Strategic Capacity


How influential are non-governmental academic experts for government decisionmaking?

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
For major political projects, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
There are a number of different ways that Canadian government departments and agencies effectively tap into expertise of academics and other experts outside the government. Many government departments and agencies have multiple advisory committees, which can have considerable influence but rarely dominant policymaking. Government departments and agencies often commission experts to organize research projects on high-profile issues.

In addition, a number of government departments and agencies appoint academic experts to advisory positions or chairs within the organization for a one-to-two-year period. Examples of this type of position – and hence of the influence of experts on policy – include the Clifford Clark Visiting Economist Chair at the Department of Finance and the Simon Reisman Visiting Fellowship within the Treasury Board Secretariat. Similar posts exist at the Competition Bureau and the Bank of Canada, among others. In recent years, these positions have often been vacant for long periods. Finally, external academic experts are frequently asked to meet with senior government officials, either on a one-on-one basis or as speakers at departmental retreats.

In September 2017, Mona Nemer was named Canada’s new Chief Science Officer. Nemer’s task is to integrate scientific evidence into government decision-making and make that evidence publicly available.
Technocratic institutions and practices play an important role in government decision-making. Experts from academia, NGOs, partisan think tanks and the private sector are very influential in the preparation of government (presidential) programs and the development of policy reform proposals by presidential or ministerial technical commissions. These technical commissions, which are charged with proposing policy reforms in specific areas (education, pension, social and wage policies, minimum wage policy, fiscal rule, etc.) or for singular policy challenges (corruption), tend to have significant impact on government legislation. Commissions are largely comprised of experts, and to a minor extent of representatives of interested parties, and cover a wide political spectrum. This kind of technical input into the policymaking process belongs to the technocratic tradition in Chilean politics. As a political practice, this can be described as institutionalized, as both the former and the current coalition followed this tradition. Under the government of Michelle Bachelet, the main policies of the government program were elaborated and accompanied by expert commissions. Some reform initiatives in the education and environmental sectors have been accelerated or even blocked due to ideological differences within the commissions dealing with the issue. Experts (economists in particular) are a key factor in drafting the reform proposals submitted to the president or to ministers.
Denmark’s political administration draws to some extent on in-house expertise. For most policy areas, however, policymakers rely on advising councils or expert committees. For example, when policymakers formulate health policies, they need to consult with medical experts outside of the government. In addition, the Danish Economic Council plays an important role as an independent institution, as politicians heed its recommendations. The responsibilities of the chairmen has been extended (and the number of chairmen extended from three to four), since 2007 they also head the Environmental Economic Council and the remit of the Economic Council has been extended to also comprise a role as fiscal watchdog (related to the new budget law) and productivity council (meeting EU requirements). The chairmen prepare reports that are then discussed by members representing unions, employers, the central bank and the government. The reports typically garner media attention. The chairs are non-partisan and usually serve for several years before returning to academia.
Jørgen Grønnegård Christensen, Peter Munck Christiansen og Marius Ibsen, Politik og forvaltning. 3. udgave. Copenhagen: Hans Reitzels Forlag, 2011.

Website of the Danish Economic Councils: (accessed 20 April 2013).

Det Økonomiske Råd 1962-2012 - Et jubilæumsskrift, De Økonomiske Råd, København.
There is a significant degree of academic influence on policymaking in Norway. Economic and social research helps guide policy to a significant degree. Academics are regularly involved in government-appointed committees for the preparation of legislation. On a more informal level, various departments regularly consult academic experts from a range of academic disciplines. Academics are active in public debate (e.g., by writing newspaper articles) and their views often prompt replies and comments from senior politicians.
The government’s search for scholarly advice is today less institutionalized than it was 25 or 30 years ago when Royal Commissions would almost always include experts and scholars. With the decline in the Royal Commission institution (most commissions today are one-man task forces given 18 or 24 months to look into an issue and produce a final report), the government now seeks scholarly advice on a more ad hoc basis.

There are some positive signs, however. The former government increased the number of boards or advisory groups where scholars (often, but not always, bona fide sympathizers of the ruling parties) could offer input and advice. There is a similar pattern among agencies that set up scientific councils to provide advice. There also appears to be a trend among agencies to organize hearings and public debates to bring in a variety of views on current issues. This can be seen not least in the context of administrative reform where commissions and agencies like the Swedish Public Management Agency frequently organize these kinds of meetings.

Overall, the government department staff solicits advice or other contacts with external actors less frequently than in the past. Communication is today managed in detail and there are disincentives to open up to external actors at sensitive stages of the policy process. The extent to which the government remains open to scholarly advice depends much on how politically salient the issue is. When policymakers seek scholarly advice, it is in most cases ad hoc and selective.

