The 10 point action plan
The Council for Science and Technology’s report How Academia and Government can Work Together identifies opportunities to promote the use of academic research in policy making. The report makes recommendations to both academia and Government to strengthen engagement by focusing action in three areas:
- Build relationships and communication
- Build capacity to ensure a more productive engagement
- Rate, value and reward the engagement
The Government welcomes the Council for Science and Technology report and accepts its recommendations. This 10 point action plan, published in July 2009, sets out how the report will be implemented. The actions will be co-ordinated by the Government Office for Science in partnership with key stakeholders.
The action plan identifies new approaches to be piloted and opportunities to enhance ongoing activities with the aim of strengthening engagement between academic research and Government policy making. The pilots will be reviewed by the Government Office for Science and an initial report on what has been learned will be published by the summer of 2010.
The action plan also aims to enhance communication among key stakeholders to promote more co-ordinated, coherent and effective approaches to strengthening engagement between academia and Government.
Build relationships and communication
Promote placements for civil servants to academia
1 Promote placements for civil servants to academia
Work with the Government Science and Engineering Profession to launch a pilot programme to place civil servants in academia. Based on experience gained during the pilot explore ways to extend the placement scheme to the wider civil service. Explore the potential for civil servant placements to support those Higher Education Institutions developing new capabilities and structures for engaging with Government (see Action 7).
2 Promote National Academy pairing schemes
- Work with the Royal Society to support its pairing scheme between scientists and civil servants.
- Work with the British Academy and Royal Academy of Engineering to explore establishing equivalent pairing schemes.
3 Work with Research Councils to support placements from academia to Government
- Work with RCUK to develop and extend across Research Councils placement schemes enabling academics to spend time in Government, building on the public policy placement schemes run by ESRC, NERC and AHRC.
- Work with Research Councils to build on the success of research council funded PhD policy internships, in the context of the overall effort to build the skills of future PhD students.
Build capacity to ensure a more productive engagement
4 Include awareness of the research process as part of Civil Service training
- Work with the National School of Government to ensure that training provided on the analysis and use of evidence includes awareness of the research process and practical steps for engaging with academic research. In the first instance review how these topics are included within Fast Stream training and the Top Management Programme.
5 Support Heads of Analysis, Scientific Advisory Councils, Departmental Chief Scientific Advisors in their role as promoters of engagement between academia and Government
- Work with the Heads of Analysis Group to strengthen the role of the Government analytical professions in contributing to policy making.
- Support the community of Departmental Chief Scientific Advisors through promoting effective networking and sharing of good practice.
- Work with Departments to explore the potential to establish Science Advisory Councils across a broader range of Departments, and support the sharing of good practice.
6 Revise Guidelines on Scientific Analysis in Policy Making
- Include updated guidance on working with academia and other external research organisations. Through the guidelines promote the use of National Academies, other learned societies and Research Councils as sources of expert advice.
7 Support universities as they seek to improve their capabilities and structures for engaging with Government
- Work with Higher Education Funding Councils to explore how well dedicated knowledge transfer funds (such as the Higher Education Innovation Fund) are being used to support knowledge transfer from academia to Government.
- Work with knowledge transfer professionals to promote the sharing of good practice in academic engagement with Government.
- Promote the placement of civil servants to those Higher Education Institutions, National Academies and other learned societies that are seeking to improve their engagement with Government policy making (see Action 1).
- Work with Higher Education Institutions, National Academies and other learned societies to identify and share examples of good practice in training and guidance on how Government works and how to engage effectively with policy makers.
Rate, value and reward the engagement
8 Raise the profile of skills that policy makers acquire through engaging with academia
- Strengthen the "analysis and use of evidence" core skill in the Professional Skills for Government competency framework, including by working with the Government Heads of Analysis Group, Government Skills and other key stakeholders to identify good practice in engaging with external sources of research.
9 Include engagement with external research in the Science and Engineering Assurance exercise
- Ensure that Government departments have in place the capability, systems and culture to access, quality assure and use science effectively.
- Work with all Government analytical professions to ensure that the importance of engagement with external sources of research is recognised and assessed through departmental self-evaluation.
- Ensure that Government departments act on results of the self-evaluation of analytical capabilities through Government Heads of Analysis Group input into departmental Capability reviews.
10 Promote the recognition of policy engagement as a valued part of academic careers
- Work with the Higher Education Funding Council for England and other stakeholders to ensure that policy engagement is explicitly valued in the Research Excellence Framework.
Actions against CST recommendations
|CST Recommendations (core recommendations in bold)||Actions|
|1: World-class internship and secondment schemes
||1, 2, 3|
|2: Support networks between academics and policy-makers
||1, 2, 3, 7|
|3: Training courses for both academics and policy makers
|4: Empower Departmental Chief Scientific Advisers, Scientific Advisory Councils, and Heads of Analysis
|5: Universities to improve their capabilities for engaging with Government
|6: Government should make greater use of bodies such as Learned Societies, CST and the Research Councils
||2, 6, 7|
|7: Highlight the importance of the social sciences to Government policy
||4, 5, 6|
|8: Promote effective knowledge management within the Civil Service
|9: Government should play close attention to the outcomes of the Departmental Science Assurance exercises
|10: Strengthen role of Heads of Analysis Group
|11: Government should support and engage with universities setting up structures to liaise directly with Government
|12: Identify criteria to assess quality within the major categories of academic engagement with Government
|13: Recognise and reward engagement with Government through academic career development
|14: Officials engaging with academia should have the skills they learn valued and rewarded in their career progression
|15: Guidelines on remuneration should be established