When do policymakers listen to policy analysis, and when do they ignore it?

From: The Hill | Contributors

By Stuart Shapiro, contributor

All politicians like to claim that their preferred policies are backed by “sound science” or “good analysis.” The fact that they do this so often, and that politicians on opposite sides of an issue make these claims, increases public cynicism. The public justifiably doubts both the claim that a policy is backed by good analysis and, eventually, the worthiness of policy analysis itself. Recent debates on the Keystone XL pipeline, for example, included competing claims about the impacts of approval of the pipeline on both the environment and on the number of jobs created.


Bureaucracy. Analysts must learn to advocate their views within the vast government bureaucracy. Their location in the bureaucracy can assist or impede their ability to do so. Access to decision-makers is important, but so is a degree of independence from program heads who have a particular agenda. The existence of an external office (such as the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or OIRA) that supports analysis can be very helpful to agency analysts fighting for their ideas within their organizations.

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