A recent study by Garsten, Rothstein, and Svallfors argues that “policy professionals” – networks of non-elected but highly influential policy experts – have significant influence on policymaking and policy design.
Garsten, C., B. Rothstein and S. Svallfors (2015), Makt utan mandat: de policyprofessionella i svensk politik (Stockholm: Dialogos).
Non-governmental academic experts played an important role in conducting independent reviews of central government policy or strategy during the post-1997 Labour governments. They have worked on the economics of climate change (Sir Nicholas Stern), the future of the pension system (Lord Turner), a review of health trends (Sir Derek Wanless) and fuel poverty (Sir John Hills). Established academics have also served in decision-making bodies such, as the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England since 1997 when the Bank of England was made independent of government. These academics have thus been given substantial influence over core decisions. Most government departments solicit external studies on policy-relevant issues and are supported in doing so by a new Cabinet Office team called Launchpad. The reports are subject to normal procurement rules, typically with a restricted call for tenders.

When the coalition government took power, the change altered the political orientation of the experts consulted. However, a further shift in practice was due to the commitment to what is known as open policymaking (OPM), under which policymakers are called on to actively seek broader inputs into the policy process. The traditionally strong influence of think tanks has continued, but those of the left-leaning variety (e.g., Institute for Public Policy Research, Policy Network) have been replaced by more conservative-minded ones (e.g., Resolution Foundation, Centre for Policy Studies). The interactions are transparent, but occur at various stages of the policy process and are often initiated by the think tanks themselves. What appears to have changed is the underlying approach to OPM toward emphasizing not just evidence-based policymaking, but also identifying new and better policy solutions. A “what works” team in the Cabinet Office facilitates this and government departments publish their areas of research interest. The Government Office for Science is a unit dedicated to bringing scientific evidence to bear on decision-making.

There are also many informal channels through which government consults or is briefed by individual academics who have expertise in specific areas. These channels are often more influential than more formal consultation processes. One recent example was the review of the balance of competences between the EU and the national level, in which several government departments made very extensive attempts to engage with academics. Civil servants are routinely involved in academic events, and benefit from professional policy training and the Trial Advice Panel. The Trial Advice Panel, which consists of experts from within government and academics, supports civil servants to design experimental and quasi-experimental assessments for programs and interventions.
The extent and impact of academic consultation is framed by the overall pattern of government decision-making. Limited strategic capacity in the center and a tendency to pass policy-formulation initiatives to the line ministries makes the overall picture fragmented and uneven. Final reports of the research projects are made publicly available on the websites of the governmental institutions that requested the study. However, 25% of these studies are not made public, and the remaining ones are difficult to find due to the varying web architecture maintained by the ministries and agencies. The quality of the terms of reference, and as a result the quality of the commissioned studies themselves also varies largely. Even more importantly, the majority of the studies (63%) were commissioned simply to obtain overviews of problems. The use of studies for policy decision-making purposes was clearly proven in the case of 46% of those reviewed.
National Audit Office (2015). Activities of the state in commissioning studies. (accessed 02.10.2015)
The government predominately organizes the collection of scholarly advice informally, for example, by consulting scientific experts on committee report drafts. Some formal bodies, such as temporary working groups, ad hoc committees and permanent councils, also exist. In general, various permanent and non-permanent committees play an important role in structuring scholarly advice in government decision-making. An example of a permanent group that advises the government and ministries in research and technology matters is the Research and Innovation Council. A government resolution on a comprehensive reform of state research institutes and research funding was adopted in 2013; it aims to make more efficient and focused use of sectoral research to support governmental decision-making. Implementation of this resolution was underway from 2014 to 2017. The Prime Minister’s Office makes a yearly plan for realizing strategic research objectives and calls for the systemic use of research projects and data for decision-making, steering, and operating procedures. Projects under the government’s strategic research goals are managed by the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland.
The government has several means of interacting with experts and academics. Experts can sit on independent public committees to examine the causes and consequences of a specific event or incident, such as the Trajtenberg Committee that was formed following the 2011 social justice protests. They can also serve in permanent committees that consult with the government on a regular basis, such as the National Economic Council in the PMO or be summoned by parliamentary committees to present opinions or to offer a different perspective on a certain issue. Finally, think tanks and research institutes act as a brokers between the academic world and politics, advocating and offering information on current events and policy issues. On security and other issues such as foreign policy, the government tends to consult experts from the military rather than academics. Ministers often appoint an external advisory committee to assist with specific issues. One significant example is the Shashinsky Committee, appointed by the minister of finance to examine government fiscal policy on oil and gas. Israeli ministers also often consult informally with academic experts, primarily to receive guidance that is not influenced by political interests.
“Conclusions of the committee for the examination of the fiscal policy with respect to oil and gas resources in Israel,” State of Israel official publication, January 2011:

Hever, Shir, “The Privatization of Security,” 2012, Van Leer Institute
Luxembourg’s main research institutions were founded only recently. For instance, the national university was founded in 2003. Three additional national research centers (CRP-Gabriel Lippmann, CRP-Henri Tudor, CRP-Santé) were founded in 1999, which were later combined into two research centers: the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER). The House of Innovation also provides space for about 500 scientists and researchers from CRP-Henri Tudor, Luxinnovation and the Dr. Widong Center in Esch-Beval.

