It is 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 2014 to 2015 the team will increase its engagement with external experts through:
- roundtable discussions on specific topics
- taking part in ‘communities of interest’ - these groups bring together a range of experts to explore how a particular issue might affect different areas of policy
- setting up the Horizon Scanning Private Sector Network, a network of private sector horizon scanning experts, drawn from a range of firms who either specialise in horizon scanning or include it as a fundamental component of their corporate strategic planning
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 2 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 Government Policy, Oliver Letwin.
The programme is steered by the Cabinet Secretary’s Advisory Group (CSAG), which meets 3 times a year. CSAG focuses particularly on potential implications for policy of future threats or scenarios.
The Cabinet Secretary Advisory Group membership is:
- Sir Jeremy Heywood (Cabinet Office)
- Sir Bob Kerslake (CLG)
- Martin Donnelly (BIS)
- Chris Wormald (DfE)
- Simon Fraser (FCO)
- Sir Mark Walport (GO Science)
- Sharon White (HMT)
- Mark Lowcock (DfID)
- John Pullinger (UKSA)
- Bernard Gray (MoD)
- Jon Day (CO)
- Robert Devereux (DWP)
- Stephen Lovegrove (DECC)
- Una O’Brien (DH)
The Horizon Scanning Oversight Group, a group of director-level civil servants, is chaired by Jon Day. The group reports to the CSAG and coordinates the work of the communities of interest.