In the last few years, BCS has contributed to a wide range of policy issues including a unified elearning strategy, developing 21st century IT support for the NHS, ID cards, changes to the Computer Misuse Act, ecrime, managed migration and the Transformational Government Strategy.

The views expressed on behalf of the BCS, as well as the technical input, come from members, many of whom are acknowledged experts.

BCS has influenced and informed government policy over many years. It was instrumental in devising the whole concept of data protection, the original Data Protection Act in the UK and the Data Protection Directive in Europe.

BCS members, as experts in their fields, are often invited to join governmental groups. Some 20 years ago, past President Cecil Marks was a long-serving member of the Data Protection Committee, a group that worked with the Home Office and key partners in shaping the 1984 Data Protection Act.

More recently past President Wendy Hall was appointed by the Prime Minister to the Council for Science and Technology, the government's top-level advisory body on science, engineering and technology policy; and named by the European Commission as one of the founding members of the new Scientific Council of the European Research Council.

Role of the Government Relations Group

The Government Relations Group aims to:

  • develop mutually beneficial relationships between the BCS and government bodies;
  • provide a focus for formal responses to government requests;
  • initiate specific programmes of activity to advise and inform government on IT-related issues.

BCS has a professional responsibility for giving advice on IT issues to not only central government departments, but also local government, parliamentary groups, devolved assemblies and the European Union.

A current priority area is liaison with the eGovernment Unit about the BCS Professionalism in IT programme.

BCS is developing its relationship with government as:

  • an employer of 50,000 ICT professionals;
  • a customer for BCS products and services;
  • a provider of information to citizens and to businesses;
  • a regulator of the ICT industry;
  • the creator of public policy affecting many different areas including IT skills development in the UK and work permits policies for overseas professionals employed in the UK;
  • the sponsor of a major investment programme in science and technology.

The widespread recognition of the importance of increased professionalism in IT, in which the government is playing a major role, provides a fresh opportunity for the Government Relations Group to help BCS raise its profile across the public sector. Priorities for 2006 include:

  • taking forward the BCS's response to the Transformational Government Strategy;
  • establishing the Government Relations Group as the coordinating body and clearing point for all official submissions from BCS to government;
  • developing relationships with local government;
  • establishing more effective links with PITCOM and EURIM.

This article was written by Elizabeth Sparrow, chair of the Government Relations Group.