Strategic Capacity


Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
In the Swiss political system, the drafting of bills takes place primarily within extra-parliamentary and parliamentary committees. As of November 2019, 116 of these extra-parliamentary committees 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.

In December 2018, the Federal Council decided to reduce the number of committees by 13, but also to create two new committees.

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 committees 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 2016 study by Pleger et al., 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 2017 large-scale cooperative research project by Sager et al. 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.
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“.
For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
Canadian government departments and agencies effectively tap into expertise of academics and other experts outside the government in multiple ways. Many government departments and agencies have 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 or committee-chair positions for periods of one to two years. 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. Her mandate is to provide advice on issues related to science and government policies that support it. This includes the provision of advice on ways to ensure that science is considered in policy decisions and that government science is fully available to the public. According to the latest report, the office has been called upon to provide advice to decision-makers from across government on diverse topics ranging from climate-change research to oceans, from health to the roll-out of the science and research funding programs and strategies announced in the 2018 federal budget.
Office of the Chief Science Adviser of Canada, Annual Report of the Chief Science Adivsor of Canada, 2018. posted at
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 (e.g., 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. The main policies of government programs tend to be elaborated and accompanied by expert commissions. Some reform initiatives in the education and environmental sectors, for example, 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. On a more permanent basis, the Danish Economic Council plays an important role as an independent institution, as politicians heed its recommendations. Since 2007, the number of chairmen of the Economic Council have increased from three to four and the responsibilities of the chairmen (independent experts) have been expanded. They now also head the Environmental Economic Council and the productivity council (meeting EU requirements), and act as the fiscal watchdog (related to the budget law). 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.
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 affairs and tertiary education. The NZ Treasury established a critical friends advisory group in advance of delivery the country’s first Well-being budget in 2019; the Commission for Financial Capability has an advisory group made up of academics and civil society experts. In addition, a Data Governance network and an Indigenous Data Sovereignty Network have been established. The network of Science Advisers established under the previous government has been expanded, and the academic science advisers selected since 2017 have included more women, indigenous and Pacific island experts. Thus, the importance of scholarly advice is increasing. Recent significant consultation initiatives include reports by the Welfare Expert Advisory Group in April 2019 (the government accepted a number of recommendations, including an increase of the amount welfare beneficiaries can earn before their benefit is cut), a Mental Health Inquiry, and the Tax Working Group, also published in April 2019 (the Labour-led administration took a number of recommendations forward but rejected others – in particular, a proposed capital gains tax). Indeed, the current government as increased the number of policy design working groups to the point where the opposition has taken to criticizing it for taking too long to make executive decisions. The government also passed legislation to establish a Climate Change Commission, which will have advisory, monitoring and reporting responsibilities under the Zero Carbon Bill – legislation that will codify the reduction of New Zealand’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.
Ministry for the Environment, Establishing the Climate Change Commission (
Tax Working Group (
Welfare Expert Advisory Group (
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. Increasingly, the parliament also arranges hearings, and invites experts to provide advice and recommendations.
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 2006 to 2014 governments 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).

Dahlström, C., E. Lundberg and K. Pronin (2019), Det statliga kommittéväsendets förändring 1990-2016. SNS Analys Rapport nr 59. (Stockholm: SNS).
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. The final reports of the research projects are made publicly available on the websites of the governmental institutions that requested the study. However, 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.

Other forms of non-governmental expert consultations (e.g., roundtable discussions and workshops) are rather widespread. In preparing the long-term “Estonia 2035” strategy, experts and opinion leaders have been regularly engaged, while the relevant website enables interested citizens to participate in and interact with developing the strategy.
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, which aims to make the use of sectoral research in governmental decision-making more efficient and focused, was adopted in 2013, and implemented between 2014 and 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.
Non-governmental academic experts are consulted as advisers by the government. Most of the ad hoc committees formed by ministers on public policy reforms 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 vary significantly, and they often offer little alternative to ad persona advisory inputs.