For major policy reform projects, the government mostly consults highly reputable institutions abroad. This has the advantage that scholarly advice from institutions abroad allows for independent analysis. Considering the country’s small size, links between government and national research facilities are strong.
Annuaire de la compétitivité 2016. Union des Entreprises Luxembourgeoises, 2016. Accessed 7 Dec. 2017.
New Zealand
In terms of frequency and intensity of policy advice, the relevance of external academic experts for governmental policymaking depends on the subject area. Non-governmental academics with technical expertise can have a significant role in policy areas such as health, energy, social policy and tertiary education. In general, the importance of scholarly advice is increasing. The most recent initiatives in this regard include the establishment of a Maori Language Advisory Group and an expert panel tasked with overseeing the overhaul of Child, Youth and Family, a service agency subordinate to the Ministry of Social Development. One of the innovations of the 2008-17 National government was the appointment of a Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.
Eichbaum, Chris und Richard Shaw: Minding the Minister? Ministerial Advisers in New Zealand Government, New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 2007, Vol. 2: 95-113.
Eichbaum, Chris und Richard Shaw: Revisiting Politicization: Political Advisers and Public Servants in Westminster Systems, Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration and Institutions, 2008, Vol. 21, No. 3: 337-363.
In the Swiss political system, the drafting of bills takes place primarily within extra-parliamentary and parliamentary committees. As of November 2017, 119 of these extra-parliamentary committee existed, with government-selected members that included academics, representatives of interest groups and parties, individuals with particular expertise and other such experts. While there are multiple criteria for selecting members, the government seeks a balanced representation of language groups, political parties and ideologies and other societal interests. Academics are selected on the basis of academic profile, but their allegiance to political parties or other societal interests may also be taken into account.

Thus, while expert commissions and their members do have a dominant influence on governmental decision-making, the influence of academics per se is much more limited than is the influence of the politically constituted groups as a whole. In addition, the share of academics on these commissions is rather limited, amounting to about 11% of all seats. However, the combined total of academics and high-level federal and canton civil servants (who usually have academic training) accounts for about half of all commission seats.

In Switzerland, public policies are regularly assessed by evaluators who have had academic training. According to a recent study (Pleger et al. 2016), about 50% of these evaluators felt influenced or pressured by stakeholders; about the same level as in the United States, but considerably less than in Germany and the United Kingdom (about 80%).
This finding underscores the importance of evaluations for policymaking. A large-scale cooperative research project concluded that policy evaluations not only play an important role for policymaking in the executive-administrative nexus but also contribute to decision-making in parliament and to a lesser degree in direct-democratic decision-making (Sager et al. 2017; Sager 2017).
Lyn Pleger, Fritz Sager, Michael Morris, Wolfgang Meyer, and Reinhard Stockmann 2016: Are Some Countries More Prone to Pressure Evaluators Than Others? Comparing Findings From the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland, American Journal of Evaluation, DOI: 10.1177/1098214016662907

Sager, Fritz (2017). “Evaluation and democracy: do they fit?” Evaluation and Program Planning.

Sager, Fritz, Thomas Widmer und Andreas Balthasar (Hg.) (2017). Evaluation im politischen System der Schweiz – Entwicklung, Bedeutung und Wechselwirkungen. Zürich: NZZ Verlag, Reihe „Politik und Gesellschaft in der Schweiz“.
The federal government has always made extensive use of scientific and specialist scholarly advice, particularly in areas such as health and medicine, and science and technology.

Since the late 1990s, and particularly since 2007, the federal government has funded a range of specialist centers and institutes aimed at undertaking fundamental research and planning, the findings from which feed into government policy. Examples include government support for regulation and compliance centers at the Australian National University, with the Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet), and the establishment of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, which is a postgraduate faculty set up by the Australian and New Zealand governments, and by the state governments in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

Despite these formal mechanisms, academic influence on government decision-making is relatively limited, particularly in economic and social policy domains. Australian governments accept advice on technical issues, but much less so on political and economic issues. The notable exception is that the Productivity Commission draws on expert advice when conducting inquiries and reviews.
Consultation with non-governmental academic experts depends on the subject matter; their actual influence on eventual decisions is quite limited most of the time, and certainly marginal when compared to the influence of experts who are attached full-time to ministerial cabinets (see below). The government and/or the parliament do consult full-time academic experts with independent views, but not in a systematic way (this is left to the initiative of parliamentary committees), and not necessarily to generate genuine scientific debate. However, in Belgium’s neocorporatist system, representatives of the social partners (employers’ organizations and trade unions) are systematically summoned for participation when a strategic decision is to be made on socioeconomic issues. In other politically sensitive areas (e.g., tax reform) academic and international expertise has had very limited influence.

