Companion of OR


The Companionship of Operational Research is awarded for sustained support and encouragement for the development of operational research or for those in influential positions who are in broad sympathy with the subject area. Such contributions might be through public or private activities.

Citation for Companion of OR 2020

Alec Waterhouse

Alec Waterhouse is an experienced, well-respected, and long-standing member of the Government OR Service (GORS).  

He is currently the Head of the Central Modelling Team in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and also leads the GORS Professional Development community as well as being part of its Strategy Board.  

Alec’s career includes influential work to provide evidence and advice to underpin Government policy and operational decisions, for example, related to energy policy, climate change, and tax. 

Much of Alec’s work – in person and via the teams he leads – uses modelling-based approaches, for example, over the last eight years by developing and using models that help to understand how the UK can meet its long term emissions targets and how government energy policies affect consumers. Alec is also heavily involved with the assurance of modelling across wider Government as well as within BEIS. Within BEIS – and, before that in the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) - he established a Modelling Integrity Team to introduce and champion a structured approach to model quality assurance, centred on a quality assurance log to record model testing and a risk-based scoring method. His programme of modelling integrity work has been monitored using a departmental quality assurance score metric as a corporate level performance indicator. 

More widely, Alec was a key leader and contributor of work to develop best practice and guidance for modelling that is instantiated in the cross-Government Aqua Book (Analysis Quality Assurance), which draws heavily on the experience developed in his own teams as well as approaches adopted elsewhere In Government. Alec frequently speaks on modelling and model assurance within Government and to national and international fora. 

Alec’s leadership of the GORS professional development community has provided structure and coherence to the significant GORS community, which currently numbers almost 1000 staff. 

This has included work to align training schemes and opportunities, such as working with the ORS on the provision of relevant training courses and setting up a variety of cross-Government networks to share and develop practice. Alec also works closely with the wider Government analysis community – including economists, statisticians and social researchers as well as OR staff – often representing the OR voice in such cross-cutting debates.

Most recently, Alec chaired an apprenticeship trailblazer group, with wide-ranging membership across the OR practitioner community both within and beyond Government and with support from the ORS and academia. This group successfully developed a Level 7 (Masters-level) OR standard and gained approval for it through the Institute for Apprentices; and Alec, with support from ORS and the wider practitioner community, is now leading efforts to ensure that the standard is brought into routine use both for GORS and for the wider OR practitioner network. 

Alec’s lifetime contributions to OR make him a perfect candidate for the Companionship Award of the OR Society. 

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