CSTA given new mandate to examine internal and external S&T linkages

Guest Contributor
May 22, 2003

The Council of Science and Technology Advisors (CSTA) will examine the federal government’s internal and external science and technology linkages for a new report slated for release next Spring. The intent is to learn more about existing linkages and how they can be enhanced to bring the full weight of Canadian and international science to bear on issues requiring coordinated knowledge and action.

The mandate was delivered to the CSTA at its May 9 meeting in Halifax by Dr Rey Pagtakhan, secretary of state for science, research and development.

Pagtakhan says the mandate was developed within Industry Canada in consultation with other science-based departments and agencies, and also received input from Industry minister Allan Rock and other ministers. The request was then taken to the Cabinet Committee for the Economic Union (CCEU) for endorsement, leading to final approval by Cabinet

“We want to ensure that we as a government are able to embrace a science and technology culture along the lines of information sharing and pursuing common solutions through collaboration,” says Pagtakhan. “For departments, they are guided by expertise from each other and by those outside in universities and companies. It’s a coming together of resources and how we can develop mechanisms to institutionalize some of that togetherness. Are we maximizing the talents we have in-house and outside? If not, we’re losing opportunities.”

A sub-committee has been struck to develop a working definition and will meet for a second time in July. A preliminary draft report will be presented to the full CSTA in October and fine tuned over the winter for release next May or June.


The focus of the new CSTA mandate has echoes of the Federal Innovation Networks of Excellence (FINE), an internal proposal to increase federal S&T capacity in concert with industry and academia. That proposal is apparently not going to be adopted as official policy, but many of its elements and rationale are permeating government thinking.

As a result, at least one pilot program has been launched and recent efforts have revolved around the developing use of technology foresight capability using federal departments and agencies as a test case (see Jack Smith’s column — R$, January 20/03).

The CSTA was created in 1998, two years after the release of the federal S&T Strategy to provide advice to the federal Cabinet on the strategic management of the government's internal S&T activities. Reporting to the CCEU,the CSTA is an independent, expert advisory body chaired by Pagtakhan and Dr Kevin Keough, Health Canada’s chief scientist.



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