Three U.K. universities are doing something I doubt their U.S. counterparts have the resources (or the willingness to risk) to duplicate. They have started a process for establishing an Evidence Information Service (EIS) to, as they put it, help put scientists ‘on tap’ for policymakers.
As the organizers explain in The Guardian, this is not a lobbying or advocacy group. The intent is to assist policymakers and politicians in accessing and interpreting evidence. If you want a U.S. comparison, I would suggest the agricultural extension service, though that is targeted toward farmers and other agricultural workers in the field.
The organizers are looking for interested citizens in the U.K. to talk with their elected representatives to get a sense of how they access evidence in their decision making and how they use this evidence. They anticipate a 20 minute semi-structured interview would do the job. Given the more localized nature of U.K. representation, this might be a bit harder to do in the U.S., with town halls and face-to-face meetings a bit harder to manage.
The organizers anticipate operating in two modes, reacting to requests from politicians, and preparing material in advance of parliamentary debates on particular topics. Once an initial funding amount is raised, the organization would be set up as a U.K. charity – independent of parties and government agencies. I like the plan, and hope that the consultation will demonstrate that there would be demand for such a service.
Add this to the list of science policy ideas the U.S. ought to steal.