CSIRO review to ensure an open discussion on science
The Chief Executive of CSIRO, Geoff Garrett, today announced a review of the organisation’s role in providing science input into policy development.
Dr Garrett said that over the past couple of weeks there had been considerable debate concerning CSIRO and its role in policy, and there had been accusations that scientists were 'gagged'.
'CSIRO does not gag its scientists and this is an issue that the organisation takes very seriously,' Dr Garrett said.
'The review will grapple with the often complex issues implicit in CSIRO’s aim of delivering quality scientific input to policy development – which is one of our major strategic goals.'
Dr Garrett has asked a small team to take responsibility to facilitate the discussions across the organisation.
The members of the team are:
- Dr Tony Haymet (Chair) – in his responsibility as head of CSIRO’s Science into Policy Team, on secondment from his position as Chief, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research
- Dr Jim Peacock, FRS – President of the Australian Academy of Science, and previously Chief of CSIRO Plant Industry
- Dr Joanne Daly – Chief, CSIRO Entomology
- Dr Ron Ekers, FRS – Federation Fellow and President of the International Astronomical Union, and previously Director of the Australia Telescope National Facility
- Dr Bronwyn Harch – Theme Leader, Environmental Informatics, CSIRO Mathematics and Information Sciences
- Dr Steve Morton – Group Executive, Sustainable Energy and Environment
- Dr John Curran – Manager, Internal Communications, and previously Deputy Chief, CSIRO Entomology
- Dr Les Rymer – Policy Adviser, Science into Policy Team
'Each of these eminent scientists have careers of leading or working in policy sensitive areas of research and are thus well qualified to undertake this review,' Dr Garrett said.
'I have asked this team to conduct a series of focus group discussions in the domain of policy development to which we in CSIRO wish to see our science contribute. Currently, there appears to be three main areas where we need to hear views of staff: climate change; energy; and water (including, probably, natural resource management).'
Dr Garrett said the team will approach Divisions and Flagships in which such work is proceeding, and invite participation in focus groups to discuss relevant issues, opportunities, roles, responsibilities and practices. The opportunity will also exist for staff operating in other areas (e.g. with an industry focus) to participate.
Dr Garrett told staff in an all staff email yesterday that “through quality, open and frank discussion, with those of you working in these domains, our objective is to arrive at a more comprehensive and more widely-shared view as to how we continue serving the Australian community through effective, independent, science-based advice and input to policy development into the future”.
Dr Garrett said the terms of reference of the review would be determined by the group and he anticipated it would be completed within the next three months.