The OPMCSA has a small team that provides science-based evidence to the Prime Minister to inform the programme of government. The OPMCSA may also assist Cabinet Ministers with requests for science advice.
Formal Advice can be provided in three different ways:
- In response to an informal, sometimes confidential request – in person, direct to the PM and/or Ministers.
- In response to a request from the PM and/or Ministers – a formal letter containing a quick scan of the relevant literature on a topic of interest, by way of quickly providing advice and scoping an issue for possible future comprehensive research.
- A full and comprehensive report on a well scoped topic. This will generally become publically available and could be:
- Initiated by the PMCSA with agreement from the PM
- Initiated by the PM as part of the core work plan
- Commissioned as a separate project by a Minister
In addition, there are often ‘hot topics’ that emerge due to a rapidly changing research landscape and/or particular public interest. The office will keep a watching brief on these topics and produce clear information summaries from time to time which are uploaded onto the PMCSA website, after prior distribution to the Prime Minister and relevant Ministers, on a no surprises basis.
Wide consultation in the first one hundred days of her tenure, has led to the PMCSA developing a list of topics where a piece of evidence synthesis would likely to be useful to inform the programme of government. We have done a preliminary categorisation of these topics into areas where evidence synthesis is required in a major project, and ‘hot topics’ where there is a large body of evidence available, but a clear summary of the current evidence would inform government and the public. We are now in the process of scoping and prioritising these, having had an initial discussion with the Prime Minister. This is a live document that will be updated regularly as priorities evolve at www.pmcsa.ac.nz/current projects.
Hot Topic Summaries
The following areas have been identified as examples of topics where a clear, well referenced two-page summary of the available evidence might prove useful. We are currently assessing what other information is readily available on these topics and prioritising areas where there is high public interest. Examples include: antimicrobial resistance; greenhouse gases; kauri dieback; myrtle rust; Mycoplasma bovis; solar energy; 1080; asbestos; fluoride; Round-Up.
Topics being scoped for more formal evidence synthesis or narratives
This list was discussed with the Prime Minister and the first piece of work that we are undertaking will be on plastics. The rest are still being prioritised.
|General area||Area to scope||Comments|
|Sustainability||Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa, New Zealand||
|Artificial Intelligence||Opportunities and implications for Aotearoa, New Zealand||
|Climate change||Implications for Aotearoa New Zealand||
|Decriminalisation of drugs||Possible focus on evidence for harm reduction||
|Adaptation to the carbon zero economy||Renewable energy||
|Connecting the Innovation Economy||
How we ‘do’ science in Aotearoa New Zealand
|Earning the trust of the public – understanding social license to operate||
We need to change the relationship between scientists and the public.
A general area of concern across all topics considered.
|Regulation of GE||A specific example of the more general issue of social license –to what extent does Aotearoa New Zealand have social license to use new genetic technologies.||
|Diversity in Science and in science education||We need to understand how to make science more inclusive, both in the framing of its questions and in the people doing the science||
|How will Aotearoa NZ meet its UNDP sustainable development goals||
|Aotearoa NZ’s framework for science advice in emergencies||