In 2009, the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) embarked on a nine-month strategy to improve the way it sourced, handled and used evidence to make policy. It had seen how another government department, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), had developed a strategic approach to managing its evidence base and decided to run a similar process to develop its own Science & Evidence Strategy (S&ES). This case study outlines what happened over the nine months. It contains lessons for others who are helping small government departments or individual policy teams think about their evidence needs in a strategic and systematic way.
Interesting insights from the process implemented by the FSA are: a. The Science & Evidence Strategy document, and the process of producing it, have made a significant difference to how the FSA conducted its evidence-related activities. b. Workshops have been an effective and efficient way of encouraging internal and external participation in the process. c. The new structures put in place to implement the evidence strategy made it apparent that even though there was no significant pressure on program budgets, considerably more internal capacity would be needed to manage evidence programs effectively. d. The involvement and leadership of the FSA’s Chief Scientist team played a key role in the evidence strategy process.
The relevance for Indonesia lies in the fact that the UK’s FSA experience shows a different approach to strengthening the demand of evidence. The FSA had only nine months and limited human and financial resources to develop their evidence strategy and successfully tested the use of workshops. The FSA experience confirms that building an evidence strategy requires a clear set of policy priorities and intended outcomes. This helps focus discussions on the evidence that is most likely to be useful in the short- and long-term. Moreover, when senior management actively engages in an evidence strategy, it sends clear signals that, while they are leading the process, they are also listening carefully to what external stakeholders and internal staff have to say. As with the other working papers, this does not mean that the approach adopted by FSA can be copied and pasted to Indonesian ministries. However, we think that it can inspire thinking and discussion on whether and how to introduce similar processes in Indonesia.
This working paper is part of a series that is being published by KSI in Bahasa Indonesia and English to document and share specific international experiences about process, systems, and institutions in the knowledge sector. These publication contribute also to profiling KSI in Indonesia and internationally. Each working paper is complemented, when possible, by additional knowledge products such as info graphics and video podcast interviews with authors.