Government offers £200k for next chief scientific adviser

Recruitment campaign for successor to Sir Patrick Vallance gets under way
Sir Patrick Vallance. Photo: Photoshot for Civil Service World

By Jim Dunton

02 Sep 2022

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has launched a recruitment campaign to find the next government chief scientific adviser, who will succeed Sir Patrick Vallance.

It is offering a salary of £180,000-£200,000 to the successful candidate. Vallance’s most recently-published rate was bracketed at £180,000-£184,999 as of last September.

In August, Vallance confirmed he would stand down as GCSA when his five-year term ends next year. He is due to become a board member of the Natural History Museum next month before taking over as its chair in 2023.

Vallance and chief medical office Prof Sir Chris Whitty achieved unprecedented national recognition for holders of their respective roles during the height of the pandemic.

Last month Vallance said his time as GCSA had been “both challenging and immensely rewarding”, adding that science and engineering “remain vital for the future prosperity of the UK, and high-quality evidence and science advice should be at the heart of all government decision making”.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said it was “impossible” to fully convey the impact that Vallance had exerted on the national pandemic response.

The job advertisement for Vallance’s successor says the next holder of the SCS Pay Band 4 role should expect to operate “at the cutting edge of science for policy”, supporting and advising the PM, the cabinet, and senior leaders in the civil service.

The GCSA is also head of the Government Office for Science and the government science and engineering profession and co-chair of the Council for Science and Technology, which advises the prime minister on science and technology policy issues across government.

The job advert stresses the need for candidates to “convene and galvanise input” from experts spanning the full range of scientific and engineering disciplines in academia and industry.

As well as the need to ensure the UK’s resilience to respond to future emergencies, it flags work to deal with climate change and the current cost-of-living crisis.

Writing in the applicant pack for the job, cabinet secretary Simon Case said he was looking for a candidate who is “passionate about ensuring that the UK government is world leading in its ability to draw on the best advice that science and engineering can offer”.

In a blog post this week, Vallance noted that Case has recently become a member of the government science and engineering profession – describing it as the cab sec’s first government profession membership.

He also acknowledged the “uncertainty” that the government’s plans to reduce civil service headcount by 91,000 over the next three years would bring for the profession.

“Don’t let this stop you continuing to champion the importance of science and engineering in government,” he wrote.

Recruitment for the next government scientific adviser is being handled by consultancy Odgers. Applications close at midday on 23 September.

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