36. The Code of Practice stipulates that "Scientific
advisory committees should decide on who should represent them
to the media e.g. departmental press officer, independent press
effect, this means that scientific advisory committees have at
their disposal two options: using their home department's press
office or using an independent press office, like the Science
37. In Putting Science and Engineering at the
Heart of Government Policy, we identified the ACMD and Home
Office as an example where a scientific advisory committee being
represented by a departmental press office had proven problematic.
We did not suggest that this example was representative of all
the scientific advisory committees' experiences, but used it as
an example of potential problems. We are assured that there are
other examples where representation by the home department has
been problematic, but the speed with which we have published this
Report has not made it possible to corroborate these claims.
38. The second option, an independent press office,
which is suggested in the principles, may be problematic too.
We have received evidence from the Health Protection Agency and
the Wellcome Trust that an independent press office is "probably
and would not be "an appropriate use of resource".
It would certainly be expensive to set up a permanent independenti.e.
outside governmentpress office for scientific advisory
committees, or even to provide additional resource to an existing
independent press office, like the Science Media Centre, to enable
it to take on the additional work load.
39. It was for these reasons that we recommended
that a small press office be set up within the Government Office
for Science, to serve the press needs of GO-Science and all the
scientific advisory committees across Government.
This recommendation was a half-way house between an independent
press office (that is independent of government) and a departmental
press office. A press office in GO-Science would still be a government
press office requiring little additional resource, but it would
be free of direct departmental control. It would also have the
added benefit of strengthening the role of the Government Chief
Scientific Adviser and GO-Science as the common point of contact
for all scientific advisory committees.
40. We reiterate
the recommendation we made earlier this year that a small press
office be set up within the Government Office for Science, to
serve the press needs of GO-Science and all the scientific advisory
committees across Government.