Our governance

How the DSAC works.

The Defence Scientific Advisory Council closed in October 2016.

We are accountable to the Secretary of State for Defence who delegates the day to day activities of the council to Min (DEST). Secretary of State is answerable to Parliament for the policies and performance of this body, including the policy framework within which it operates.

Code of practice

DSAC adopts the government’s code of practice for scientific advisory committees

Public service values

Members must at all times:

  • observe the highest standards of impartiality, integrity and objectivity in relation to the advice they provide and the management of this public body
  • be accountable to Parliament and the public more generally for its activities and for the standard of advice it provides
  • comply fully with the code of practice on access to government information

Standards in public life

All DSAC and ISTA register members follow the 7 principles of public life set out by the committee on standards in public life.

DSAC Secretariat

The DSAC Secretariat function is carried out by the Defence Science and Technology Strategy (DST-Strategy) DSAC office in MOD:

Floor 1 Zone K
MOD Main Building

Tel: 020 7218 7996 Email: DST-StrategyDSACOffice@mod.uk

The DSAC secretariat provides support for the council and also maintains a register of independent experts. Any enquiries regarding DSAC and its operation should be directed to the DST-Strategy AD office who can also be approached regarding published reports.

Role of DSAC independent members

Members of DSAC have collective responsibility for the operation of this body. They must:

  • engage fully in collective consideration of the issues, taking account of the full range of relevant factors, including any guidance issued by the sponsor department or the responsible minister
  • adhere to the code of practice on access to government information (including prompt responses to public requests for information) and agree an annual report
  • respond appropriately to complaints, if necessary with reference to the sponsor department
  • ensure that council does not exceed its powers or functions.

The independence of DSAC’s advice

All DSAC’s advice should be truly independent. To ensure this, working parties are formed by independents and can include co-opted members from external bodies of experts including the ISTA register. Each working party has a DSAC member as chair with a MOD sponsor of at least ‘2 star level’ who agrees the terms of reference, provides appropriate access in MOD and receives and responds to the reports of the working party. Any responses to the report are external to the report itself and are fed back to DSAC and the working party to consider and address as appropriate. Such feedback and subsequent responses are then registered along with the original report.


DSAC studies need to be timely and focussed to make an impact. The output from the study to sponsors and stakeholders is a summary report that highlights the main findings and provides recommendations that are assigned to the appropriate MOD personnel. MOD is asked to provide an initial response to the report within 4 weeks, with a follow up response after 6 months providing details on how recommendations have been addressed.


Independent members are recognised specialists and experts in science, engineering, technology, or medicine who are appointed to provide independent advice to the Secretary of State for Defence. None work in MOD or its agencies, and their main employer is usually academia, industry, the NHS or the Department of Health.

The other type of member is an official member. These are staff from MOD or Dstl (or occasionally another government department) whose main role is to provide the information about MOD and Dstl, and their activities, which the independents need to generate relevant advice.

What is meant by independence?

Independent members are appointed in a personal capacity, because of their individual knowledge and expertise. They are not appointed because of any job or position, which they hold. Their advice should reflect the personal nature of their appointment: it should be based on their personal views, as experts, of what is best for the MOD. Their advice should not represent the interests of their employers or any other organisation.

DSAC is an advisory body. It has no executive function or authority within MOD. The style and tone of its reports and recommendations should reflect its status as a high level advisory group.