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Introduction to policy analysis. What to think about when you want to examine the content and impact of a policy. Thinking about creating a new policy. Definition of the Problem Cause of the problem [identifying the causal chain] Target Population Consequences of the Problem

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introduction to policy analysis

Introduction to policy analysis

What to think about when you want to examine the content and impact of a policy

thinking about creating a new policy
Thinking about creating a new policy
  • Definition of the Problem
  • Cause of the problem [identifying the causal chain]
  • Target Population
  • Consequences of the Problem
  • Ideology and its relationship to policy solutions
  • Criteria for setting policy goals (generally derived from ideology/values).
  • Gainers & Losers (Political, Social, & Monetary Gains)
role of ideology
Role of ideology
  • Ideology is a set of assumptions about how the world works.
  • Most of the time ideologies are not tested empirically. If they are tested and verified, we would call them theories.
  • Ideologies are often associated with political parties.
  • For example, policy decisions could be based on the following principles:

1) Individual Responsibility

2) Social Responsibility, especially for people in need.

  • A politician that adopts the Individual Responsibility approach might argue against new taxes and for reducing social programs.
  • A politician that adopts the Social Responsibility approach might argue that new taxes are necessary to support programs for the poor.
  • The Individual Responsibility approach is often used to argue against government intervention. Social Responsibility approach is often used to argue for more government programs.
causal chain
Causal Chain

