Horizon scanning in Government departments

15 July 2013

Horizon scanning is regarded as a useful tool for strategic decision making. Its findings can be used to inform policy, improve operational preparedness or resilience, develop robust strategies and decrease risk exposure.

In January 2013, the Cabinet Office published a review of cross-government horizon scanning, led by the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Jon Day. The Day Review concluded that “the UK does not lack the resources to conduct horizon scanning, but needs to improve upon and formalise the structures for directing work and making use of the end product”.

The Science and Technology Committee has agreed to hold an inquiry into horizon scanning in Government, and seeks written submissions on the following matters:

  • How do Government departments make use of horizon scanning?
  • How effective is horizon scanning in Government? Do Ministers and senior officials consider horizon scanning outputs appropriately?
  • What changes could be made to improve existing horizon scanning activity? Will the recommendations made in Jon Day’s review of cross-government horizon scanning capability address current shortcomings? What progress has been made implementing these?
  • How effective is the Government at responding to policy or regulatory challenges presented by new technologies?

The inquiry will also include three case studies:

  1. 3D printing
  2. autonomous road vehicles and intelligent transport infrastructure, and
  3. negative emissions technologies. In relation to these case studies, the Committee seeks evidence on the following matters:
  • What are (or were) the policy challenges presented by this technology? How have these challenges been identified?
  • How prepared is (or was) the Government to react to challenges presented by this technology? How effective was this reaction?

Submitting written evidence

As part of a scheme to encourage paperless working and maximise efficiency, the Committee is piloting a new web portal for online submission of written evidence. Written submissions for this inquiry should therefore be submitted online.

The personal information you supply will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 for the purposes of attributing the evidence you submit and contacting you as necessary in connection with its processing. The Clerk of the House of Commons is the data controller for the purposes of the Act. We may also ask you to comment on the process of submitting evidence via the web portal so that we can look to make improvements. If you have any queries or concerns about the collection and use of this information or do not wish your details to be used for the purpose of collecting feedback, please advise the Committee  providing your full name, address, and if relevant your organisation.

The Committee invites written submissions on these issues by midday on Wednesday 25 September 2013.

Each submission should:

  1. be no more than 3,000 words in length
  2. be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible
  3. have numbered paragraphs 
  4. include a declaration of interests.

If you need to send a paper copy please send it to:

The Clerk
Science and Technology Committee
House of Commons
14 Tothill Street

Please note that

  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
  • Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised. 
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence. 
  • Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.

Guidance on submitting evidence to Select Committees

Image: iStockphoto

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