In the period under review, following the government turnover of July 2019, the incoming New Democracy government attracted a comparatively large number of qualified experts in a variety of policymaking sectors. Some of these individuals had acquired their expertise and job experience in the private sector, while others had worked in Greek and foreign universities. Previous connections to the New Democracy party proved largely irrelevant to the hiring decisions. This was an improvement over the past, when experts had often been recruited primarily on the grounds of their loyalty to the governing party.
The government has several means of interacting with experts and academics. In 2017, the PMO published “Instructions for Public Participation Guide” to support government offices and public officials cooperate with external experts, and improve collaboration between government offices and the public. In 2019, this is still the main document that has been published in this field. It seems that no new information is currently available.

Overall, 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. In addition, 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. A more recent example from 2019 is the national plan for climate change adaptation. In 2018, the Israeli government started developing national climate change adaptation plans. As part of planning for the implementation of this plan in 2019 – 2020, the government sought advice from various experts and NGOs.

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. In 2018, a new national program for climate control was introduced to bring the government together with environmental NGOs and ecological experts was formed.
Blockchain Technology Takes Hold in Israel: Expert Take, Cointelegraph, 2018 (Hebrew):

“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, 2011 (Hebrew):

Hever, Shir, “The Privatization of Security,” 2012, Van Leer Institute

OECD (2015), “Scientific Advice for Policy Making: The Role and Responsibility of Expert Bodies and Individual Scientists,” OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, No. 21, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Government decision number 2025 on rural development, 2015 (Hebrew):

Government Decision number 4079, “Israel’s preparations for adaptation to climate change: implementation of the recommendations to the government for a strategy and a national action plan,” 2018 (Hebrew):

PMO Office 2017, Instructions for Public Participation, 2017 (Hebrew):

The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change Adaptation plan, 2019,
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).

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.

However, there are also areas where researchers cannot make themselves heard, such as in the school system and state planning (“Raumplanung”). In those areas, advice from members of the University of Luxembourg, for example, is insufficiently heard. With regard to heritage protection, the government held a hearing with civil society organizations between 2013 and 2015. However, these hearings did not produce any results.
“Alles nützt. Alles? In ihrem zweiten Bericht zur Innovation in Luxemburg stellt die OECD vor allem fest, dass es noch immer keine Strategie dafür gibt.” Accessed 19 Oct. 2019.
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 current Mexican government is keen to strengthen relationships with experts and activists from civil society, rather than economists and international professionals. In contrast to former governments, consultations with civil society actors and citizens enjoy high priority. Whether this results in better advice and/or improved legitimacy remains to be seen.
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 government’s willingness to ask for external advice when engaged in institutional redesign (e.g., several panels of external experts were created in 2018 and 2019 to advise the PSOE government in the drafting of the Strategic Energy and Climate Framework). Some recent trends, such as the emergence of several think tanks, may over time strengthen the influence of external experts. In addition, the parliamentary committee tasked with studying Spain’s current territorial model and preparing a report for a constitutional reform organized numerous hearings with experts. The PSOE government (2018 – 2019) appointed a number of scholars and technical experts to high-level positions in the public administration, and increased the overall number of government advisers.
20 minutos, Sánchez nombra a 66 altos cargos y asesores más que Rajoy en 2011
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 previous coalition government (2010 – 2015) took power, the change altered the political orientation of the experts consulted by government. 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 policymaking process. The traditionally strong influence of think tanks has continued, but those of the left-leaning variety (e.g., the Institute for Public Policy Research and Policy Network) have been replaced by more conservative-minded ones (e.g., the Resolution Foundation and the Center for Policy Studies). The interactions are transparent but occur at various stages of the policymaking process and are often initiated by the think tanks themselves. What appears to have changed is the underlying approach to OPM, which has increasingly sought not only to emphasize evidence-based policymaking, but also to identify more appropriate policy solutions. A “what works” team in the Cabinet Office facilitates this process and government departments publish details about their areas of research interest. The Government Office for Science is a unit dedicated to bringing scientific evidence to bear on decision-making. In November 2018, five new business councils, covering major export-sector clusters, were established to advise on how to create the best business conditions in the United Kingdom after Brexit.

