JSB178 Week Seven Lecture Notes
What is Policy Analysis?
Involves researching an issue and alternatives so that the decision maker has all the information necessary
to make an informed decision.
This usually carried out by:
o Internal policy unit which specialises in policy development from a non-political perspective.
o Ministerial policy advisors whose job it is to consider the political aspects of the alternatives
Rational Comprehensive Model
Where a problem is identified and defined.
The values, goals and objectives of those making the decision are made explicit and ranked in priority order.
All options that could achieve the goal are identified.
The costs and benefits of each option are made explicit.
The costs and benefits of each option are then compared.
With information about costs and benefits, the decision maker can choose the option that best achieves
their values, goals and objectives.
Problem: Magistrates approach Minister to obtain personal use vehicles.
Values (boundaries for the policy developer): The department cannot afford it; they cannot get as good a
remuneration package as the District Court judges.
Options: Do not give it to them; give cars as a salary sacrifice; give cars as a bonus.
Costs and Benefits: Who will be upset if the Magistrates are given cars; how much will it cost?
Comparison: Make a recommendation of the preferred option.
Send the recommendation to the Minster who makes a political decision to placate Magistrates and meet
Problems with the Rational Comprehensive Model
The values and goals are not always clear (see the Wicked Problems below).
Decision making is rarely rational or comprehensive i.e. politics must be given high consideration.
Time and resources do not allow for a comprehensive analysis – in the Magistrates example we had only two
weeks and one quarter of the time of one staff member.
Some problems simply are not important enough at the time they arise to warrant full attention e.g. no one
studied schoolyard bullying in World War II.
Rationality as a Masculine Concept
Some complain that rationality is ‘inherently biased, self-legitimising and inaccurate’.
In what way could this be true?
What is the difference between being rational and having rationality?
What is the alternative?
Rationality is important for justification and communication.
Formulating a Problem
How do you identify what the problem is?
Departments tend to think within their boundaries and place the problem within their existing regime.
Whole-of-government committees and consultation is necessary to give it full application.
Many agencies exclude themselves from a problem by stating that it is outside of their core business or
portfolio e.g. aboriginal interpreters. Clarifying Issues
How did the situation arise?
Who is affected by this issue and why?
What do the main players in the field say about this issue?
Are there data suggesting trends?
Do local or international studies indicate the probable trajectory of this issue?
Can the problem be broken into smaller parts and dealt with as a series of related issues?
Are there existing problems or processes that can be applied to the problem?
To whom within the government does this problem belong?
Global vs. Agency Outcomes
Global outcomes are used as the basis of determining outcomes for your policy/project.
Do not choose an outcome and see how it fits into global goals.
Identify ‘outputs’ – physical, identifiable, measurable results – tied to the outcome.
What would the outcome of the courts be?
Basic parameters include:
o Government objectives
o Time constraints
o Priority of the issue
These are usually set for the policy officer, especially in relation to objectives and resources.
The major uncertainty relating to resources is the inability to ensure additional funding for small projects as
treasury will only take applications of over $250 000.
Time constraints and priority are vulnerable to the political environment e.g. if a crisis related to the policy
arises, the project becomes more important and has to be finished faster.
o Retain the status quo
o Do the opposite
o Find a middle ground
o Find out what other jurisdictions are doing (in practice this is one of the first things you do)
o Determine “international best practice” (be careful)
o Look at recent reviews and reports recommendations
o Look at academic journals (rarely done in practice)
o Consult with experts outside government
o Consult with clients
Model each alternative so they