Both Grant and John have noted the need for greater used of evidence for science policy. A great set of essays has just been published in the UK on just this topic. The full set is is available here [Pdf]. The Guardian has also printed some of the essays. For example, Higgitt & Wilsdon write about how the history of science can contribute to science policy. In doing so they dispel the myth that pure scientific research is better at producing new technological discoveries than applied research. They also note the need for research on the effectiveness of challenge prizes.
The essay by John Beddington, the former UK Chief Science Adviser, considers the art of effective science advice. He cautions that calls for “evidence based policy” aren’t necessarily simple and that policy making isn’t science. Geoff Mulgan gives examples of “randomised control trials” in policy making and notes that the most influential advice isn’t necessarily that which is the most logical, or comes from the cleverest people. What matters more is whether the adviser is trusted and reliable, and that the advice fits the cognitive style of the receiver.
The UK is also examining what works in relation to social policy.
So plenty of experience for NZ to tap into.