The coalition Government made a commitment to review public bodies, with the aim of increasing accountability for actions carried out on behalf of the state. The triennial review of the research councils is one of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) reviews of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) scheduled to commence during the second year of the programme (2012-13). The review will commence at the beginning of January 2013. This is not a review of the policy relating to funding in research, to which the Government remain committed.
The review will be conducted as set out in Cabinet Office guidance, in two stages.
The first stage will:
identify and examine the key functions of the research councils and assess how these functions contribute to the core business of BIS;assess the requirement for these to continue;if continuing, then assess delivery options and where the conclusion is that a particular function is still needed examine how this function might best be delivered, including a cost and benefits analysis where appropriate; and if one of these options is continuing delivery through the research councils then make an assessment against the Government's "three tests": technical function; political impartiality; need for independence from Ministers.
If the outcome of stage 1 is that delivery should continue through research councils then the second stage of the project will be to ensure that it is operating in line with the recognised principles of good corporate governance, using the Cabinet Office "comply or explain" standard approach.
When completed the report of the review will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.