In the last week I have had a number of requests from the press asking for my comments on proposals for the development of the science and innovation system emanating in recent days from political parties.
It is important that the Office of the Chief Science Advisor remains an independent advisor to the Prime Minister of the day and therefore should not get caught up in the partisan debates implicit in the electoral process. While not part of the State Services, I agreed with the Prime Minister and the head of DPMC that I would follow the convention that public servants adopt of avoiding comment that could be interpreted as political during the three months leading up to the election.
At times this can be frustrating, as I am tasked with communicating about science and generally like to assist the media. I see an analogy here with my views about the role of scientific advice to policy makers, which I wrote about in my discussion paper Towards better use of evidence in policy formation and some of my related speeches.
It is important that I respect the boundary between advice and policy formation, and between advocacy and knowledge brokerage. It is equally important that, despite the close association between my Office and that of the Prime Minister, the independence of the Office is preserved and it stays out of the electoral process.