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Facts and Findings

Science advice to government in the United Kingdom

by Alex Nice, Tom Sasse

The UK’s model is relatively unusual in organising its system of science advice around the Government Chief Scientific Adviser. What can we learn?

This short paper provides an overview of how science advice is provided to central government in the United Kingdom. It discusses how the science advice structure functions during a crisis, focusing on the pivotal role played by the Government Chief Scientific Adviser and the Chief Medical Officer.

In Great Britain, there has long been a differentiated system of scientific policy advice. Structures and functions have proven themselves in many cases.

The Government Chief Scientific Adviser plays a central role. He coordinates the committees of scientific policy advice, has direct access to the government and assumes the central spokesperson function there. For health issues, there is also a Chief Medical Officer.

In the Corona crisis, the advisory system was adapted to new requirements. The scientific side worked well in the pandemic. Therefore, the question arises to what extent it could be a model for scientific policy advice in Germany.


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