Working to make government more effective

Insight paper

Putting analysis and assessment at the heart of government

It is not only during crises that good analysis and assessment is vital.

Rosa Hodgkin Thomas Kelsey
Chris Whitty at a perss conference
Government's use of data analysis was crucial to decision making during the pandemic.

During the pandemic decisions that affected the lives of millions were determined by the ability of government to gather, synthesise and assess data. But good analysis and assessment of data will make for better government outside of crises too, as this paper, the result of collaboration between the Institute and the Heywood fellowship at the Blavatnik School of Government, sets out.

The UK finds itself in a moment of wider technological change. This paper sets out the developments made in data analysis and assessment at the centre over the last few years, the gaps that remain, and proposes an indicative model for filling some of those gaps. It draws on research interviews and two roundtable discussions. 

Although there have been real improvements in analysis capabilities, structures and processes since 2020 in particular, more could still be done to improve the use of analysis and assessment in decision making. Present arrangements developed organically; now is a good opportunity to harness the current momentum and think more strategically about what is required. 

One potential model the paper explores is to create a new unit as an evolution of Joint Data and Analysis Centre (JDAC) and Downing Street's data science function, 10DS, to capitalise on the progress so far and fill some of the remaining gaps. 

This new Joint Analysis and Assessment Centre (JAAC) would:

  • allow for a systematic approach to capabilities and functions
  • have a clear focus and aims
  • focus its assessments closely on cross-cutting issues to prevent duplication 
  • use these assessments to directly inform decision making at the centre 

Rosa Hodgkin is a researcher at the Institute for Government
Thomas Kelsey is a researcher at the Blavatnik School of Government

Related content

18 DEC 2020 Report

Science advice in a crisis

Ministers must improve the way they use and communicate science advice or risk repeating mistakes made during the coronavirus crisis.

01 SEP 2020 Report

Decision making in a crisis

This report examines decisions made in three areas: economic support, Covid-19 testing and the lockdown.