study conclusion: the need for Chief Engineering Advisers
301. When the Government talks about evidence-based
policy or the STEM agenda, we have observed that 'science' always
comes before 'engineering' and usually to the exclusion of it.
This is not a banal pecking-order dispute. It is an observation
about the Government's attitude towards science and engineering.
Or is it engineering and science? According to a new Government
campaign, it is neither: the name of the campaign is 'Science:
So What? So Everything'! As Professor Wendy Hall put it:
David King and John Beddington both use science to
mean science and engineering but to meand you will understand
thisit is very like when people say, "Well, 'he' means
he and she" but when people say "he" then mean
he, particularly "he's" [men] when they say "he".
When scientists say "science" they mean science.
302. And Professor the Lord Broers, who plainly
told us that he considers himself both an engineer and a scientist,
had the following exchange with the Chairman:
You have just heard, Lord Broers [
] an impassioned plea
for engineers to be recognised as, if you like, a chief engineer
within departments alongside Chief Scientific Advisers, but you
seem to be saying that these are opposite sides of the same coin
and that therefore we do not need to make that distinction.
Lord Broers: I
think that is the case but I would have approached this problem
from a different point of view. I would have asked the question:
is it necessary to have a Chief Scientist alongside the Chief
Chairman: What is your
Lord Broers: Probably
not in many instances.
Chairman: So you would
have a Chief Engineer?
Lord Broers: Yes.
Chairman: Would you settle
for a Chief Scientific and Engineering Adviser?
Lord Broers: I
would settle for a Chief Engineering and Scientific Adviser.
303. We have already discussed at length the
fact that engineers have a different set of skills to scientists
and that Government could benefit from more engineering advice.
This leads to a natural question, raised in the discussion between
the Chairman and Lord Broers: should there be a Government Chief
304. The engineering community certainly thinks
that there should be. The strength of feeling was at times palpable.
Bob Dover, former Chairman and CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, when
asked if the Government would benefit from having a Chief Engineer,
replied: "Yes, much more important than a Chief Scientist".
We heard several reasons:
- Because engineering advice
is distinct from other kinds of advice: We have argued this above
(Paragraph 248). Additionally, the Royal Academy of Engineering
pointed out that:
There is growing support for the appointment of a
Chief Engineer, distinct from the Government Chief Scientist.
Engineers have particular skill in the deployment of resources
to meet national goals and measures; the management of risk and
the assessment of technological solutions to problems like climate
change and security of energy supplyall of which are essential
to good policy making. Such an appointment would also go a substantial
way to ensure that engineering is appropriately represented in
Government and that the needs and contributions of engineering
are dealt with by Government in a strategic manner.
- Because engineers are best
qualified to set best practice in engineering advice: Professor
Wendy Hall noted in her impassioned call for a Chief Engineering
Adviser that "just as Chief Scientific Advisers set best
practice for science policy in a department, you need the engineering
expertise to set best practice for engineering policy".
- Because the Government should recognise the importance
of engineers: The professional engineering community submitted
in a joint statement that "As currently happens with Science
(through the Chief Scientist [i.e., Government Chief Scientific
Adviser]), appropriate recognition should also be given to Engineering
and Technology in the policy making process".
- Because it has proved successful elsewhere: Professor
Snowden told us that having a Chief Scientific Adviser and a Chief
Engineering Adviser could "work very well", at the same
time putting pay to the fear over putting the two disciplines
I would like to add that I have been in a company
in the United States, I was a chief scientist there, and I actually
worked in parallel with their chief engineer and, I have to say,
we did not see the differences there. Similarly, in my own companies,
I have had similar roles, so I do not see them as competitive,
I see them as complementary.
305. We would add to this list:
- Because Departmental Chief
Engineering Advisers (DCEAs) would be able to take an overview
of a Department's engineering advice needs and ensure that sufficient
capacity existed to meet those needs. We have already demonstrated
that engineering capacity in the civil service is currently insufficient
(see Paragraph 257).
- Because Chief Engineering Advisers would provide
useful points of contact between departments trying to co-ordinate
overlapping engineering programmes.
