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Science and Technology Committee publishes report on engineering in government

02 May 2012

The civil service has made progress in recognising the importance of engineering, according to a new report from the parliamentary Science and Technology committee, but MPs remain concerned that few examples of good practice were highlighted across government departments.

Science and Technology Committee chairman, Andrew Miller MP said that if the government is serious about rebalancing the economy it must give more of a priority to engineering advice.

The Committee commends the work of the professional engineering community and of the current Government Chief Scientific Adviser in raising the profile of engineering advice. However, the report reiterates previous recommendations that there should be a Government Chief Scientific and Engineering Adviser overseeing a Government Chief Scientist, Government Chief Engineer and a Government Chief Social Scientist.

Although the government has formed the Government Science and Engineering (GSE) community, it is still unclear how many engineers are employed in the civil service, and whether enough engineers are engaged in policy development.

Andrew Miller adds: "Engineering is vitally important to society and although the government has raised the profile of engineering over the past few years, it cannot become complacent. This report is a continuation of the Committee's scrutiny of engineering and as such, we are excited to begin a new inquiry looking at engineering skills."

The Science and Technology Committee report, Engineering in Government is a follow-up to the 2009 report Engineering: Turning ideas into reality.

Engineering the Future is an alliance of professional engineering institutions and bodies hosted by the Royal Academy of Engineering. The alliance submitted evidence to the committee's inquiry, identifying improvements in government's use of engineering advice and where progress had not been optimal.

Philip Greenish, chief executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, gave oral evidence to the committee on behalf of Engineering the Future. At the witness session he said: "...we have seen quite a substantial change in how the Government looks to the engineering profession and, perhaps even more so, how the engineering profession organises itself so that it can support and respond to government's needs."

Engineering the Future supports the conclusions and recommendations of the committee and its recognition that while progress has been made, there are still significant opportunities for government to improve and increase the extent that it utilises engineering expertise and advice.

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