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251, #9-10

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Julia Nicodemus

on 24 September 2018

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Transcript of 251, #9-10

1: Problem Analysis
2: Policy Alternatives
Define the Problem
Why is it a problem?
Measure the Problem
Define relevant terms
Operational measures: Find a way to measure the problem that's consistent with its definition
Graphs, charts, figures
Differences or changes (relative to what?)
Ways of conveying information:
Illustrative examples
Think about
Problem's the Causes
Immediate causes and root (systemic) causes
Deciding what causes are most important is rarely neutral
Good to have an explicit list of causes
Think about who gains and who looses if a problem is solved.
Determine the
Extent or Magnitude
What Can Governments Do?
Tax and Spend
Contract Out
Use Market Incentives
Charge Fees
Create Public Trusts
Conduct Research
Policy Typologies and Human Behavior
Invoke authority and ask for compliance
Learning tools and communication
Exhort people to change their behavior
Provide Inducements or Sanctions
Creative Thinking
No-action analysis (one option is to do nothing)
Compare to similar situations
Quick surveys of people familiar with the issue -- do they have ideas?
Literature review -- what has been done before?
Problem: The number of people entering STEM fields, especially women and underrepresented minorities, is not enough to sustain our leadership in science, engineering, and technology.
Ideal case
Policy Alternatives- Morning
Evaluative Criteria

Very often the primary criterion
Often difficult to know how a new policy will work
Requires indicators and operational measurements of the problem and how it changes (which were already identified in problem analysis)
Often not as simple as it seems: may help some aspect of a problem while making another aspect more complicated or problematic
Process Equity -- was the process of making the decision fair? Did all affected parties have a voice? Does the policy treat everyone the same? (some would argue that is enough to make it equitable)
Outcomes Equity = are the effects of the policy fair and equitable? Does the policy promote equality in situations that are currently inequitable?
Who receives benefits? Who doesn't? Who pays the costs?
Efficiency is a measure of the benefits relative to the cost (what is the most benefit per dollar we can get)
A close second in ubiquitous importance
Calculating costs of a program can be hard
Assigning monetary values to predicted benefits is even harder
Sometimes, benefits have to be considered qualitatively
Efficiency (Cost)
Political Feasibility
Can we achieve this policy with the technology and natural resources that we have?
Changes when technology changes
Do elected officials accept and support the policy?
Related to social acceptability, but politicians generally have more influencing them than just public opinion
Social Acceptability
Often very important in science, technology and environmental policy, but also in other areas
How does the policy harm or improve environmental quality?
Is there a department or agency with the resources and ability to carry out the policy as intended?
Hard to estimate
Technical Feasibility
Environmental Effects
Administrative Feasibility
Does the policy infringe on our rights? Our privacy?
Does it restrict our choices?
Will the public support and accept the policy?
This can be challenging, because it depends not only on people's opinions, but on the salience of the issue
Economic Approaches to Policy Analysis
Cost-Benefit Analysis
Cost-Effectiveness Analysis
1. Identify important long and short term costs and benefits
2. Measure the tangible costs and benefits in monetary terms
3. Use a discount rate to ensure that all are expressed in comparable terms
4. Estimate the intagible or qualitative considerations
5. Get totals of cost and benefits
6. Express the relationship as either a net benefit (subtract costs from benefits) or a ratio of benefits to cost.
A systematic way of comparing advantages and disadvantages of a policy option (based on economics)
Especially useful when it is difficult to estimate benefits monetarily. In cost-effectiveness, the question is how much it costs to achieve some set benefit. Different policies might be able to achieve the same improvement, but at different costs.
Risk Analysis
In risk assessment, analysts identify, estimate and evaluate the magnitude of the risk to citizens from exposure to various situations
Higher risks means more need for government action
Risk is defined by the
of occurrence and
of the adverse consequences of an event/exposure
People don't tend to be very rational about risk, and worry more about unlikely catastrophes.
The goal of risk assessments are to deterime what level of risk (or, conversely, safety) is acceptable
Is the estate tax fair? Is it equitable? Is it more fair to have the estate tax, or not?
see page 186 (6th ed), 182 (5th ed), 192 (4th ed), or 159 (3rd edition) for a
description of the estate tax debate
Debate: take a position
Problem: The number of people entering STEM fields, especially women and underrepresented minorities, is not enough to sustain our leadership in science, engineering, and technology.
"Major Components of Problem Analysis" (pp161-162) offers a useful list of steps that can guide your discussion.
"What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems."
~John Gardner
Founder of Common Cause
Clear, concise statement of the problem.
Why is it appropriate to try to solve the problem with policy?
Is it reaching new levels of importance? Why?
What are different perspectives on the problem?
This is about data and statistics! To really understand a problem we need to find relevant quantitative data from reliable sources. Figure out what is available and choose the most meaningful measure.
Who is affected by the problem, and by how much?
How long have they been affected?
How does this problem vary with geography?
How has it varied with time?
Are there people benefiting from the situation? Who? How?
How might the situation change in the future
Set Goals
or Objectives
What goals do we have for time frame over which we would achieve those goals?
What should be done about the problem? Why?
Are certain goals more controversial than others?
What outcomes should potential policies achieve? (May be more than one)
Capacity Building
Policy Alternatives - Afternoon
Select Evaluative Criteria
Choose four criteria that you think are important in assessing the alternatives we're considering.
When thinking about effectiveness, define exactly what you mean by effectiveness -- how would you measure that? This should tie directly to how you thought about measuring the problem.
Think about weighting -- do you think some of your criteria are more important than others? How should they be weighted?
Think about how you'll assign scores
Scale (1-3, 1-5, 1-10 --- options for scoring should reflect the precision in your analysis)
How will you decide scores? Group consensus? Vote? Average of individual scores?
Method of Analysis
Choose a scoring method, decide on any weightings, and evaluate
Using Operational Measures to better understand the problem.
2013 legislation set at $5,000,000 (indiv) &$10,000,000 (couples), tied to inflation
2013 $5,000,000 40%
2014 $5,340,000 40%
2015 $5,430,000 40%
Estate tax promotes equity and should be higher
Estate tax is unfair and should be repealed
The definition of what is fair and what is equitable is highly contested.
Instruments of Public Policy
1. Regulation
2. Government Management
3. Tax and Spending
4. Market Mechanisms
5. Education & Information
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