Limits on Involuntary Commitment; Reductions in mental health funding

People with mental illness

Fewer mental health institutions and outpatient facilities

Increases in homeless-ness

More mentally ill people on the streets

most social policy is based on the rational or problem solving model
MOST SOCIAL POLICY IS BASED ON THE RATIONAL OR PROBLEM-SOLVING MODEL
  • Problem identification
  • Assessment
  • Goal Setting
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation
slide6
Social Policy Analysts use a variety of methods to choose among alternative goals or intervention plans
  • Review of the available theoretical and research literature to identify appropriate interventions that have been assessed as effective.
  • Best practices disseminated by other agencies and planning groups.
  • Decision trees
  • Conceptual, visual, or mathematical models.
  • Principle of Transitivity: If A > B and B> C, then A > C.
  • Cost benefit or cost effectiveness analysis.
  • Analysis of the distributional impact of the plan (what groups will benefit or lose).
gainers losers
Gainers & Losers
  • Costs for Social Programs are seldom shared among different groups in society.
  • Social Policies should have some benefits for the public at large, but may favor some groups over others.
  • Policy analysts and social planners use the principle of “pareto optimality” in the decision-making process.
  • The principle states that in all social programs, the gains should outweigh the costs of programs. In addition, the principle suggests that people who benefit disproportionally from a program should compensate the losers.
  • However, some policy analysts believe that it is sufficient that policies and programs simply meet the standard of “potential pareto optimality” i.e. that rather than actually give compensation to the losers, a program or policy should be adopted if the people who benefit can potentially compensate the losers because their benefits are so large.
slide8
This principle is put into operation by government agencies and businesses by conducting cost-benefit or cost-effectiveness Analysis
  • In cost-benefit analysis, the benefits of social policies should outweigh the costs. Policy analysts look at a number of different program outcomes and evaluate them in terms of costs and benefits.
  • In cost-effectiveness analysis, policy analysts examine the costs of various policy options and their potential impacts. The lowest cost program that has the highest impact is the one chosen for implementation.
  • Problems issues with these approaches; costs are expressed in dollars. Some social costs and benefits can not be converted into dollars. For example, quality of life, mental health, or the beauty of a national park cannot be assigned dollar values.
  • Also, the method may not take into account unexpected costs or side-effects of the program (externalities) and it may be difficult to estimate costs and benefits overtime.
  • In addition, the method does not really help to identify how benefits should be distributed across different demographic or income groups. Distributional decisions are usually made (non-rationally) in the political process.
in analyzing policies or proposing new ones we take into account judicial decisions
In analyzing policies or proposing new ones, we take into account judicial decisions.
  • Three branches: executive, legislative, judicial.
  • Legislative branch passes laws; executive (president, governor) may sign or veto laws and implements policy. Judiciary interprets laws and regulations.
  • Standards used to interpret laws are inherent in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
  • Does the law uphold individual and state rights identified in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
  • Two layers of courts – Federal and State.
  • Federal judges are appointed (District and Supreme Court judges). U.S. Senate must confirm.
  • State courts have a mix of appointed (by the governor) and elected judges.
controversies about the judicial branch
Controversies about the judicial branch
  • Judges are supposed to make impartial decisions.
  • Might be difficult in cases in which judges are elected (they accept campaign donations)
  • Since judges are appointed by politicians, the President or Governor may make appointments based on political ideology.
  • Since judges are called upon to assess government policy, the person who appoints them might have a vested interest in appointing judges that will make decisions that support existing policies or government decisions. The legislative branch may refused to confirm judges that they feel are partisan or that have made previous decisions that run counter to a particular political party’s ideology or vested interests.
  • Judges do make decisions based on ideology. One philosophical approach is “strict constructionism” the belief that laws must be interpreted in a manner that is consistent with the intent of the founding fathers. Other judges believe that changes in social values and technology can be used to make new interpretation of rights granted in the constitution.
in deciding whether a law is constitutional judges take into account
In deciding whether a law is “Constitutional” Judges take into account:
  • Judicial precedent – how have similar cases been decided by the court?
  • Procedural rights; due process – do people have equal access to benefits, jobs, services, voting, and legal protections? For example, do people have the right to appeal government decisions?
  • Have people been previously granted substantive rights by a piece of legislation that can’t legally be withdrawn by government?
  • Does the law violate any of the rights identified by the “Bill of Rights.” Difficulty in interpretation by the courts relates to implementation or procedures used to put the policy into operation. Another difficulty in interpretation involves understanding of what those rights actually mean. Courts have held that certain rules can be used to regulate the exercise of those rights. In some cases, the rights of some individuals can conflict with the rights of others. In addition, our understanding of rights can change over times due to differences in social values or changes in technology.
framework for understanding judicial decisions from cannon as cited in chambers wedel 2005 p 38
FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING JUDICIAL DECISIONS (FROM CANNON AS CITED IN CHAMBERS & WEDEL,2005, P. 38)
  • Whether and in what way new judicial decisions negate earlier legislation.
  • The degree to which earlier judicial precedents are altered.
  • Determining what specific policy consequences follow from a judicial decisions.
  • How new judicial decisions affect administrative discretion (it might alter how the policy is implemented; courts can facilitate consent degrees when someone sues the government – both parties must agree to abide by the decision).
when analyzing judicial impacts it should be noted
When analyzing judicial impacts it should be noted:
  • That since there are courts in each state and federal courts serve different regions of the country, different courts can make different decisions on similar issues.
  • Most court decisions can be appealed – except for matters that go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Even the Supreme Court may re-examine cases considered “settled.”
  • Especially for laws affecting individual rights, new court cases can affect how the laws are interpreted and enforced. Consequently, some laws are constantly changing. This is called “case law.” Therefore, government agencies, private businesses, and nonprofit agencies need to keep updating their knowledge of these changes in order to be in legal compliance. This is particularly true about laws affecting the hiring, firing, and retention of staff.
more on policy analysis
More on policy analysis
  • Analysts look at the current or potential impact of laws and policy.
  • Analysts choose the criteria to be used for examining laws and policies.
  • Often these criteria are based on value assumptions about how laws should work. The value assumptions are closely linked to ideology and political philosophy.
  • Policy analysts use values such as equity, equality, adequacy, efficiency, and constitutional rights (freedom of speech, freedom of the press, etc). Effectiveness or the ability of a policy to produce the intended outcome is also a criteria. Policy analysts must also consider whether a policy outcome is feasible (economically, politically, or likely to receive public support).
  • Policy analysts also try to determine externalities – who or what is likely to be affected by unintended side effects of the policy.
slide16
Using the problem-solving (rational) model, policy analysts choose among a number of different options with different effects
slide17
ASPECTS OF POLICIES TO BE CONSIDERED WHEN CHOOSING THE MOST APPROPRIATE POLICY (AS DESCRIBED IN JANSSON)
  • Mission or purpose
  • Level of Government or Specific Agency that is responsible for policy implementation/oversight
  • What type of organization should actually deliver the program (government, nonprofit, for-profit)?
  • How should funding be delivered (for example, direct federal, or federal to state to agency)?
  • How much money should be provided?
  • What type of services should be delivered? Theoretical framework for service delivery?
  • What type of staffing should be required?
  • Should beneficiaries pay some of the costs of services.
  • Should access to services to restricted or rationed?
  • Should organizations serving similar clientele or offering the same programs be required to collaborate with one another.
  • Should some administration practices be a condition for funding?
  • Who should be responsible for monitoring the implementation of the program/policy?
policy analysts may
Policy analysts may
  • Consider options for a number of types of programs or
  • Consider options for each of the policy/program components involved in implementation.
  • Value criteria are used to choose among the options.
  • The policy analyst can use mathematical models such as cost-benefit analysis, can establish a formula for ranking each item, or use research data, information on best practices, or previous program evaluations to choose among the various options.
  • Questions to be addressed are whether the policies uphold the value criteria. Does the policy meet some of the criteria and not others. Which option meets most of the criteria?
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