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 UK levels 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.

In the negotiation of the EU withdrawal agreement, informal links proliferated, including with think tanks, business interests and academia, but the fundamental political choices were not obviously influenced by expert advice.
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 the 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 the Productivity Commission, which 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 neo-corporatist 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.

There are still some potential exceptions, such as 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. Another exception is the Belgian Healthcare Knowledge Center.
Pension experts’ negative assessment:

Minister’s reaction:
In some policy fields, expert commissions advise policymakers on a regular basis. Most of their members are appointed by the government or by individual ministries. In addition, ad hoc commissions are created to provide scientific advice regarding major reforms that involve complex issues, with the aim of coming to a consensus. A number of other established expert advisory bodies provide the government with expertise and advice, including 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 regular reports on current policy problems (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 often has little visibility, and policymaking is heavily influenced by party positions. Nevertheless, while advisory reports do not have an immediate impact, they do have some influence on political debates within the government, the parliament and among the general public, because they are made publicly accessible.

In addition to these forms of academic advice, the federal ministries are increasingly turning to private consultancies. Between 2014 and 2018, the federal government as a whole spent more than €716 million for external advice (Handelsblatt), with the annual spending rate shown substantial annual increases. By far the largest growth in consultancy spending has come within the Ministry of Defense, followed by the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of the Interior. In sum, costs for external advice amounted to €248 million for 2017, while estimates for 2018 show spending of nearly €300 million. These increasing consultancy budgets have been the subject of debate, with critics questioning whether these contracts are justified and transparently commissioned, and whether they may signal undue influence by consultants within the public administration.

Summing up, scholarly advice is widely available, but day-to-day policies are decided mostly on the basis of internal expertise. Moreover, party politicization of the policymaking process often dominates executive decision-making. In addition, the engagement of expert commissions or other sources of advice is often used as a means of postponing decisions rather than as a true decision-making aid.
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 quite often affiliated with the political party of the minister seeking their advice. Meanwhile, independent experts involved in the policy process have 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 (SIC, Rannsóknarnefnd Alþingis), 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 SIC report. While no data exist on the broader use of expert advice in governmental decision-making, the SIC 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, public confidence in the University of Iceland dropped from 90% in early 2008 to below 80% after the 2008 economic collapse and has since remained around 75% in the Gallup polls (74% in 2018 and 2019).
Gallup, Accessed 17th October 2019.
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 2018, the government set up an advisory panel tasked with reexamining Japan’s defense guidelines, a move intended to expedite the process. 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.

In 2019, powerful Financial Services Minister Taro Aso publicly rejected findings of a Financial Services Agency panel report on the pension system, raising concerns that expert recommendations would in the future be less able to guide policymaking.
Sebastian Maslow, Knowledge Regimes in Post-Developmental States: Assessing the Role of Think Tanks in Japan’s Policymaking Process, Pacific Affairs 91 (2018), 1: 95-117.

Advisory panel in works to speed up review of Japan defense guidelines, The Japan Times, 26 August 2018,

Naoko Furuyashiki, Finance minister Aso blasted for rejecting report on inadequate pension system, The Mainichi, 21 June 2019,
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. Some government planning documents, such as the National Action Plan for Open Government by the State Chancellery, have been drafted in cooperation with NGO experts, following public discussions.

However, the government lacks the finances to regularly commission academic input. Consequently, expert engagement is given voluntarily, without remuneration.

