Reviewing science and engineering
The effective use of science and engineering advice (allied to other evidence) in policy making is important. Decisions that don't take into account science and engineering are not robust, and policies that take account of sound evidence are more likely to succeed than those that do not. The credibility of a department's policy making will be undermined if it is perceived to be based on poor, inadequate, or inaccurate evidence.
The Science and Engineering Assurance (SEA) team helps departments use Science and Engineering evidence more effectively, with the aim of supporting the production and use of a robust evidence base to underpin the delivery of a department’s business objectives. The programme also supports the Government Chief Scientific Advisor in his responsibility to ensure and improve the quality and use of scientific evidence and advice in Government.
A major part of the SEA team’s remit over the next two years is a series of Science and Engineering Assurance reviews of major government departments, which will be conducted in partnership with those departments. Reviews aim to produce strategic, effective, and workable recommendations to support and improve a department’s capacity to access, manage, quality assure and use science in policy and strategy. These reviews have been significantly re-modelled based on a Go-Science report feeding back on the first review programme (initiated in 2003). They are now shorter, more strategic, and more outcome focused.
The SEA reviews will draw on information already available from other analytical disciplines and reviews to maximise the benefit to departments, whilst minimising demands on their resources. Evidence from the SEA reviews will also feed into other initiatives, such as the Cabinet Office Capability reviews.
The lessons and good practice identified from each of the reviews will be shared as widely as possible by the SEA team to ensure that maximum benefit is achieved from each review.
The current Science and Engineering Assurance Review Programme will finish by the end of 2012 following the review of HM Treasury. Recent changes announced in the Civil Service Reform plan provide an opportunity to take stock of lessons learned from the current SEA review programme and to consider the most appropriate mechanism for the Successor Science Review Programme.
A Working Group of Chief Scientific Advisers, with representatives from the Cabinet Office and from other analytical professions, has been set up to develop the Successor Science Review Programme.
If you would like further information about the SEA programme, please contact the SEA team at: SEAteam@bis.gsi.gov.uk