Tuesday, May 3, 2011

[EQ] Towards better use of evidence in policy formation

Towards better use of evidence in policy formation:
a discussion paper

Sir Peter Gluckman KNZM FRSNZ FRS- Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister


Available online PDF [17p.] at: http://bit.ly/kgXImv

“….The public good is undoubtedly advanced by knowledge-informed policy formation, evaluation and implementation.

The challenge is how to do better in two related domains: the generation and application of knowledge to inform policy making, and the use of scientific approaches to the monitoring and evaluation of policy initiatives.

As Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister I have the brief to promote discourse that will lead New Zealand to better apply evidence-based knowledge and research across all domains of public endeavour. When I was first appointed to the role, I consulted with my counterparts overseas and it was generally noted that addressing this issue of the relationship between science and knowledge on one hand, and policy formation and implementation on the other, was one of critical importance in this increasingly complex and interconnected world.

The challenges are multiple: to identify what research and information is needed, to identify appropriate sources of such knowledge, to interpret the validity, quality and relevance of the knowledge obtained, and to understand how that knowledge can improve consideration of policy options and policy formation while being cognisant of the changing nature of science and the increasingly complex interaction between science and policy formation. These issues confront all sectors of the public service.

It is important to separate as far as possible the role of expert knowledge generation and evaluation from the role of those charged with policy formation. Equally, it is important to distinguish clearly between the application of scientific advice for policy formation (‘science for policy’) and the formation of policy for the operation of the Crown’s science and innovation system, including funding allocation (‘policy for science’).

This paper is concerned with the former. A purely technocratic model of policy formation is not appropriate in that knowledge is not, and cannot be, the sole determinant of how policy is developed. We live in a democracy, and governments have the responsibility to integrate dimensions beyond that covered in this paper into policy formation, including societal values, public opinion, affordability and diplomatic considerations while accommodating political processes….”


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