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 forums, TV and radio debates, and op-ed columns. A similar deliberation process preceded the healthcare reforms and, in 2019, the territorial administrative reform. This has increased the status of non-governmental academic experts and government transparency.
State Chancellery (2014), Report, Available at (in Latvian):, Last assessed: 03.11.2019.
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 expert advisory groups (including the so-called Sunset Commission, which involved several independent experts). 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 Government Strategic Analysis Center tasked with generating new evidence for policymaking on the basis of information from the government’s Research and Higher Education Monitoring and Analysis Center (MOSTA).

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. Some initiatives publicly discussed by the government in 2018 – 2019 (e.g., the introduction of vouchers for buying food from small retailers, or the relocation of the Ministry of Agriculture from Vilnius to Kaunas) were not accompanied by impact assessments.
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 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. 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. However, the selection of academic experts 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 leanings rather than their academic expertise. The Moon government has ignored criticisms of policy failures offered by experts with different political perspectives than its own, which makes the process of policy consultation less effective. President Moon himself seems to have neither the willingness nor the inclination to meet and have open talks with experts.
Citations: President Moon appoints senior secretaries. May 11, 2017
The government frequently employs ad hoc 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. Depending on the nature of the policy issues, these experts may flexibly mobilize the required scientific bodies and scientists instead of relying on fixed advisory councils with fixed memberships. This also allows room for political flexibility – that is, by hiring commercial, private consultancies to provide politically desirable research and advice.

Although the use of scientific expertise is quite high, its actual influence on policymaking 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 the wider public. Since 2011, advice has regressed from relatively “strategic and long-term” to “technical, instrumental and mid-/short-term.”

As might be expected in times of political polarization and science skepticism, even members of parliament have expressed doubts as to the integrity of the knowledge institutes and the validity of their information. The research unit of the Ministry of Justice and Safety (Wetenschappelijk Onderzoeks – en Documentatie Centrum, WODC) has been subject to political meddling, and during the debates and deliberations on the climate agreement, the Environmental Planning Agency’s measurement and modeling practices came under regular scrutiny.

Nevertheless, the cabinet still appears to rely heavily on its knowledge institutes and departmental knowledge centers for its long-term strategies and decision-making. The scrutiny by political parties, members of parliament, civil society associations and journalists has generally been beneficial with regard to the transparency of information collection and the policy support provided by the government’s knowledge institutes.
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)

De Correspondent, 17 September 2018. Zo glipt de democratie door onze vingers – en zó vormen we een tegenmacht. (, accessed 4 November 2019)

De Telegraaf, 20 February 2019. PBL: er zijn geen nieuwere cijfers energie dan die van 2017 (, accessed 4 November 2019)

De Volkskrant, 22 February 2019. Waarom de kritiek op planbureaus propaganda is.(, accessed 4 November 2019)
In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
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. 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 Czechia, there are several permanent or temporary advisory bodies, as well as several public research institutions that are closely linked to individual ministries or the Government Office, and which 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 Babiš, the number of official external advisers has fallen sharply to only 11. The scope of their input into policymaking is unclear.
In contrast to some other European countries, the French government does not rely heavily on academic advice, even though the President’s Office and the Prime Minister’s Office frequently consult economists, and outstanding non-governmental academics may be chosen to sit on national reflection councils covering various policy fields (e.g., integration and education). 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. One telling example of this indifference to experts was the decision (in reaction to the modest ranking of French universities in international rankings) to merge the universities within individual cities and regions, under the assumption that larger universities would produce better results. This decision was taken in spite of the opposition of the academic community, and against the evidence provided by, for instance, the American and British university systems. Predictably, the results have been rather disappointing, while several bureaucratic monsters have been born.
By contrast, the reform of the pension system currently being debated has been heavily influenced by experts and economists, to such an extent that its radical U-turn in relation to the past is creating political turmoil.
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. Following Professor Lane’s appointment as chief economist to the European Central Bank, Professor Lane was replaced as governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, on 1 September 2019, by Gabriel Makhlouf, a former secretary to the New Zealand Treasury.

