Select committee attacks ‘flawed’ horizon-scanning programme

The government’s new horizon-scanning programme is “flawed” and contains “substantial weaknesses,” according to the Science and Technology Select Committee.

By Joshua.Chambers

16 May 2014

In a report published last week, MPs said that the programme has failed to incorporate the views of those outside government, and criticised it for poor planning and a lack of ministerial oversight.

“The new programme is little more than an echo chamber for government views. The new bodies that have been created consist entirely of civil servants, effectively excluding the vast pool of expertise that exists outside of government,” said Andrew Miller, the committee’s chair.

He also criticised government for not including the chief scientific adviser, and the Foresight Unit in the department for Business, Innovation and Skills, within the Cabinet Office’s horizon-scanning unit.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said that the unit is overseen by minister for government policy Oliver Letwin, and that it’s had meetings with staff from the Government Office for Science.

“This year we aim to improve the way we bring together government and external experts,” he said, arguing that the unit does seek external views.

“We have not been as quick to publish as we would have liked, but we are taking time to do the work carefully and we are set to publish a number of papers later this year”.

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