ROLE OF THE POLICY ANALYST.
Policy analysis is a systematic evaluation of the technical and political implications of alternatives proposed to solve public problems. Policy analysis refers to both the process of assessing policies or programs, and the product of that analysis.
SIX STEP POLICY ANALYSIS
1) Verify, define and detail the problem
2) Establish evaluation criteria
3) Identify alternative policies
4) Assess alternative policies
5) Display and distinguish among alternatives
6) Implement, monitor, and evaluate the policy
1) VERIFY, DEFINE AND DETAIL THE PROBLEM
State the problem meaningfully:
Determine the magnitude and extent of the problem
Continually re-define the problem in light of what is possible
Eliminate irrelevant material
Question the accepted thinking about the problem
Question initial formulations of the problem
Say it with data
Locate similar policy analyses
Locate relevant sources of data
Resolve conflicting goals
Focus on the central, critical factors
Is it important? Is it unusual? Can it be solved?
Identify who is concerned, and why?
What power do concerned parties have?
Make a quick estimate of resources required to deal with the problem
2) ESTABLISH EVALUATION CRITERIA
What are the important policy goals, and how will they be measured?
Identify criteria central to the problem and relevant to the stakeholders
Clarify goals, values and objectives
Identify desirable and undesirable outcomes
Is there a rank order of importance among the criteria? What will be the rules for comparing alternatives?
Costs and benefits
3) IDENTIFY ALTERNATIVE POLICIES
Consider a wide range of options
Consider the status quo, or no-action alternative
Consult with experts
Brainstorming, Delphi, Scenario writing
Redefine the problem if necessary
4) ASSESS ALTERNATIVE POLICIES
Select appropriate methods and apply them correctly
Estimate expected outcomes, effects, and impacts of each policy alternative
Do the predicted outcomes meet the desired goals?
Can some alternatives be quickly discarded
Continue in-depth analysis of alternatives that make the first cut
5) DISPLAY AND DISTINGUISH AMONG ALTERNATIVES
Choose a format for display
Show strengths and weaknesses of each alternative
Describe the best and worst case scenario for each alternative
Use matrices, reports, lists, charts, scenarios, arguments
6) IMPLEMENT, MONITOR, AND EVALUATE THE POLICY
Draw up a plan for implementation
Design monitoring system
Suggest design for policy evaluation
Was the policy properly implemented?
Did the policy have the intended effect(s)?
ROLE OF THE POLICY ANALYST
Policy analysis is a systematic evaluation of the technical and political implications of alternatives proposed to solve public problems. Policy analysis refers to both the process of assessing policies or programs, and the product of that analysis. A policy analyst:
- uses qualitative and quantitative data;
- uses a variety of approaches to the problem;
- Applies appropriate methods correctly.
Who does policy analysis? Is public policy analysis a calling? A vocation? A service? A guild? A cult? the role of the policy analyst is to:
- Produce arguments for debates about public policy
- Produce evidence for decisions about public policy
- Act as internal organizational consultants
- Act as external policy consultants
- Handle both technical and people aspects of policy analysis
All policy represents the distribution of power and resources. These policies are an expression of values. Values and beliefs are often used as short-cuts to decision-making. What code of ethics should the policy analyst adopt? What about the professional values of obligation, responsibility, discretion, and citizenship? What about published professional codes of ethics, such as ASPA, ICMA, AICP, NASW, NSPE, etc.?
The policy analyst has responsibilities, to the client, the customer, the self, the profession, the public interest, fairness, equity, law, justice, efficiency, effectiveness, and the practice itself. Who is to define what is good? Whose values or goals should be pursued? What is the right thing to do? Who or what is ultimately to be served? Should the analyst try first and foremost to do good, or to do no harm? Should the analyst give neutral advice, or normative advocacy? Should the analyst be supportive or adversarial?
Bias is inevitable in policy analysis. To mitigate the effects of bias, the analyst can:
- identify all underlying assumptions
- keep accurate records
- use multiple sources of information
- use replicable methods and models
- identify the client’s goals and values
- identify the formal and informal actors and institutions
- address relevant professional and ethical considerations