One potential exception is the National Committee for Pensions, which is composed of three subcommittees. The first is composed of the traditional social partners. The second is made up of government experts from the various institutions involved in pension funding, an innovation that should enhance coordination in the typical Belgian web of institutions and shared responsibilities. The third subcommittee is composed only of academic experts. This subcommittee is the direct heir of the Commission for Pension Reforms set up by the previous government. However, a key reform aimed at ensuring long-term sustainability was blocked by the first subcommittee.
Pension experts’ negative assessment:

Minister’s reaction:
Czech Rep.
In the Czech Republic, there are several permanent or temporary advisory bodies and a number of public research institutions that are closely linked to certain ministries and the Government Office and partly depend on state funding. Within the cabinet, there is a unit consisting of consultants and advisers to the prime minister, whose task is to evaluate the substantive content of legislative materials and to prepare a strategic agenda for the government. Under Prime Minister Sobotka, the number of official advisers has more than doubled and prominent academics, researchers, and former ministers are among them. In particular cases, the government tends to follow external expert recommendations.
In some policy fields, expert commissions advise policymakers on a regular basis. Most of their members are appointed by the government or by respective ministries. In addition, ad hoc commissions are created to provide scientific advice regarding major reforms that involve complex issues. There are other established expert advisory bodies providing the government with expertise and advice, such as the German Council of Economic Experts (Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung) and the German Advisory Council on the Environment (Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfragen), which produce reports on current policy problems regularly (the former at least once a year, the latter every four years).

Most ministries maintain external, academic or legal advisory bodies. However, the impact of experts is often less visible and policymaking is heavily influenced by party positions. Nevertheless, while advisory reports do not have an immediate impact, they do bear some influence on political debates within the government, the parliament and among the general public because they are made publicly accessible.

Concerning migration, currently Germany’s most important challenge, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has created the Academic Advisory Council to provide expert advice and scientific research. In addition, a research group within the federal office analyzes migration and integration issues. This research group collaborates with scientific facilities and other institutions, domestically and internationally.

Summing up, scholarly advice is available for high level policies, but day-by-day policies are decided upon with low levels of external and internal expertise because party politicization of the policymaking process dominates executive decision-making.
Non-governmental academic experts are consulted as advisers by the government. Most of the ad hoc committees formed by ministers on public policy reform are staffed by academic experts. Qualified academics often serve as experts across all sectors of the economy and administration, where they also act as administrative elites, which simply do not exist in Greece’s highly politicized civil service. Moreover, the size and quality of policy think tanks varies significantly, and often offers little alternative to ad persona advisory inputs.

However, in the period under review, the government regularly consulted young academics, based largely on ideological inclination and/or loyalty to Syriza leadership. The fact that they were well-meaning and committed to their advisory tasks did not compensate for their lack of familiarity with management or policymaking either in the public or private sector.
Governments occasionally consult academic experts. Typically, these experts are trained lawyers who provide advice on the preparation of specific laws or public administration practices, but economic and engineering experts have also been consulted. Moreover, these experts are often affiliated with the political party of respective minister seeking their advice. Meanwhile independent experts involved in the policy process have previously complained that their views were ignored. Thus, impartial, non-governmental experts should not be considered to have had a strong influence on decision-making.

However, the 2008 economic collapse changed this pattern. The need for scholarly advice on judicial, financial, and economic issues, as well as on questions of public administration, increased markedly. This was particularly the case with the April 2010 parliamentary Special Investigation Committee (Rannsóknarnefnd Alþingis) report, which investigated the causes of the economic collapse. A number of experts in various fields – including law, economics, banking, finance, media, psychology, philosophy, political science and sociology – contributed to the report. While no data exists on the broader use of expert advice in governmental decision-making, the Special Investigation Committee experience may have expanded the role of experts overall.

Foreign experts are occasionally called upon. In 2017, four teams of foreign economists were asked to evaluated Iceland’s monetary policies and prospects.

