Monday, December 23, 2013

Thought of the day

Lofty goals have often produced research and teaching that is further and further removed from the day-to-day operations of government. While the field is so disparate that “it’s hard to talk about public policy schools as a whole,” Slaughter cautions, she and other school leaders identify certain trends, including a renewed zeal for quantitative analysis. [...] The new emphasis on big data is reminiscent of the Progressive idea that if we just gather enough information, the policy conclusions will be obvious to all.
The problem with public policy schools

we are up to our ears in public policy analysis but have not paid enough attention to old-fashioned public administration. While the US government many decades ago invested in schools of public administration to train professionals for government service, this function has atrophied in recent years. Virtually all public administration programs have evolved into public policy programs, where all the money and prestige is. Public policy analysis is dominated by economists who use sophisticated econometric techniques to design optimal policies. And yet, as most people who have actually served in government understand all too well, the real problem is less often knowing what to do, but rather the difficulty of getting the machinery of government to produce desired outcomes. The world of actual policy practice is a world of constraints that they don’t teach you about in many public policy programs. Many of these constraints are political in nature, so it you don’t understand the politics, you won’t get to execute your policies.
Frank Fukuyama - “It’s Not the Business Plan but the Execution”

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