This article explores the use of research and expertise within a selection of government agencies at state and federal levels in Australia. A recent survey of public officials provides new data on the reported use of evidence and expertise sourced from within the public service and from external sources. The survey instrument targeted the policy, program and evaluation staff in human service agencies and central policy coordination agencies. The survey findings provide new information on public servants’ policy skills and organisational context, their attitudes to non-government sources of expert evidence and knowledge, and their perceptions of the relevance of academic social research. Data are reported on the relative importance assigned by public officials in state and federal agencies to various sources of expert information. Factors that hinder and facilitate the uptake of external research by policy-related officials are canvassed, with special attention to organisational cultures and practices. Some similarities and differences between types of agencies are noted, especially those between state-level and federal agencies. The broader political context of policy work is also highlighted.
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