“We’re here to help.” That was the message delivered by ICE director general Tom Foulkes to a gathering of chief scientific advisors from all departments in Westminster last week.
Foulkes underlined the current level of connectivity between all the main engineering institutions, and how they can provide expert engineering input into the development of government policy. “Identifying and breaking down barriers to realise the full benefits of UK science and engineering is a vital area where we can work together,” he told the group.
“In seeking advice on major issues you’re not faced with 36 voices but one. Under the leadership of the Royal Academy of Engineering, we’re working as a coherent whole from the strategic level right through to the nittygritty of service delivery.”
Foulkes went on to discuss how the downturn can be seen as a once in a generation opportunity to rebalance the economy. He also said the engineering community is developing a common agenda for helping the UK out of the recession – ensuring that investments made now increase the capacity for long term growth. “We are working with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the Department for Transport on a major report to the prime minister on modernising national infrastructure. We are also working on projects across a number of other government departments, and are keen to help on a day to day basis,” continued Foulkes.
At the most basic level we can identify experts who can input into policy making and enhance the evidence base for officials
Tom Foulkes, ICE
“At the most basic level we can identify experts who can input into policy making and enhance the evidence base for officials. “A more sophisticated variation is to create review panels, such as the one providing advice to the Severn Barrage feasibility project, or run independent select committee style inquiries, which are being trialled as a new approach for the ICE’s State of the Nation reports. We can also help bridge the gaps between departments themselves.”
The presentation came amid a flurry of public affairs engagement activity from the ICE. Foulkes also attended the government’s Low Carbon Industrial Strategy summit and is speaking to shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers, on a wide range of transport issues. London First head Baroness Valentine contacted the ICE after reading its budget submission and is looking to work with the ICE team on future transport issues.