The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) is a social purpose company jointly owned by the UK Government, Nesta (the innovation charity), and BIT employees.

BIT started life inside 10 Downing Street as the world’s first government institution dedicated to the application of behavioural sciences. The objectives remain the same as they always have been:

  • making public services more cost-effective and easier for citizens to use;
  • improving outcomes by introducing a more realistic model of human behaviour to policy; and wherever possible,
  • enabling people to make ‘better choices for themselves’

This is done by redesigning public services and drawing on ideas from the behavioural science literature. BIT is also highly empirical; they test and trial these ideas before they are scaled up. This enables them to understand what works and (importantly) what does not work.

BIT staff have either a strong academic grounding in economics, psychology, or randomised controlled trial design; or a background in government policy making.

Their Academic Advisory Panel includes Richard Thaler, co-author of Nudge; former Cabinet Secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell (the panel’s chair); and senior academics from leading UK Universities.

BIT’s company Board is chaired by Peter Holmes. The Cabinet Office representative is Janet Baker, and the Nesta representative is Helen Goulden. David Halpern (Chief Executive) and Owain Service (Managing Director) also sit on the Board.

BIT has two overseas offices. One of these is in Sydney, Australia, and is headed up by Rory Gallagher who is our Director of International Programmes and leads BIT’s work in Singapore. The other office is in New York, and is led by Elspeth Kirkman, who is working across US cities as part of a programme of work with Bloomberg Philanthropies.


Dr David Halpern

Chief Executive

Katy King

Senior Advisor

Dr Marcos Pelenur

Head of Energy & Sustainability