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 then chairman of the council, Professor John McHale of University College Galway, that the 2016 budget violated the rules of the European Union’s Stability and Growth Pact received much publicity. This assertion, however, was quickly withdrawn following a rebuttal by the minister for 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. The Fiscal Advisory Council’s (IFAC) criticism of the government’s excessive reliance on financing increased expenditure through buoyant corporate tax revenues in recent budgets has at least provoked a commitment by the minister of finance in the 2020 budget to produce a Fiscal Vulnerabilities Scoping Paper, which will examine corporation tax over-performance and policy options aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the public finances.

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.
Department of Finance Budget 2020.
Academics are active in several recently-formed independent blogs that may have some influence on policy maker.
These include:
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. Driven particularly by the needs of the country’s EU presidency, this process has become more inclusive since 2017, with many academics providing support for government policymaking. Increasingly, international experts are being commissioned to assist government in policy design and decision-making. The president’s office has currently opened up the issue of constitutional reform to public consultation, and the public has been requested to send in proposals. As yet it is unclear how these proposals will be dealt with.

In addition, the process of developing important strategic plans and policies is being opened to consultation by stakeholders, including NGOs and the general public. Web-based consultation processes have become more refined, and calls for consultation more frequent. Nonetheless, gaps in the consultation process remain. In some policy areas, consultation remains sketchy or minimal, while in others, policy areas stakeholders are brought in only at a late stage. Occasionally, experts selected for the consultation process are accused of having 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.
Slovak governments rely on various permanent or temporary advisory committees. Prime ministers have their own advisory body. Former Prime Minister Fico’s advisers largely came from his circle of associates and included only a few truly independent experts. This pattern has not changed since the 2018 reshuffling of government. 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. Within the ministries, expert advice is provided by so-called “analytical centers,” which are separated units composed of experts with different backgrounds, but a common sense of mission. Under the Fico governments, contact between ministers and non-governmental experts was rather rare, and this has not really changed under Fico’s successor, Pellegrini. The lack of input from external experts often leads to poorly prepared policy drafts, which subsequently have to be revised ex post or withdrawn.
Sedlačko, M., K. Staroňová (2018). Internal ministerial advisory bodies: An attempt to transform governing in the Slovak Republic, in: Central European Journal of Public Policy 12(1), 1-16.
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 for academic quality and independence, but are nevertheless structurally (financially) dependent on government actors. Except with respect to immigration and pension policy, there is no regular academic advisory board, as exists in Germany or the United States.

One consequence of the ÖVP-FPÖ coalition was that the FPÖ did not possess strong traditional links to the neo-corporatist institutions of “social partnership.” This situation automatically created an interest within the FPÖ to reduce the importance of social partners (like the chambers of labor, business and agriculture) as well as the ÖGB, the trade union federation. As the social partners have a certain control over the Austrian Institute of Economic Research, the structural interest of the FPÖ is to take the advice of the social partners and the institute (the social partnership’s brain trust) less seriously. This must be seen as the beginning of a decline in the significance of traditional external expertise.

Another indicator is the relative decline in public and expert consultation regarding new laws and regulations under the coalition government between 2017 and 2019. Reports indicate that expert opinions from different ministries have also been actively suppressed by the government to avoid public dissent. One aspect underlining the tendency to replace public experts with special advisers under the 2017 – 2019 government was the government’s attempts to appoint external experts directly to the offices of the chancellor and ministers. This kind of internalized partisan advice is closed to public observation and hard to hold to account. Non-partisan expertise has been gradually replaced by internal partisan expertise.
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.
Under the PiS government, policymaking has become ideologically driven rather than evidence-based. While the government does consult with experts, these consultations are not very transparent. The government’s ideological approach has led many experts who once showed some sympathy for PiS to break with the party.
Cooperation between the government and non-governmental experts is weakly institutionalized. Consultations are irregular and lack transparency as well as mechanisms that would ensure feedback received is actually accounted for in policy. The dismantling in 2018 of the Ministry for Public Consultation and Civic Dialogue, to ensure systematic public consultation, marked a step backward in the formalization of public and expert consultation processes within the country. No real changes occurred under Dăncilă and Orban in 2019.
In Slovenia, the Government Office and the ministries have various advisory bodies that include academic experts. Prime Minister Cerar, an academic himself, strongly relied on academic and practitioners’ advice when establishing his party platform, coalition and government program. While the Cerar government regularly sought external advice, it often failed to implement it. The Šarec government has behaved in a similar fashion.
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.

