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

Eliminate ambiguity

Clarify objectives

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?

Administrative Ease

Costs and benefits

Effectiveness

Equity

Legality

Political acceptability

 

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
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