Academic experts called upon to advise the government are commonly viewed as being politically partisan. This has reduced public confidence in academic expertise in Iceland. According to GALLUP, a market research firm in Iceland, public confidence in the University of Iceland dropped considerably from 85% before 2008 but is recovering now and was 76% in 2017.
The Japanese government is assisted by a large number of advisory councils. These are traditionally associated with particular ministries and agencies, with some cross-cutting councils chaired by the prime minister. Such councils are usually composed of private sector representatives, academics, journalists, former civil servants and trade unionists. The question is whether advisory boards truly impact policymaking or whether the executive simply uses them to legitimize preconceived policy plans. The answer may well vary from case to case. In some instances, LDP-led governments have used outside expertise to overcome opposition to policy changes and reform. Think tanks, most of which operate on a for-profit basis, play only a limited role in terms of influencing national policymaking.
Pascal Abb and Patrick Koellner, Foreign Policy Think Tanks in China and Japan:
Characteristics, Current Profile, and the Case of Collective Self-Defense, International Journal 70 (2015), 4: 593-612

Sebastian Maslow, Knowledge Regimes in Post-Developmental States: Assessing the Role of Think Tanks in Japan’s Policymaking Process, forthcoming in Pacific Affairs 91 (2018), 1.
The decision-making system is transparent and open to public participation from the point at which policy documents are circulated between ministries in preparation for review by the cabinet. At this stage, experts and NGOs have the opportunity to provide input on their own initiative.

Most ministries have developed good practices in the area of public consultation. For example, ministries often seek expert advice by inviting academics to join working groups. However, the government lacks the financial capacity to regularly commission input from the academic community. Consequently, expert engagement is given voluntarily, without remuneration. The number of NGOs participating in working groups and consultative bodies increased in 2014. However, the number of NGOs that submitted comments on draft laws or participated by offering comments in public consultation processes declined.

The tax reform in 2017 saw a wide array of international and domestic experts propose and debate reforms across a broad spectrum of government committees, public discussions, TV and radio debates, and op-ed columns. A similar process is now underway with reforms to the health care system. This increased the status of non-governmental academic experts and government transparency.
State Chancellery (2014), Report, Available at (in Latvian):,
Last assessed: 22.11.2015.
Lithuanian decision-makers are usually quite attentive to the recommendations of the European Commission and other international expert institutions. They are also receptive to involving non-governmental academic experts in the early stages of government policymaking. The governments led by Andrius Kubilius and Algirdas Butkevičius set up some expert advisory groups (including the so-called Sunset Commission, which involves several independent experts). For instance, experts commissioned by the Ministry of Social Security and Labor drafted a new “social model,” which contained a comprehensive set of proposals for the regulation of labor relations and the development of a more sustainable state social-insurance system. This package was approved by the parliament in 2016. The Skvernelis government, however, has not renewed the mandate of the Sunset Commission. Instead, the government decided to develop a center for evidence-based policymaking involving the government agency MOSTA among other government entities.

However, major policy initiatives are usually driven by intra- or interparty agreements rather than by empirical evidence provided by non-governmental academic experts. In many cases, expert recommendations are not followed when the main political parties are unable to come to a political consensus. In addition, the rarity of ex ante impact assessments involving experts and stakeholder consultation contributes to the lack of timely evidence-based analysis. For example, debates on amendments to the Alcohol Control Law, which was adopted by the parliament in 2017, were affected by the lack of timely evidence-based analysis.
In the Mexican political system, barriers between the government and scholars are comparatively low. It is quite common for a cabinet to include recruits from academia, and there are also substantial informal contacts between academics and high-level public officials. By the same token, former government officials often teach at universities. The Mexican government is keen to strengthen relationships with technical experts, including economists and international relations professionals, particularly those who hold higher qualifications from outside Mexico and have worked for international organizations or U.S. think tanks. Furthermore, the government receives policy advice from international organizations, such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Moreover, applied research has played an increasing role throughout the last two decades in the scientifically grounded evaluation of social programs.

However, the procedures by which academic advice is sought are often not formalized, a fact that leads not only to a frequent lack of transparency on relations between academia and politics, but also to policy advice being often obtained on an ad hoc basis. Regarding the role of intellectuals in society, in general, they are held in high esteem.

Despite pressure from civil society on a number of issues, such as corruption, impunity and insecurity, consultations with civil society actors often fail to achieve concrete results. A lack of political will, rather than a lack of discussion or input from societal actors, has often stalled progress. Important reforms have been on the agenda for many years. What is clear is that President Peña Nieto’s commitment to transparency is limited, and that he has adopted an opaque policy style. His motto in pursuing reform is “politics, politics, politics,” thus giving preference to political activities (negotiating, campaigning, ordering, overruling policy opposition, etc.) rather than broad-based policy dialog.
South Korea
Non-governmental academic experts have considerable influence on government decision-making. Within the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee, 14 out of 30 members are scholars (professors). Indeed, three out of four members of both this group’s policy and administration subcommittee and the diplomacy and security subcommittee have an academic background. In addition to a presidential advisory committee, scholars are often nominated for top government positions. President Moon has appointed Chang Ha-sung, a professor of economics at Korea University, to be presidential senior advisor for policy affairs, and Cho Kuk, a professor at Seoul National University’s law school, as a senior presidential secretary for civil affairs. The Fair Trade Commission’s newly appointed chairperson,, Kim Sang-jo, was a professor of economics at Hansung University.

