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Social Science Research Committee

Volume 552: debated on Friday 9 November 2012

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has commissioned an independent review of the Social Science Research Committee (SSRC) in line with the Cabinet Office requirement that all non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) should be reviewed every three years. The SSRC is an advisory NDPB which provides the FSA with independent expert advice on the use of social science evidence. The review will be carried out by Helen Lucas (Lucas Associates Ltd), an external independent consultant and will be complete by the end of December 2012. The review process will include consultation with the committee chair and members, key stakeholders and the FSA chief scientist. The report of the review together with the responses to the review recommendations from FSA and the SSRC will be published on the FSA’s website in July 2013.

The main objectives of the review are to assess:

whether there is a continuing need for the function provided by the committee;

whether the role, remit and the status of the committee is clearly defined and appropriate to provide this function and to ensure it has the most impact and value;

the methods of operation and effectiveness, including committee’s terms of reference and composition and the openness and transparency of its procedures (including with reference to the standards set out in the CoPSAC1 and the good practice guidelines2);

the relationships between the committee, the commissioning Department and other bodies with related responsibilities (in particular the other scientific advisory committees that advise the FSA);

the implementation of the recommendations from the FSA’s 2002 report3 on the review of scientific committees, the revised code of practice for SACs and the current governance structure; and

adherence to the principles laid out in the 2005 Royal Society Report4 on potential social science insights for risk assessment.

This review is part of the FSA’s rolling programme of independent reviews of the Scientific Advisory Committees (SACs) that advise the FSA.