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.

The new presidential system, which was fully implemented after the June 2018 elections, includes nine policy councils comprised of experts, NGO representatives and professions who are to advise the president. These councils are entitled to prepare reports on certain public issues and incorporate the opinions of the ministries, relevant public entities as well as other experts.
Cumhurbaşkanlığı Teşkilatı Hakkında Cumhurbaşkanlığı Kararnamesi 1,

Ç. Akman, “Cumhurbaşkanlığı Hükümet Sisteminde Politika Kurulları: Sosyal Politikalar Kurulu Üzerinden Bir Değerlendirme,” February 2019, :
(accessed 1 November 2019)

Z.Sobacıet al.,Turkey’s New Government Model and the Presidential Organization, SETA Perspective No. 45, July 2018.

Y. Üstüner and N. Yavuz, ” Turkey’s Public Administration Today: An Overview and Appraisal,” International Journal of Public Administration, 2017.
U.S. policymaking incorporates scholarly and expert advice in an informal and highly decentralized 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.
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 is sometimes perceived to have a left-leaning bias. On some issues, especially climate change, Republican officials have simply rejected well-established scientific findings. Through 2018 the Trump administration has annulled or withdrawn various environmental regulations (on pesticides, endangered species, and other matters) without addressing the scientific evidence.
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. In 2019, the Department of Agriculture moved scientific research agencies from the Washington, D.C. area to Kansas, apparently for the purpose of inducing most of the scientists to leave government employment.
After 2015, the government appointed scholars to the governing bodies of quasi-governmental institutions. Though the government created consultative bodies to advise it on economic issues, energy policy and geostrategic studies, results on their work are not publicly available.

Despite a long tradition of establishing advisory bodies, their tasks and scope of work has always been limited. The non-binding character of their proposals meant that decision-makers would pay little attention to them.

Institutions in which experts participate, such as the Fiscal Council, the Economic Council and the Scientific Council for research have seen their work and advice mostly ignored.

Generally, the state very rarely seeks advice from external academic experts or, more broadly, thinktanks. Nevertheless, the appointment of a chief scientist and a new scientific council for research in 2018 is a positive development.
1. Chief scientist refuses to stay in his comfort zone, Cyprus Mail, 23 October 2019,
The government does not regularly consult non-governmental academics. A small group of partisan experts selected by the prime minister and other ministers frequently offer strategic and technical advice. However, independent experts are rarely consulted in a transparent way. 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 in the past been involved in the spending review, but only on a short-term basis.

The coalition government between the Five Star Movement and Salvini’s Northern League developed a strong anti-expert rhetorical style that further reduced the space for independent consultation.
The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
The Orbán governments have shown no interest in seeking independent and knowledge-based advice and have alienated many leading experts who initially sympathized with them politically. The culture war waged by Fidesz and the growing restrictions placed on academic freedom have further intensified this alienation. The government has invested considerably in creating a network of partisan experts in fake independent institutions that can influence public opinion and has used such institutions to give a voice to government views in the international debates. There is a relatively new, pseudo-professional Institute, Center for Fundamental Rights (Alapjogokért Központ), which tries to deliver legal arguments against the criticisms voiced by EU institutions and/or Hungarian professional NGOs acting as watchdog organizations. For the politics of historical memory, Veritas Institute plays the same role. The government has also increasingly relied on experts from the University of Nation Service (NKE), which has radically extended its field of activity to all dimensions of scientific and cultural life. Overall, spinning has replaced advice based on facts.
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