- Because Chief Engineering Advisers would provide
useful points of contact to the outside worldparticularly
the engineering community. We were alerted about the need for
this when Lord Broers, who has more experience than most in engineering-related
policy, through his work as the former President of the Royal
Academy of Engineering and the former Chairman of the House of
Lords Science and Technology Committee, admitted:
Yes, well, I am afraid, Chairman, even I am ignorant
of quite where these [Government policy] decisions are made. My
experience, having chaired the Science and Technology Committee,
is that we are always trying to bring back decisions that were
made somewhere, but I was never quite sure where, to bring sanity
back to the case. In fact, as you know in your Committee, my Committee,
when I chaired it, was quite effective in many instances in bringing
things back by taking the right evidence from the right people
and establishing what is the sensible strategy, but I am not sure
where these strategies originate. They are made somewhere deep
inside departments, I suppose.
- Because the Government already
recognises other specialist expertise that it also puts under
the broad heading of 'science'.
306. The Government could easily
support its claim to recognise the importance of engineering and
engineers by appointing Chief Engineering Advisers, at a minimum
in positions where existing Chief Scientific Advisers act as Chief
307. The Government has argued
on several occasions that 'science' includes engineering, and
therefore there is no need for a Chief Engineer. But it also argues
that 'science' includes social science and statistics, yet there
is a Chief Social Scientist and a National Statistician. The Government's
position is illogical.
308. Some departments should
have Departmental Chief Engineering Advisers (DCEAs), some Departmental
Chief Scientific Advisers (DCSAs), and some should have both.
The Government Chief Scientific Adviser should liaise with Departments
to determine which arrangement is most appropriate.
309. One further issue that was raised regarding
the role of DCEAs and DCSAs is the role that they play in the
senior management of a department and whether they should sit
on the boards of departments.
We note that some departments do have their DCSA on the board,
for example Defra and DIUS, but most do not. We shall return to
this issue during our inquiry on 'Putting science and engineering
at the heart of Government policy'.
310. We agree with Professor Beddington that
there should be one person to head up the research and engineering
strand of advice across Government.
Currently, that person is the GCSA, Professor Beddington. For
reasons that follow, we are proposing an enhanced role as head
of scientific, social science and engineering advice across Government.
A job title that would be more befitting this roleand in
line with the GCSA's current role as Head of the Science and Engineering
Professionswould be Government Chief Scientific and Engineering
311. The civil service currently has a Chief
Social Scientist and a National Statistician, and in the past
there has been a Chief Economic Adviser. We take the view that
there should also be a cross-departmental head of engineering,
whose job it would be to ensure that engineering advice across
Government was adequate and engineering programmes across Government
were co-ordinated. Since the departmental engineering heads will
be called Departmental Chief Engineering Advisers, and not to
confuse with the GCSEA, this individual could simply be called
the Government Chief Engineer. Additionally there should be a
Government Chief Scientist, Government Chief Social Scientist
and a Government Chief Statistician. These would make up a cross-departmental
advice and co-ordination team, and would be responsible for keeping
the GCSEA briefed. The GCSEA would take on a more prominent role,
with more regular meetings with the Prime Minster and Cabinet
Office Officials and Advisers.
312. In order to maximise the benefits of this
new arrangement, there needs to be a location change. Currently,
the GCSA is based in DIUS but answers to the Prime Minister. We
agree with the former Science and Technology Committee, which
recommended in 2006 that the GCSA and the office of the GCSA should
be relocated to the Cabinet Office to reflect and better enable
its cross-departmental remit.
313. These proposals would be easy for the Government
to implement, would put down a marker of the Government's commitment
to evidence-based policy, and would lay the structural and cultural
foundations for a more evidence-focused civil service. To summarise
(also see Figure 4):
314. The role of the GCSA should
be altered. We suggest that the GCSA should be renamed the Government
Chief Scientific and Engineering Adviser (GCSEA). This person
would be the head of profession for science, engineering, social
science and statistics and should have a more senior role in the
Government with direct access to the Prime Minister. The GCSEA
would head up the Government Office for Science and Engineering,
which should be placed in the Cabinet Office. Beneath the GCSEA
should be a Government Chief Engineer, a Government Chief Scientist
and a Government Chief Social Scientist. We recommend that the
Government implement these changes as a priority.Figure
4. Organogram of our recommendations for the organisation of science
advisory structures in Government