Engineering in government: follow up to the 2009 report on Engineering: turning ideas into reality - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

The engineering community

1.  We commend the work of the Engineering the Future alliance in coordinating engineering advice for government. (Paragraph 4)

The civil service

2.  Since the 2009 Engineering report it would appear that progress has been made in recognising the importance of engineering in the civil service. We are pleased that the Government has begun identifying engineers in the civil service, albeit through a self-nominating group. However, it is not clear whether enough engineers in the civil service are being employed in policy development as well as policy delivery and we invite the Government to provide us with a breakdown of the roles of engineers in the GSE community as an indicator. (Paragraph 11)

3.  We welcome the recruitment of a Head of Engineering to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. However, given that few other examples of good practice were highlighted during our inquiry, we are concerned that DECC's recognition of the need for engineering expertise may be the exception rather than the rule across Government Departments. (Paragraph 12)

Chief Scientific Advisers

4.  We reiterate our predecessor Committee's view that the Government Chief Scientific Adviser should be a Government Chief Scientific and Engineering Adviser, overseeing a Government Chief Engineer, a Government Chief Scientist and a Government Chief Social Scientist. The Prime Minister should give consideration to this proposed structure when considering Sir John Beddington's successor in the post of Government Chief Scientific Adviser. (Paragraph 15)

5.  We recognise that it may be economically unfeasible or risk a duplication of effort to appoint Chief Engineering Advisers alongside Chief Scientific Advisers in all departments. However, we consider that in departments where engineering advice is routinely required, the Government should consider appointing a Chief Engineering Adviser instead of, or in addition to, a Chief Scientific Adviser. (Paragraph 16)

Council for Science and Technology

6.  We are satisfied that the Council for Science and Technology (CST) has sufficient representation of engineers amongst its membership. However, it is unclear whether the CST adheres to the Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees (CoPSAC). The Government should clarify this immediately. If the CoPSAC does not apply to the CST, the rationale must be made clear and a code of practice for the CST should be published. (Paragraph 18)


7.  Since the 2009 report Engineering: turning ideas into reality, the Government and engineering community have made progress in integrating engineering expertise and concerns into the formulation of policy. The formation of the Engineering the Future alliance as a coordinated voice for the professional engineering community and the ongoing efforts of the Government Chief Scientific Adviser in raising the profile of engineering advice are particularly commendable. However, there is no room for complacency and the Government must ensure that engineering continues to have a high profile in policy, and particularly in policy development. (Paragraph 19)

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Prepared 30 April 2012