The new programme of Science and Engineering Assurance has been developed to provide assurance to Departmental Permanent Secretaries that science evidence is effectively integrated into policy development and delivery
The programme replaces the former Science Reviews, representing a radical change from the original Science Review process. The objectives of the new assurance exercise are to:
- Provide departments with assurance that their policy and practice properly reflects the [natural and physical] scientific evidence presented in its development and whether that evidence was fit for purpose
- Ensure that departments have in place the capability, systems and culture to access, quality assure and use science effectively
Government policy programmes are more defensible and more likely to be successful if they are securely underpinned by a robust evidence base. The focus on high quality delivery and the fast pace of change in modern government requires a fast paced process for checking fitness. This is as true for the use of science and scientific evidence as it is for other areas, like strategy, delivery and procurement.
Science and engineering assurance activity will focus on how science and scientific evidence supports a department’s capacity to meet business objectives. For this reason the engagement and endorsement of Permanent Secretaries and their top teams will be essential to ensure that the assessment delivers outcomes of value to the department.
In addition to the primary purpose of supporting departments’ ability to meet their goals it will also support the Government Chief Scientific Advisor’s (GCSA) responsibility to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to:
- Ensure and improve the quality and use of scientific evidence and advice in Government
- Strengthen the interactions between research communities and policy makers.
The programme was initiated in 2003, since when reviews have been completed and reports published on seven departments.