Academic experts participate in diverse statutory advisory bodies established under the offices of the president and prime minister. Advisory commissions are usually dedicated to specific issues deriving from the president’s policy preferences. For example, the appointments of Chang Ha-sung and Cho Kuk can be interpreted as reflecting the current administration’s determination to reform the country’s chaebol (conglomerates) and prosecution system by appointing academic experts in these areas. However, the selection of academic exerts is often seen as too narrow and exclusive. The process of appointing experts remains highly politicized, and in the past experts have often been chosen because of their political inclination rather than their academic expertise.
Citations: President Moon appoints senior secretaries. May 11, 2017
Spanish policymaking is not strongly characterized by the involvement of independent researchers either in the executive branch or in the legislature (see “Summoning Experts”). There is no formalized and systematic connection between the government and external thinking. Policymakers do not rely on specialists for advice on matters of political strategy, although university scholars, think tank analysts and practitioners are often consulted by ministries on legal, economic, welfare and international issues – particularly at the beginning of any legislative process to prepare the draft bill and to assess its impact. The deep political and economic crisis may also have facilitated the Spanish government’s willingness to ask for external advice when engaged in institutional redesign (e.g., two panels of experts were created in recent years to advise the Popular Party government in its pension- and university-system reforms). Some recent trends, such as the emergence of several think tanks, may over time strengthen the influence of external experts. Also, the parliamentary committee tasked with studying Spain’s current territorial model and preparing a report for a constitutional reform will organize numerous hearings with experts.
2014, Independent expert group: “ERAC Peer Review of the Spanish Research and Innovation System” tfls/MICINN/Prensa/FICHEROS/2014/14 0801_final_report_public_version.pdf
The government frequently employs commissions of scientific experts on technical topics like water management, harbor and airport expansion, gas drilling on Wadden Sea islands and pollution studies. The function of scientific advisory services in departments has been strengthened through the establishment of “knowledge chambers” and, following U.S. and UK practice, the appointment of chief scientific officers or chief scientists as advisory experts. These experts may – depending on the nature of policy issues – flexibly mobilize the required scientific bodies and scientists instead of relying on fixed advisory councils with fixed memberships.

Although the use of scientific expertise is quite high, its actual influence on policy cannot be estimated as scholarly advice is intended to be instrumental, and therefore is not yet welcome in the early phases of policymaking. It is certainly not transparent to a wider public. Since 2011 advice has regressed from relatively “strategic and long-term” to “technical, instrumental and mid-/short-term.”
R. Hoppe, 2014. Patterns of science/policy interaction in The Netherlands, in P. Scholten & F. van Nispen, Policy Analysis in the Netherlands, Policy Press, Bristol (ISBN 9781447313335)
In some cases, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
Due to the fragmented structure of the cabinet, there is no coherent pattern of using scholarly advice. The extent to which each ministry seeks systematic academic advice is up to the individual minister.

Economic and financial policy is the only area in which general scholarly advice is commonly sought and available. Two institutions established respectively by the social partners (the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (Österreichisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung)) and through a mix of public and independent funding (the Institute for Advanced Studies (Institut für Höhere Studien) regularly articulate specific opinions such as economic forecasts. Governments typically take these two institutions’ work into account when making policy.

Both institutes have an excellent reputation concerning their academic quality and independence, but they are nevertheless structurally (financially) dependent on government actors. Except on immigration and pension policy, there is no regular academic advisory board, as exists in Germany or the United States.
In Bulgaria, there are various ways to consult stakeholders and experts, including a special online portal at the Council of Ministers and more than 70 advisory councils. The government has also started to seek out expertise by forming public councils linked to specific ministries. There are no formal routines for consulting academic experts during the course of government decision-making, but representatives of academia and research institutes are traditionally included in the process on an ad hoc basis.
Council of Ministers, public consultations portal:

Council of Ministers, advisory councils portal:
In 2009, Professor Patrick Honohan of Trinity College Dublin was appointed governor of the Central Bank of Ireland. This marked a break with the tradition that the retiring permanent secretary of the Department of Finance would succeed to the governorship. Following his retirement toward the end of 2015, the government announced the appointment of another academic, Professor Philip Lane of Trinity College Dublin, as his replacement.

