Headlines: February 12th, 2001

Officials from across Government departments, agencies and devolved administrations are to hold a summit to consider where improvements can be made in the handling of risk and uncertainty.The initiative is one of the outcomes of the BSE Inquiry and is an acknowledgement of the need for officials across government to become better at handling risk.

An assessment of how the Government handles risk at the moment is found in its interim response to the BSE Inquiry Report, which has been published ahead of a Parliamentary debate on Thursday of this week (February 15).

The report goes into detail about the Government’s approach to risk, which was revised in general terms only last month by the Treasury, in its ‘Orange Book’ – Management of Risk – A Strategic Overview January 2001. The book provides a generic model for addressing risk – including identification, assigning ownership, evaluation, assessment and response.

The interim report suggests the Orange Book is not enough, and that departments ought to be developing and managing their own systems of responsibility specifically for risk management decisions that address public health.

In an indication of how carefully the Government is treading with an issue whose handling caused damage to the previous administration, the interim report will now be put out to extensive consultation before a final report is produced.

One of the issues comments are requested on is just how open should Government be on matters of risk to public health?

Link: www.maff.gov.uk/animalh/bse/inquiry.html