Experience, strengths and needs in capacity building for evidence uptake SECURE Health Partners Planning Meeting 9 December 2013 Dr Aaron Goater Scientific Adviser (Environment and Energy) Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
What does POST do? POST’s role is to keep UK Members informed about science and technology issues relevant to policy. We prepare written briefings – 20-30 per year We bring researchers and MPs together (at seminars, receptions, etc) We provide an impartial source of information to inform but not to influence debate. Our ultimate aim is to promote evidence-informed debate in Parliament. Our key role is to support UK Parliament but we also do some international work.
Capacity Building Experience • Ugandan parliament capacity building programme (2007-12) • 2013 • Ugandan S&T committee visit • Ugandan parliamentary staff fellowship • DfID bioenergy project advisory role
2007-12 Ugandan Programme • Gatsby Foundation, £250k, 2007-12 • Similar aims to SECURE: • Strengthen ability of Ugandan parliamentary staff on science and technology (S&T) • Strengthen ability of MPs to scrutinise S&T • Build profile of parliamentary committee on S&T • Build POST’s understanding of S&T issues in developing world. • Increase awareness amongst partner organisations of importance of S&T capacity
Baseline review • Research to understand needs of Ugandan parliament • Interviews and focus groups with MPs, staff and scientists • Expert review of internal policy briefings • Analysis of selected Ugandan parliamentary debates on S&T • Review of S&T committee work
Baseline Findings MPs and staff lacked confidence on S&T MPs did not see S&T as relevant to daily life S&T committee had poor attendance and low profile within and outside parliament Staff lacked skills and resources needed to provide objective, well reference briefings on S&T Both MPs and staff had limited networks with external scientific community.
Approaches Develop skills in identifying and using resources on S&T Build confidence in handling S&T issues Help develop networks Build up MPs interest, use of resources and networks
Evaluation - staff Improvement in quality of internal briefings Number of staff with specialist knowledge of S&T has increased Staff are better able to access information on S&T Staff have a more positive attitude to S&T Staff have better networks Benefits appear focused on individuals participating More evaluation... MPs, POST, wider impacts
Lessons for future To build institutional capacity, internal processes for sharing best practices need to be in place. Future programmes should bring together experts in both capacity building and in parliamentary process. Focussing on a single country allows multiple process to be trialled in single country. Focussing capacity building activities on parliaments helps to build awareness of the importance of the scrutiny process. Disruptions caused by elections need to be anticipated and planned for. Working with parliamentary staff avoids loss of continuity at elections.
POST capacity assessment • Staff primarily skilled in delivering on-the-job training. • Strengths • Research methodologies • Research and parliamentary contacts
Further Information firstname.lastname@example.org www.parliament.uk/post www.eptanetwork.org
Needs To understand the aims of internships and logistics. Current understanding is that the aim would be to provide experience of writing policy briefings and understand process by which UK parliament handles research evidence To maintain continuity of project in light of changing staff and small team.
Why is evidence important to policymakers? People regard many different types of information as “evidence” – even newspaper articles and personal anecdotes. But these cannot be seen as reliable. Systematic evidence is underpinned by robust and transparent research which can be replicated. Policy which is based on systematic evidence is seen to produce better outcomes. Use of systematic evidence replaces opinion-driven politics with rational decision making. Evidence of a scientific nature presents particular challenges.