Horizon scanning is about exploring what the future might look like to understand uncertainties better.
It’s not about making predictions, but systematically investigating evidence about future trends. Horizon scanning helps government to analyse whether it is adequately prepared for potential opportunities and threats. This helps ensure that policies are resilient to different future environments.
The Horizon Scanning Programme team coordinates strategic horizon scanning work across departments, drawing on insights from experts in and outside government to challenge our thinking.
In March 2014, the Cabinet Office’s Horizon Scanning Secretariat and the Government Office of Science’s Horizon Scanning Centre were merged to form the Horizon Scanning Programme team. This joint team combines the two teams’ expertise and networks to strengthen the programme and its outputs.
The Horizon Scanning Programme team is responsible for:
- coordinating work between departments and input from experts outside the Civil Service, through creating communities of interest around specific topics;
- improving cross-government horizon scanning work by using a wide range of expertise to obtain new insights and challenge current thinking;
- developing networks to gather and share information and to gain new insights;
- bringing emerging issues to a senior-level audience, as well as commissioning work on areas of interest
Ministerial oversight of the programme is provided by the Minister for the Cabinet Office.
The programme is steered by the Cabinet Secretary’s Advisory Group (CSAG), which meets at least three times a year. Chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and formed of a number of permanent secretaries on an agenda-by-agenda basis, the CSAG focuses on potential implications for policy of future threats or scenarios.