The Fiscal Advisory Council is an independent statutory body, comprising five experts, mainly drawn from academia. It was established in 2011 as part of a wider reform of Ireland’s budgetary procedures. The council is required to “independently assess, and comment publicly on, whether the government is meeting its own stated budgetary targets and objectives.” The claim made by the council’s chairman, Professor John McHale of University College Galway, that the 2016 budget violated the rules of the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact received much publicity. This assertion, however, was quickly withdrawn following a rebuttal by the Minister of Finance. Nonetheless, the council stuck to its criticism of the 2016 budget as excessively expansionary. Following his retirement, Professor McHale, was replaced as chairman of the Fiscal Advisory Council by Professor Seamus Coffey of University College Cork.

Academics have regularly held advisory posts in government ministries, including the prime minister’s office and the Department of Finance. Advisers meet regularly with their ministers but there is no information on the impact on policymaking of the advice proffered. There is no established pattern of open consultations with panels of non-governmental experts and academics, although some ad hoc arrangements have been made from time to time.
Academics are active in several recently-formed independent blogs that may have some influence on policy maker.
These include:
The government does not regularly consult non-governmental academics. A small group of partisan experts selected by the prime minister frequently offer strategic and technical advice. However, independent experts are rarely consulted. Important legislative proposals do not benefit from an institutionalized, open and transparent consultation process. In the finance, culture and labor ministries the role of external experts is more established. Independent academic experts have been involved in the spending review, but only on a short-term basis.
Consultation processes involving academic experts has always been rather intermittent, but since 2013, such experts have been involved in a greater number of areas including family issues, gay rights, care of the elderly, health issues such as diabetes, IT in schools, and others. With the exception of standing parliamentary committees, which regularly consult with academic experts, the government tends to consult with outside experts in an issue-based and ad hoc manner. Academic input is at the line ministry level. Policy issues have at times been the focus of studies directly commissioned from faculties, institutes and other bodies. Information required by the government may also be contracted out on an individual basis. In 2017, two academics were consulted during the drafting of a white paper on a new inspections process. When drawing up new key policy indicators (KPIs) on public administration academics from across Europe were commissioned to prepare the report. Malta’s EU presidency served to bring academia closer to government policymaking with many academics providing support during the six-month presidency.

The government has increasingly used policy documents when inviting consultation with NGOs and experts. In other cases, calls for expression of interest have been the method. However, Malta does not have a formalized process of consultation and this makes the process rather patchy, with one ministry consulting regularly and others rarely. However, consultation with experts sometimes gives rise to accusations of conflicts of interest.
PA Chief insists Paceville consultants had no conflict of interest Malta Today 02/11/16
Paceville Master plan:Mott Macdonald should refund payment aftet alleged conflict of interest Independent 23/11/16
The government utilizes academic experts for research on a wide variety of topics and to implement strategic development. However, they are mainly used on an ad hoc basis, and without a systematic academic-consultation mechanism in place.
Cooperation between the Romanian government and non-governmental academic experts traditionally has been only weakly institutionalized. Under the Cioloș government, some progress has been made. Since November 2015, the newly created Ministry of Public Consultation and Civic Dialog has been responsible for facilitating communication between government and non-governmental experts and the greater society for major political projects. Under the PSD governments, however, the relationship between the government on the one hand and civil society and many academic experts on the other have been strained. Minister of Education Liviu Pop, for example, has ignored criticisms of his decisions to weaken key oversight bodies and grant agencies (CNATCDU and UEFICDI) by appointing professors close to the PSD but lacking solid research and innovation records. Since mid-2016 foreign academics have been excluded from these bodies and they are no longer consulted before policy is submitted by government to parliament.
Slovak governments rely on various permanent or temporary advisory committees. The current government has 15 such bodies. Prime ministers have their own advisory body. Prime Minister Fico’s advisers largely come from his circle of associates and include only a few truly independent experts. There are several public research institutions with close linkages to ministries that are largely dependent on state funding and provide their analysis to the government. However, the impact of any of these bodies on decision-making is not really transparent. Prime Minister Fico does not publicly include non-governmental academic experts outside of his circle in government decision-making processes.
The 2009 Societal Consultation Codex, which serves as a set of guidelines for the policymaking process, mentions the consultation of academic experts. In practice, however, the involvement of academic experts in the policymaking process remains rare. Moreover, it is largely limited to the early phases of policy formulation and does not extend to the final drafting of legislation, let alone the monitoring of implementation.
In contrast to some other European countries, the French government does not rely much on academic advice, even though the President’s Office and the Prime Minister’s Office frequently consult economists, and though outstanding non-governmental academics may be chosen to sit in national reflection councils covering various policy fields (integration, education, etc.). But the influence of academics is not comparable to what can be found in many other political settings. High-level civil servants tend to consider themselves self-sufficient. Once the government has chosen a policy strategy, it tends to stick to it without significant discussion over the appropriateness or effectiveness of choices made. There is nothing comparable in France to the economic institutes in Germany, for example, the opinions of which serve to guide the government and offer a platform for public debates.
While the PiS government consults with experts, policymaking has become ideologically driven rather than evidence-based. In the case of education reform, for example, expert assessments were almost completely disregarded. The government’s ideological approach has led many experts who once showed some sympathy for PiS to break with the party.
In Slovenia, the Government Office and the ministries have various advisory bodies that include academic experts. Prime Minister Miro Cerar, an academic himself, strongly relied on academic and practitioners’ advice when establishing his party platform, coalition and government program. While the Cerar government has regularly sought external advice, it has often failed to implement it.
In former years, the frequency of participation by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and experts in political decision-making processes were increased. In addition to working with pro-government think tanks, the government consults with academic experts in the context of projects sponsored by the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union.
However, the spectrum of communication with outside experts is narrowing, as the government has begun to recruit its own experts to provide alternative but not critical opinions on relevant issues of public policy. Policymaking is increasingly biased. As Turkish politics has become increasingly polarized, the government and the ruling party have seemed to shut themselves off from broader societal influences, basing decision-making increasingly on information provided by loyal personal or clientelist networks. Several academics who had previously worked with the government were recently dismissed from their university positions due to their associations to Gülenist organizations.

