4. Embed structures to support evidence



Trustworthiness (T)     Quality (Q)


Look out for these letters throughout this section for indicators of the ‘Think TQV’ approach

Extract from Declaration on Government reform:

“We will not allow hierarchy to impede rapid problem-solving or effective delivery, and ensure we have the right structures in place to deliver the outcomes we want as efficiently as possible”

How organisations are structured, in terms of delivery and governance, is key to enabling analytical leadership. It is important that departmental governance structures (T) have an analytical aspect built into them to embed the expectation and demand for evidence across an organisation and support a culture of decision-making based on sound evidence (Q). Analytical leadership is particularly helped when established governance structures enable analytical professions contribute to policy and decision-making at senior levels. Effective structures are also required to facilitate the orderly publication of evidence (T) for public information needs.

Through our conversations we heard of two important aspects in embedding structures to support evidence. This includes the need to:

  1. Integrate evidence into policy and decision-making;
  2. Establish structures that support cross-profession collaboration.

Integrate evidence into policy and decision-making

Decisions about where analytical teams sit and how their work feeds into policy and decisions (T) are crucial, as they impact expectations for the needs for new evidence; information flows between different professions; and whether the right analytical evidence (V) is available to inform decision makers at the right levels, when needed.

Building on successful collaboration experienced during the pandemic, the Welsh Government has established a Strategic Evidence Board to consider strategic issues around evidence capability, planning and structures. This includes considering areas of work where a joined-up approach to analytical (and scientific) evidence could be useful. The board intends to identify the highest priority evidence needs and works collectively to consider how they can be met, recognising the need for joined up analytical relationships across policy too. The Board assesses evidence needs against the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government and other commitments, to ensure activity is effective and delivering value for money.

As the Board is chaired by the Chief Operating Officer, the board is putting analysis at the top of Welsh Government. Having a Director General as the chair means that Board will also feed into the Executive Committee, thus ensuring the best analytical evidence flows up to the very top of the organisation.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service carried out analytical work on jury trial backlogs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. An analyst modelled recovery scenarios to illustrate how courts might recover most effectively from the pandemic, which played a key part in securing some £12m of recovery funding. This funded the use of cinemas to host socially distanced juries, enabling jury trials to safely recommence in 2020, with some 2,500 jury trials conducted using this approach over 18 months.

This came about because a SCTS statistician who was on secondment from Scottish Government was embedded alongside the SCTS operational team and COVID response team. They were engaged in operational issues and decisions from the start and well placed to use their trusted analytical skills to provide quality analysis that facilitated a positive solution. Regular liaison with justice partners was required to make the scheme a success – and the ability to demonstrate the impact it would have, was critical. This meant that, after the pandemic, Scotland did not have the same jury trial backlog as was experienced in England and Wales.

Structures that support cross-profession collaboration

The previous section showed how collaborating beyond individual professional and organisational silos leads to innovative approaches and new insights that can achieve good outcomes for citizens. However, collaboration is facilitated when departments establish structures (T) that support different professionals to work effectively together and combine the most suitable analytical evidence and techniques (Q) to answer key questions and support effective decisions.

Scottish Government’s Analytical Leadership Group (ALG) is comprised of senior analytical leads from across the range of its service and policy directorates, incorporating professional economic, statistical, social and operational research expertise. The group provides direction for analytical priorities and advises Directors on these where relevant.

The ALG was instrumental in establishing the COVID-19 data and intelligence network during the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped to foster collaboration between the Scottish Government, public bodies, and academics. This led to the development of the cross-analytical Scottish Government COVID-19 Four Harms Dashboard which brought together data and evidence on the social, economic, direct and indirect health impacts of the pandemic. The analyses provided a compliment to the established health data series and were used during weekly COVID-19 strategy meetings and to inform decisions related to the pandemic and Scottish Government’s measures taken in response to it, for example, in relation to its approach to business support schemes and decisions around lifting lockdowns.

The Department for Transport’s (DfT) actionable ‘Think People’ seminars were established to connect people at DfT with academics and experience in the fields of transport and human behaviour.

The seminars provide opportunities for DfT staff across all functions to better understand how people use transport and understand the role that these insights can play in informing policy design. They highlight the importance of understanding the evidence base for policy ideas on a given topic, and ensuring the evidence exists to assess the effectiveness of new policies once introduced.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)’s cross-analytical unit is jointly headed by a senior economist and senior social researcher. The unit provides advice to analysts in the department on analytical standards, specialist skills such as evaluation, business case writing, behavioural insight and operational research, and provides assurance functions such as signing off regulatory impact assessments.

The joint cross-profession headship promotes a multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving and collaboration on cross-cutting topics and issues, which also seeks to bring in scientific evidence.

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