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Government Office for Science
The UK Government Office for Science, headed by Sir Mark Walport, has published its 2014 annual report. It covers the functions of the office, including the key workstreams for 2013-14:
- science, big data, analytics and the City [of London] - creating a new alignment [use of big data in finance]
- opening up scientific research data [G8 and open data]
- Alan Turing Institute [UK research capabilities in data science]
- Climate change; science and communication [there was also a House of Commons committee report on this in 2013]
- Chief Scientific Adviser's forthcoming report on innovation, risk and regulation
- horizon scanning [there was another parliamentary committee report on this as well]
- foresight - manufacturing, city futures, demographic change, ageing society, computer trading in financial markets, and migration and global environmental change.
The UK House of Commons Science and Technology committee has published a report on its inquiry into Government Horizon Scanning. This concludes that current efforts have weaknesses, citing the separation of efforts from the new Cabinet Office hub (created following the Day Review) and the established Foresight Unit in the Government Office for Science. One area of difficulty is on terminology, with horizon scanning, futures analysis, visioning and other ideas being only approximately defined and used interchangeably in some cases. External engagement is recommended as a key development to provide challenge and broader perspectives.
A very valuable resource on science advice in government in the UK is available from the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy - report edited by Rob Doubleday and James Wilsdon, previews and seminar media are available on the website
An interview with John Beddington on science advice, public engagement, risk and science policy. Final emphasis on climate change. Not sure that I agree with his view of media caution and chemical regulation in the environment: although it is true to say that there is a heavy emphasis on hazard derived from laboratory information, the problem with using risk effectively is that data to allow good calculation of environmental risk are difficult to obtain (although much better in the past couple of decades), particularly when thinking of the combined effects of different chemicals in the environment. The emphasis on hazard has come about not solely as a result of public attitudes - negative impacts of regulation by risk based on lab data in the past has been problematic.
John Holdren, Director of the US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, has issued a memo on scientific integrity in government. This follows the earlier 2009 memo from the US President. /...
Strong emphasis on the responsibility of the resposibility and accoutability of agencies for the integrity of science and scientific decsion-making. A different emphasis from the UK GOS principles of scientific advice and Guidelines for the use of science and engineering advice in Government released in June 2010.