UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: Science Minister launches consultation on Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees

Press Release   •   Sep 17, 2010 10:47 BST

A consultation on updating the Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees (CoPSAC) was launched today by the Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts and the Government Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Sir John Beddington.

The importance of maintaining strong relationships between independent advisers and government, promoting the highest levels of openness and transparency and the need to effectively engage the scientific community are at the heart of the Government’s consultation. 

Today’s launch follows the publication of the Government’s revised Guidelines on the use of scientific and engineering advice in policy making and Principles of Scientific Advice to Government.  These Principles are now reflected in the Ministerial Code.

Both of these documents highlight important steps that have been made recently in embedding good practice for the management and use of scientific advice. And it is hoped that updating CoPSAC will, in parallel, underline developments in good practice for the operation of Scientific Advisory Committees.

Mr Willetts said:

“Getting expert scientific advice is fundamental to ensuring that policy is credible and sustainable. This consultation on the Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to promoting scientific advice of the highest quality.

“I hope that the scientific community takes this opportunity to have their say on how these important guidelines should be updated.”

Sir John Beddington, who leads on the provision of scientific advice to government, said:

“It is critical that the Government has access to high quality, independent science and engineering advice to inform policy development. The role of Scientific Advisory Committees is invaluable in providing this advice.

“We are updating CoPSAC to ensure that our guidance on how to maintain the systems that support the provision of this expert advice are sufficiently robust and, crucially, relevant to today’s world.”

Responses are welcome from individuals and organisations providing scientific advice to government, the broader scientific community and the public.

The Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees provides practical advice on the operation of Scientific Advisory Committees, covering topics such as good practice on communicating with the public and the rights and responsibilities of committee members.

Notes to editors

1. For media queries, contact Rachel Clarke, BIS press office, Tel: 18002 020 7215 5945 or email:

2. The Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees (CoPSAC) was first published in 2001. It was reviewed and revised most recently in late 2007 following a public consultation.

3. A public commitment to consult on CoPSAC was made prior to the publication of the final ‘Principles of Scientific Advice to Government’, to ensure that those key messages were reflected in this practical guidance.

4. CoPSAC contains practical guidance on the operation of Scientific Advisory Committees.

5. All Scientific Advisory Committees – whether or not formal Non Departmental Public Bodies – are covered by this guidance.

6. BIS' online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See for more information.


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