The Forum short course, part 3: Engaging with the Civil Service as a researcher

Engaging with the Civil Service

In part 3 of The Forum’s short course, we look at how researchers can engage with the Civil Service. 

The Civil Service – also referred to as Whitehall – undertakes the behind the scenes activity and implementation of Government policy through the work of government departments. They are therefore a great source of intelligence on the current policy landscape and Government priorities.

Civil servants need to understand the evidence base for the policy area they are currently working on (they tend to rotate across areas and Government departments) so getting in touch with civil servants should always be one of the first things you do when building your policy engagement.

whitehall sign

First steps to engaging with civil servants

  • The first step is to find the government department leading on the policy area related to your research. To find the right contact, you can email the generic contact address on the departmental sites – when emailing, be as specific as you can be about the policy area you are interested in.
  • Most government departments have a Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) to provide scientific advice, they advise the Government Chief Scientific Adviser on all aspects of policy on science and technology. They also provide advice to ministers and discuss and facilitate implementation of policy on STEM topics. The network of CSAs is coordinated by the Government Office for Science, which can also help you to find the right policy lead.
  • The Cabinet Office also has a relatively new Open Innovation Team that helps Whitehall departments with analysis and ideas through facilitating collaboration with academics and it is worth checking what they are working on at the moment to see whether you have fitting expertise.
  • Check the list below to see whether there are currently any consultations open that relate to your area of expertise – this can give you a suitable contact but also the opportunity to submit your evidence and use this as a hook to build a relationship. Our video and guide to submitting evidence can help you with this. 
  • Read our guide to understanding policymaking (PDF) to get an idea how consultations fit into the wider policymaking process.
  • Read our ARI Briefing (PDF) to understand government's new initiative on communicating Areas of Research Interest (ARIs) and research needs more clearly. 

Please see below for a list of currently open consultations.

Current consultations

Cabinet Office

Closing: 04/11/2020

New Consultation: Transparency in digital campaigning: technical consultation on digital imprints| See here

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Closing: 02/11/2020

New Consultation: Proposals for a green gas levy | See here

Closing: 11/11/2020
New Consultation: Warm Home Discount Scheme 2021 to 2022 | See here

Closing: 11/11/2020
New Consultation: Draft Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Regulations 2021 | See here

Closing: 25/11/2020
New Consultation: International regulatory cooperation strategy
 See here

Closing: 24/12/2020
New Consultation: Increasing the scope and powers of the Small Business Commissioner | See here

Closing: 30/12/2020
New Consultation: Improving the energy performance of privately rented homes | See here


Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Closing: 22/11/2020
New Consultation: Loot boxes in video games - call for evidence | See here

Closing: 02/12/2020

New consultation: Framework National Data Strategy (NDS) | See here

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Closing: 17/11/2020

New Consultation: Marine strategy part two: monitoring programmesSee here

Closing: 27/11/2020
New Consultation: UK Pollutant Release and Transfer Register: national implementation report 2021 | See here

Closing: 27/11/2020
New Consultation: Aarhus convention national implementation report 2021 | See here

Closing: 30/11/2020
New Consultation: Fisheries: remote electronic monitoring call for evidence | See here

Closing: 18/01/2021
New Consultation: Local air quality management: public authorities call for evidence | See here

Department for Transport

Closing: 22/11/2020

New Consultation: Managing pavement parking | See here

Closing: 17/01/2021
New Consultation: Expanding the offence of using a hand-held mobile phone while driving to include non-connected mobile application actions | See here


Department for Work and Pensions


Department of Health and Social Care

Closing: 16/10/2020
New Consultation: Early years healthy development review: call for evidence | See here

Closing: 21/10/2020

Front-of-pack nutrition labelling in the UK | See here





Environment Agency


HM Revenue and Customs

Closing: 05/10/2020
New Consultation: Supporting veterans' transition to civilian life through employment See here

Closing: 13/10/2020
New Consultation: Modernisation of the stamp taxes on shares framework See here

HM Treasury

Closing: 26/10/2020

New Consultation: Cryptoasset promotions

Closing: 17/01/2021
New Consultation: Expanding the offence of using a hand-held mobile phone while driving to include non-connected mobile application actions | See here


Home Office

Closing: 12/10/2020

New Consultation: Fire safety | See here

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

Closing: 29/10/2020

New Consultation: Planning for the future | See here

Closing: 09/11/2020
New Consultation: Reforming local government exit pay | See here

Closing: 13/11/2020
New Consultation: Funding allocation methods: new domestic abuse duty | See here

Closing: 30/10/2020
New Consultation: Transparency and competition: a call for evidence on data on land control | See here

NHS Digital

Closing: 27/10/2020
Clinical Safety of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) | See here