UK spy chief welcomes Russia invasion intelligence shift; US watchdog’s top trends shaping government; Singapore signs space accord: policy and delivery news in brief

By on 07/04/2022 | Updated on 07/04/2022
An aerial image of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
An aerial image of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Photographer: GCHQ/Crown Copyright

Global Government Forum’s weekly digest of all the news you need to know but might have missed

UK spy chief welcomes shift to publish more intelligence around Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

The director of the UK’s cyber intelligence agency GCHQ has said that the “unprecedented” publication of intelligence assessments of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a welcome development that could be repeated in future conflicts.

In a speech in Australia last week, Sir Jeremy Fleming confirmed that the UK government had formed an information cell to identify and counter Russian disinformation, and said that much of this information had come from intelligence from agencies including GCHQ.

“It is already a remarkable feature of this conflict just how much intelligence has been so quickly declassified to get ahead of Putin’s actions,” he said. “From the warnings of the war, to the intelligence on false flag operations designed to provide a fake premise to the invasion, and more recently, to the Russian plans to falsely claim Ukrainian use of banned chemical weapons.

“On this and many other subjects, deeply secret intelligence is being released to make sure the truth is heard. At this pace and scale, it really is unprecedented.”

Reflecting on this trend, Fleming said: “In my view, intelligence is only worth collecting if we use it, so I unreservedly welcome this development.”

In a rare public speech from a senior intelligence figure, Fleming also said Russia had “massively misjudged” the situation in Ukraine, and that advisers around Russian president Vladimir Putin were “afraid to tell him the truth”.

From changes to how officials work to preparing for biological incidents: US Government Accountability Office names top trends shaping government

The US federal government’s watchdog has named the top 12 trends shaping government, ranging from tackling global and domestic threats to using science and technology to unlock an innovative economy.

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) last month published trend papers covering the “critical challenges facing our nation”. The trends will guide the congressional watchdog’s future efforts from 2022 to 2027, as GAO helps lawmakers oversee federal operations and address some of the most important national issues facing government and society as a whole.

GAO’s strategic plan presents 12 trends with national significance, which are:

  • National security: global and domestic threats
  • Fiscal sustainability and debt
  • Preparing for catastrophic biological incidents
  • Racial and ethnic disparities
  • Science, technology, and the innovation economy
  • Security implications for an increasingly digital world
  • Changes to how and where we work
  • Future of global supply chains
  • Online learning and technology in education
  • Evolving health technologies
  • Sustainable development
  • Evolving space environment

Gene L. Dodaro, comptroller general of the United States and head of the GAO said all these trends have “significant implications for the wellbeing of the American people”.

The trends were identified following extensive research, according to the GAO, including consulting with experts inside and outside the federal government. 

Dodaro added: “Our hope is that greater awareness of these trends will spur the nation’s leaders to better understand the challenges facing the federal government.

“For 100 years, GAO has been at the forefront of efforts to improve government performance, striving to help make programmes more efficient and effective. In addition, today’s policymakers need forward-looking information to help them deal with evolving challenges, before they become crises.”

Singapore signs space exploration accord

Singapore has signed a United States-led international accord that commits the country to “peaceful and responsible exploration of space”.

The country signed up to the Artemis Accords, which sets out the guiding principles for cooperation among nations participating in NASA’s Artemis programme. The scheme is the basis of US space agency NASA’s plan to land the first woman and first person of colour on the moon, heralding a new era for space exploration.

Singapore’s minister for trade and industry Gan Kim Yong signed the document during a ceremony on 28 March, in Washington.

Singapore is the 18th country to sign the Artemis Accords, and NASA said more countries will sign in the months ahead as the agency works with international partners “to establish a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space”.

“Working with both new and existing partners will add new energy and capabilities to ensure the entire world can benefit from our journey of exploration and discovery,” the agency said in a statement.

“I am excited that Singapore signed the Artemis Accords,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said. “It’s amazing how much worldwide commitment for this effort has grown over the past year and a half and I can’t wait to see what the coming months bring as additional countries sign on to join our quest for peaceful exploration of space under Artemis.”

Japan launches new vaccine research hub to quicken future pandemic response

A new government body in Japan will pursue vaccine research and development to boost the country’s performance in the field as part of an international effort to improve pandemic response.

Set up in late March, the Strategic Center of Biomedical Advanced Vaccine Research and Development for Preparedness and Response (SCARDA) was created within the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development. Its core aim is to deliver safe and effective vaccines for a priority list of infectious diseases, as well as make vaccines produced in Japan more accessible to other countries.

SCARDA has been likened to the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and the National Institutes of Health, which have a commitment to collaborate in public-private partnerships and make early investments in the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Read more: Japan launches new vaccine research hub to quicken future pandemic response

About Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.

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