Civil servants need better training in stats, the Liberal Democrats say in a paper discussing science, maths and stats education and the need to ensure public policy is more securely based on evidence.
As the party convenes its annual conference in Brighton, the Liberal Democrat policy paper says ’civil servants would be better equipped to fulfil their roles if they were trained in the basics of statistical science, evidence-based policy, and the scientific method’. It does not say whether these gaps in Whitehall have become more obvious now that Liberal Democrat ministers in the coalition are witnessing them at close quarters.
The paper, drafted by the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert, pleads for more training, and more recruitment of civil servants with a background in science and engineering. MPs need better access and familiarity with statistics, too, it says and advocates a beefed-up role for the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.
The paper proposes an independent Office of Science Responsibility to check departments were using evidence in their decision making. It is not clear whether this would count as a new quango, reducing the number culled by the Coalition government.