Business departments merge but future benefits are uncertain

Following the merger of the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to form the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills committee will publish a report: "The future of science scrutiny following the merger of DIUS and BERR" at 11.00 am tomorrow, Friday 12 June 2009, downloadable from the committee's website, URL below.

Phil Willis MP, Chairman of the committee has described the merger as an, "Ill-thought out re-organisation" and noted: "Machinery of government changes announced on 28 June 2007 created a new Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. Today, just short of its second birthday DIUS is to merge with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to become the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. It is fair to say that DIUS has had a rocky two years. The Cabinet Office Capability Review scored it poorly in several key areas. The impact of separating different elements of the education system has led to problems particularly in Further Education and this may have been a contributory factor in the current problems with the capital programme for Further Education Colleges".

Jonathan Baume, general secretary of the FDA, which represents more than 18,000 senior public servants and professionals across the UK said: "More than £7 million of taxpayers' money has been wasted so far in setting up the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and then abolishing it 20 months later. Merging it back in to BERR - as the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills - can only be assumed to be for party political expediency rather than for better government. There is a responsibility on Parliament to ensure that the Government is held to account for this entire farce".

Lord Mandelson, the new Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, on the the other hand, speaking at the Science Museum on June 9th said, "A new world is emerging. One on the edge of a new industrial revolution that's driven by new technologies and the world's shift to low-carbon. And where global competition will be even tougher. To fully realise our potential as a country, now is the time that we need to define those comparative advantages that will secure our global lead in this future. And our ability to maintain and develop our strong science base through both applied and a substantial element of fundamental curiosity-driven research, will be essential to our long-term economic success."

Tom Shelley

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