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Frequently asked questions
Policy analysis is a technique used in public administration to enable civil servants, activists, and others to examine and evaluate the available options to implement the goals of laws and elected officials. The process is also used in the administration of large organizations with complex policies.
There are five basic approaches to policy analysis: formal cost-benefit analysis,
qualitative cost-benefit analysis, modified cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness
analysis and the most common type of policy analysis, multi-goal policy analysis.
1. Formal cost-benefit analysis: this approach should be used if efficiency is the primary goal. This type of analysis reduces all the impacts of a proposed policy modification or alternative policy to monetary cost. Impacts are thus measured in dollars. Of course, it is difficult to quantify everything in terms of monetary values. For example, we could look at policy options relating to the government obtaining information about the public and break these down into monetary considerations (monetary costs for deploying X number of police vs social workers, monetary costs for software and computer hardware that allows sifting of email communications, etc.) but how do we provide a sticker price for the
value of privacy?
2. Qualitative cost-benefit analysis: this approach, like the monetary cost-benefit analysis, begins by looking at potential impacts of policy modifications or new policies. However, unlike the monetary cost-benefit analysis, the qualitative cost benefit analysis attempts to assign values to qualitative factors such as ethics, political acceptability and the like.
3. Modified cost-benefits analysis: this approach involves scoring qualitative and monetary goals separately – the argument being that budgetary efficiency, for example, cannot be measured against political acceptability because these monetary and qualitative variables exist on different plains. In other words, since policies rarely seek to achieve efficiency as an exclusive goal, other policy goals need to be taken into account alongside considerations of efficiency. Each set of goals is thus weighted against similar quantitative or qualitative goals. This does not, however, absolve the analyst of the need to then make a determination as to the relative importance of the various policy goals.
4. Cost effectiveness analysis: this approach is best used when both efficiency and another policy goal can be quantified but where the other goal cannot be monetized. Cost effectiveness analysis can be approached in two ways: either via the Fixed Budget Approach (in which a given level of expenditures is chosen and the policy alternative that provides the largest benefits for this fixed sum is chosen) or via the Fixed Effectiveness Approach (in which a given level of benefit is specified and then the policy alternative that achieves that level of benefit at the lowest cost is chosen). Unlike cost-benefit analysis, which assesses whether any of the alternatives are worth pursuing and how the various alternatives should be ranked, a cost-effectiveness analysis cannot tell the analyst whether a given policy modification or alternative policy is worth pursuing. It can however, assist the analyst in determining which policy alternative will be most efficient in achieving a given goal once a decision has been made to try and achieve that goal.
5. Multi-goal policy analysis: this approach is most commonly used in policy analysis and policy options analysis because it is designed to deal with situations in which there are multiple possible policy goals and one or more of these cannot be quantified.
Civic technology, or civic tech, enhances the relationship between the people and government with software for communications, decision-making, service delivery, and political process. Areas of focus include government transparency through open data, the democratic process and voting, and the inclusion of the public in government’s internal operations via things like hackathons and entrepreneur-in-residence programs.
Civic tech is the product of governments admitting that they can’t do everything themselves and big public gov tech failures like HealthCare.gov. For those unfamiliar with the inner workings of government, it defies reason that a powerful organization can so thoroughly mismanage a billion-dollar project while a group of two or three clever programmers can hack a successful app in a few weeks. It’s unclear whether the promise will ever be fulfilled, but for many, civic tech is the bridge between government’s mission and modern technology’s potential.
Participatory mapping is an ancient form of transferring information using cartographic methods. Participatory mapping has been used to identify the location of activities, programs, organizations, resources, and other important elements of our human environment. Using participatory mapping, organizations can crowd source various information from the public or specific groups to be used in program implementation, policy making, and governance. For more information about participatory mapping, please visit the International Society of Particpatory Mapping.
The goal of any policy analyses is to collect data on aspects of collective activities and participatory mapping allows to collect data across geographies and help users with placemaking and resource evaluation. OT Collective’s primary goal is to make data collection for policymakers easier on resource strapped organizations and municipalities. Sometimes this requires tools that collect data over vast geographies, making the using of geographic information systems (GIS).
OT Consultancy went above and beyond throughout the entire project. Charla was so responsive and helpful. I knew I could count on her to meet deadlines and produce quality resources and reports for our grant project. Not only did Charla complete everything agreed upon in our contract, but provided additional support and resources that were needed when our program changed and we needed to adapt. Thank you Charla and everyone at OT Consultancy! This was an incredible experience and I cannot wait to work with you again in the future.
We have been working with Charla and OT planning a major substance abuse prevention and overdose prevention project that will eventually be state wide. While we are not yet into the implementation phase, Charla’s thought and direction thus far has been very helpful. Very excited to continue our work with them in the future.
The team at OT Consultancy has been a dream to work with! With all the tight deadlines set for our project they were able to go above and beyond assisting us every step of the way! Charla and the team is clearly passionate about community organizations and strengthening their skill sets. I recommend OT Consultancy to any organization looking for a hands on consultancy team. I look forward to working together again in the future!