A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving

A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving

A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving

A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving

Synopsis

This guide to policy analysis addresses the psychology, as well as the logic of the analytical process. The book contains hints such as warnings about language traps, strategies for economizing on data collections and checklists.

Excerpt

Policy analysis is a social and political activity. True, you take personal moral and intellectual responsibility for the quality of your policy-analytic work. But policy analysis goes beyond personal decision making. First, the subject matter concerns the lives and well-being of large numbers of our fellow citizens. Second, the process and results of policy analysis usually involve other professionals and interested parties: it is often done in teams or officewide settings; the immediate consumer is a "client" of some sort like a hierarchical superior; and the ultimate audience will include diverse subgroups of politically attuned supporters and opponents of your work. All of these facts condition the nature of policy-analytic work and have a bearing on the nature of what is meant by quality work.

A policy analyst can work in any number of positions. Once upon a time, the term implied someone rather wonkish who worked in a large government bureaucracy serving up very technical projections of possible policy impacts for one or more policy alternatives to some undersecretary of planning. No longer. Policy analysts help in planning, budgeting, program evaluation, program design, program management, public relations, and other functions. They work alone, in teams, and in loose networks that cut across organizations. They work in the public, nonprofit, and for-profit spheres. Although their work is ideally distinguished by transparency of method and interpretation, the analysts them selves might explicitly bring to their jobs the values and passions of advocacy groups as well of "neutral" civil servants. The professional networks in which they work might contain--in most cases, do contain--professionals drawn from law, engineering, accounting, and so on, and in those settings the policy-analytic point of view has to struggle for the right to counter--or better yet, synthesize--the viewpoints of the other professionals. Although policy-analytic work products typically involve written reports, they may also include briefings, slide presenta tions, magazine articles, and TV interviews. The recipients of these products may be broad and diffuse audiences as well as narrowly construed paying clients or employers. The advice in this handbook is directed both to policy analysts in . . .

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