GCSA on policy issues where science and technology have an important
role. These include climate change and energy, food security,
nanotechnologies, bioscience, civil contingencies and counter
Appointment of Chief Scientific Advisers
All the main science-using departments except
HMT have either appointed CSAs or plan to do so.
Advice and support to departments
GO-Science continues to review departments' management
and use of science with a view to improvement and spreading best
practice. Reviews of the Home Office/Ministry of Justice and the
Department for Health have been completed and the Food Standards
Agency Review will be published shortly. Advice has also been
provided to DFID on its management of science.
The Science Reviews are being replaced by a new "lighter
touch" programme of "Science and Engineering Assurance
Exercises" to provide faster and more focused oversight of
Departmental management and use of science and engineering.
Foresight and Horizon Scanning
Foresight projects on Obesities, Mental Capital
and Wellbeing and Sustainable Energy Management and the Built
Environment have been completed. The Obesities project informed
the Government strategy published in January 2008 (Healthy
Weight, Healthy Lives: a cross-government strategy for England),
and the other projects are also being followed up by relevant
departments. In the wake of the Foresight report Infectious
Diseases: preparing for the future, John Denham announced
a major government investment in the development of diagnostic
technologies on 7 October 2008.
The Horizon Scanning Centre has worked with departments
across a wide range of issues, for example on International Futures
scenarios (for DFID, MOD, BERR, FCO and HMT), on UK Futures
2030 to inform DIUS's own strategy, and to help update the
National Security Strategy. It has updated its horizon scans,
and plans soon to publish a report on its engagement work on the
wider implications of science and technology. It has helped establish
a new Strategic Horizons Unit within the Cabinet Office, to address
national security issues.
The Science and Engineering Profession in Government
Working with departmental Heads of Science and
Engineering professions (HoSEPs), the GCSA is developing a long-term
strategy that will set out a vision for the Government Science
and Engineering community focusing on building a cohesive community,
supporting scientists and engineers within the Civil Service and
championing the profession across Government. This includes arranging
periodic conferences, co-ordinating and promoting the spreading
of good practice, drafting and maintaining the requirements of
Professional Skills for Government as they apply to Government
scientists and engineers, and exploring issues of importance to
the profession and departments, such as development, recruitment
and retention. The first ever national annual conference for the
science and engineering profession in Government took place in
January 2009; speakers included the Science and Innovation Minister,
the Head of the Home Civil Service and the GCSA. Membership of
the science and engineering community now stands at over 1600
civil servants from more than 30 government departments and agencies.
During that conference the GCSA launched Government Science and
Engineering (GSE) to promote the professional interests of scientists
and engineers in government.
The Council for Science and Technology
The CST has provided further advice to the Prime
Minister and Government orally and in writing. Its most recent
major report addressed the relationship between academia and policy
makers. John Denham will be leading the Government's response
to that report.
The Cabinet Committee on Science and Innovation
The Cabinet Committee on Science and Innovation,
ED(SI), is addressing the management and use of science by Government
amongst other things, and the chair (Lord Drayson) will report
quarterly to the Prime Minister. The GCSA advises at its meetings.
Other areas where progress has been made include:
Guidance is being developed on risk
communication for civil servants, addressing both policy makers
in general and scientists and engineers in particular.
The revised Government Code of Practice
was published in July 2008.
A revised UK strategy for science
and society is being developed in the light of consultation in
The Sciencewise Expert Resource Centre
for Public Dialogue in Science and Technology has been launched.
It has supported dialogue in areas such as drugs, hybrid and chimera
embryos and stem cell research.
Further detail of the Government's approach
and progress will be set out in the forthcoming science in Government
244 The Gallagher Review of the indirect effects of
biofuels production, Renewable Fuels Agency, July 2008. Back