Press release

Engineering advice central to updated guidelines on scientific advice

The updated 'Guidelines on the use of scientific and engineering advice within government' highlight the importance of engineering advice.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The role of engineering advice and horizon-scanning are highlighted in the updated ‘Guidelines on the use of scientific and engineering advice within government’, published today (1 July 2010) by Government Chief Scientific Advisor (GCSA) Professor Sir John Beddington.

The guidelines address how scientific and engineering advice should be sought and applied to enable government policy makers to make better informed decisions. This is the third update of the guidelines and followed a public consultation.

The key messages are that departments, and policy makers within them should:

  • identify early the issues which need scientific and engineering advice and where public engagement is appropriate
  • draw on a wide range of expert advice sources, particularly when there is uncertainty
  • adopt an open and transparent approach to the scientific advisory process and publish the evidence and analysis as soon as possible
  • explain publicly the reasons for policy decisions, particularly when the decision appears to be inconsistent with scientific advice
  • work collectively to ensure a joined-up approach throughout government to integrating scientific and engineering evidence and advice into policy making

The updated guidelines reflect feedback from consultation on the need to highlight:

  • the role and importance of engineering advice
  • the benefits of horizon-scanning
  • the value of engaging with the scientific community’s representative bodies
  • the importance of using international sources of advice

Government Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Sir John Beddington said:

Climate change, security, pressures on the supply of energy, food and water, health and migration pose unprecedented and inter-connected challenges to the world. Science and, particularly, engineering are central to identifying, understanding and addressing these challenges. These updated guidelines ensure that policy makes have access to the high-quality and robust evidence vital for informed decision-making to tackle these challenges.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts MP said:

Government decisions must be made on the basis of hard evidence and high-quality scientific advice. Updating the guidelines will make sure that scientific advice is robust, reliable and relevant to the world we live in.

Notes to editors

  1. The ‘Guidelines on the use of scientific and engineering advice in policy making’ provide a high-level framework for addressing the way in which government departments obtain and use science and engineering advice. The guidelines are available from the Government Office for Science website.

  2. The consultation of the guidelines was held between 17 November 2009 and 9 February 2010. See the government response.

  3. The Government Office for Science (GO-Science) is headed by the Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA), Professor Sir John Beddington. It exists to ensure that government policy and decision-making is underpinned by robust science and engineering and long-term thinking.

Published 1 July 2010