CMNS 261Finding Public Policy DocumentsSpring 2014 Sylvia Robertssroberts@sfu.ca 778-782-3681
Policy: Definition • …an overall plan embracing general goals and procedures and intended to guide and determine decisions. The Penguin English Dictionary .(2000). Retrieved 04 February 2006, from xreferplus. http://www.xreferplus.com/entry/1163851.
Public policy changes initiated by… • Political parties (election promises) • International treaties • Government departments responding to environmental influences • Interest groups such as consumer or trade associations • Expert bodies
Public policy documented in… • Legislation: bills, statutes, regulations • Committee reports, proceedings, evidence • Record of debates (Hansard) • Case law • Annual reports & budgets for ministries, government agencies • Position papers by ministries, NGOs, industry associations, think tanks, etc. • Policy manuals
Legislation introduced Debate in parliament at 2nd reading Referred to committee for study 3rd reading Senate Royal assent In force Specific aspects regulated 1st reading bill Hansard for record of debates Committee report 3rd reading bill Possible amendments Annual statutes Order in Council Regulations Event Document
Public policy research • Both primary & secondary sources are important in understanding public policy • Ask yourself: • What’s the subject of the policy? • What jurisdiction is responsible: federal, provincial, municipal / local? • Is the policy based on law or some other authority? • What documents express this policy?
Secondary sources • Provide background for in-depth analysis • Provide clues to help identify primary documents • Examples: • Monographs & research reports • Academic journal articles • News articles • Reports from think tanks & policy institutes • Position papers produced by interest groups (industry, NGOs, consumers, professionals)
Primary sources • Crucial indefining policy • Primary public policy documents produced and distributed by government departments & agencies • Documentary research into public policy involves records of • Intended policy • Implementation & interpretation of policy • Review of policy
How to find policy sources? • START by reading your policy document • Note significant groups, events and documents, especially: • Government (ministries, agencies, committees) • Interest groups, researchers, lobbyists (witnesses, submissions) • Legislation, law cases, policy papers • Significant events and dates
How to find policy sources? • Continue by searching for secondary sources that discuss the policy issues raised in the document • Use these both for their content and to identify leads to additional primary sources for further research
Executive Branch – Types of policy documents • Position papers • Program reports • Studies • Proposed budgets • Task force & Royal Commission reports • Annual reports & other administrative materials
Finding Executive Branch documents • Search the top level web site at the appropriate jurisdictional level, e.g. Government of Canada, to identify key gov’t agencies concerned with this topic • Continue by searching/browsing web sites for these specific ministries or government agencies • Use the Canadian Research Indexto identify gov’t reports and policy papers by topic • Look for references to gov’t bodies and specific policy documents in academic literature and news articles
Legislative Branch - Types of policy documents • Bills • Statutes • Regulations, • Record of debates (Hansard) • Committee reports • Minutes & proceedings of committee meetings
Finding Legislative Branch documents • Pending legislation (bills) found on the Parliamentary web site • Current statutes on the Dept of Justice web site • Search the text of the Debates of the House of Commons in Hansard • Commons /Senate Committee reports via the Parliamentary web site • Use secondary source (specialized encyclopedias, indexes, articles) to find relevant legislation by topic
The Judiciary (law reports) • Law reports are published judicial decisionse.g. CCH Canadian Ltd v. Law Society of Upper Canada • Use secondary sources specific to legal materials to identify case reports by topic: • The Canadian encyclopaedic digest, western, • The Canadian Abridgement Digests • Index to Canadian Legal Literature • You can also find references to case law in academic literature and news articles
Interest Groups • Legislation & government policy is influenced by consultation with constituents / citizens and with interest groups • Interest groups may focus on a single issue or represent a specific political perspective on many issues
Industry Professionals Consumers Citizens Think tanks Trade unions Bureaucrats Activists NGOs Cultural perspectives (language, religion) Demographic perspectives (disabilities, seniors, poverty) Interest Groups may represent:
Identifying Interest Groups • Start to identify stakeholders for your policy issue by looking at list of witnesses and submissions in your policy document • Supplement this with individuals or groups named in secondary sources (e.g. news) and on association web sites • Check out the lobbyist registry
Identifying Interest Groups’ Positions • Go to the Parliamentary web site to find Committee proceedings, minutes and evidence • Look for publications by or about these groups on the web, such as: • position papers • listserv discussions • letters to government • Use news sources to search for articles that mention or quote them
Other national policy documents • Secondary sources can provide names of specific documents or agencies • Use article indexes, web searches • Can search portal sites for specific governments OR legislative or executive branch web sites • Government structures or their approach to policy issue may differ from Canada
QUESTIONS? • Use the research guides and read your course notes • Take good notes as you go • Follow your leads • Talk to librarians (in person or via AskAway) if you encounter difficulties • Citation guides for government documents at the end of the guide Good luck with your research!