Public policy

Governments make policy decisions every day. These include whether to invest in infrastructure or services and which projects to prioritise, whether to intervene in markets and, if so, how, and whether to permit activities on environmental or social grounds.

Policy development is an intricate process usually requiring complex efficiency and equity trade-offs to find solutions that are both pragmatic and workable.

Policy review requires the examination and understanding of the many inherent tensions between managing and harnessing limited resources, meeting pressing needs - especially for those that are disadvantaged - and solving longstanding problems.

Policy decisions affect people, whether they are consumers, community members or businesses. Some of the effects are positive (benefits) and others are negative (costs). Some effects flow directly to some stakeholders, while others are external. Increasingly the development of policy includes intergenerational considerations.

Policy analysis and development also requires an appreciation of broader social and economic concerns including:

  • the current state of the economy and the environment
  • demographic and social trends
  • the competitive structure of the economy and its constituent industries
  • technological change and information management.

A range of techniques can be used to understand stakeholder perspectives, including market knowledge, surveys, targeted interviews, and analysis informed by sound economics and data. Policy analysis may also involve research to understand different jurisdictions nationally or internationally, academic studies or work by multilateral bodies such as the OECD.

Developing and implementing good policy requires careful consideration of all of these effects and robust evidence wherever possible.

When policy interventions are proposed they should be based on a clearly articulated objective. All of the available alternatives for achieving that objective and all of the relevant circumstances should be considered. When this is done, the option that provides the best balance between the desired outcome and the total cost is the one to pursue as long as the benefits are larger than the costs.

Policies should later be evaluated to assess whether their objectives have been met, in which case they may be discontinued or adjusted.

How ACIL Allen can help you

We can advise on developing and analysing sound principles and evidence-based policy across a range of sectors. We apply a range of analytical approaches, including data analysis and modelling, program evaluation, logic modelling, stakeholder consultation and surveys. Grounded in theoretical principles of economics and sound public policy, we can:

  • develop policy frameworks
  • design policies so as to achieve intended outcomes and avoid unintended outcomes
  • assess the trade-offs between different ways of achieving policy goals
  • understand complex policy and program environments, including multiple layers of government or agencies
  • develop incentive-based policy instruments
  • analyse the economic, financial, revenue and distributional effects of proposed policies
  • conduct cost benefit analysis of proposed policies and prepare regulatory impact statements, regulatory impact assessments and legislative impact assessments
  • engage with stakeholders on existing or proposed policies
  • prepare submissions to government reviews and inquiries
  • evaluate existing policies.