Public institutions’ annual activity reports provide no indication of how often expert opinions have been requested. Selected groups of scholars participate in the preparation of special expert reports related to the national development plans. The Turkish Academy of Sciences has been critical of the lack of scholarly cooperation with public institutions.
Türkiye Bilimler Akademisi, 2014 Faaliyet Raporu, (accessed 27 October 2015)
Mevzuat Hazırlama Usul ve Esasları Hakkında Yönetmelik, 19.12.2005, (accessed 27 October 2015)
As with the role of strategic planning and other expert units within government, the Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress have drastically subordinated or ignored sources of independent academic or research-based advice. They have preferred to act on campaign promises, ideological viewpoints, or the demands of their donor- and/or voter-base without regard for expert analysis.

U.S. policymaking incorporates scholarly and expert advice in an informal and unsystematic manner. Along with university-based experts and analytic agency staffs, there are a few hundred think tanks – non-governmental organizations that specialize in policy research and commentary. The Obama administration made extensive use of the scholarly talent pool in its first term, but less so in its second term. Most think tanks do little original research, specializing instead in drawing on existing knowledge to produce partisan, ideologically oriented commentary and recommendations on policy issues. None of this analysis has the official or authoritative status that might derive from an official expert panel. The lack of formal, representative panels that make authoritative consensus assessments of research findings probably permits policy analysis to be more partisan and tendentious than it would be otherwise.

In general, Republicans and conservatives have been less supportive of the institutions in government and academia that undertake research and policy analysis than Democrats and liberals – partly because such research sometimes does have a left-leaning bias. On some issues, notably climate change, many legislators are highly willing to reject well-established scientific findings. In short, the flow of policy-relevant research is voluminous, but the policymaking process is relatively open to severely biased or unreliable analysis.

In 2017, the administration and Republican-controlled Congress ignored mainstream academic advice, not only on climate change (a long-standing policy area of Republican resistance to advice), but also health care (repealing Obamacare) and tax reform. Republicans developed and passed a major tax reform bill that was estimated to add $1.5 trillion to the 10-year deficit and was endorsed by virtually no academic economists.
Scholars were appointed to the governing bodies of quasi-governmental institutions and to newly created consultative bodies, from 2014 onwards. These bodies’ tasks related to economic issues, energy policy and geostrategic studies. Also, in some cases, the administration has sponsored research by institutes or universities.

This continued to a certain extent through a Cyprian tradition of setting advisory bodies. Their tasks and scope of work were limited to informing the public, raising awareness on specific issues, drafting reports or making proposals. The non-binding character of their proposals meant that little attention was paid to them by decision-makers. One example is the Fiscal Council, which has seen its advice not taken into account by the government.

Generally, consultation between government and external academic experts has not been an established practice. With regard to new bodies, little or no information regarding their work and roles is publicly available.
1. Fiscal Council is right to query pension fund compensation, Opinion, Cyprus Mail, 23 August 2017,
The government does not consult with non-governmental academic experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
The Orbán governments have shown no interest in seeking independent advice and have alienated many leading experts who initially sympathized with them politically. The third Orbán government largely relies on two lavishly sponsored major policy institutes, Századvég and Nézőpont. Whereas Századvég has traditionally focused on the mid-term issues, Nézőpont has supported the government in everyday decision-making. In the period under review, there have been some scandals surrounding the financing of Századvég and the quality of its products. There is a relatively new, pseudo-professional Institute, Center for Fundamental Rights (Alapjogokért Központ), which tries to deliver legal arguments against the criticism of Orbán government by the EU institutions and/or the Hungarian professional NGOs as watchdog organizations.
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