Britain’s defence and interior ministries [MOD and Home Office] are to merge their science and technology departments, respectively the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST), with the process getting underway this year and scheduled to be completed by 2020, the ministries have announced.
The decision was taken as being “the best way to provide enduring and appropriate science and technology (S&T) support to the Home Office and the MOD,” they said in a statement released today (24 Jan.).
A close look at the plan reveals that CAST is basically disappearing, its staff and workload being absorbed by Dstl. The expanded Dstl’s primary location will be Porton Down, near Salisbury, in southern England. The statement assured that staff and capabilities of both Dstl and CAST would be supported during the transition period by an integration programme team “ensuring continuity in support of national security, defence and policy.”
Dstl’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Lyle said that combining the capabilities of both departments “will improve the science and technology support for the MOD and Home Office, and enhance the nation’s defence and security. Dstl and CAST already work closely together on key projects such as forensics, body armour and detection systems. We intend to continue to build on this existing close relationship to make the integration process a success.”
His counterpart at CAST, Andy Bell, added: “This development will enable a more joined-up, coherent approach to science and technology provision for security, policing and resilience in the UK. The move will mean that our customers have access to a wider range of scientific and engineering expertise across government, industry and academia, giving broader access to innovative ideas and solutions.” He conceded that “there is a lot of hard work to be undertaken before we complete the move, and we will be providing full support to our staff throughout the transition.”