20-pages64-71.doc - EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY MAKING SOME...

This preview shows page 1 - 3 out of 7 pages.

EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY MAKING: SOME OBSERVATIONS OF RECENT CANADIAN EXPERIENCE David Zussman 1 President of the Public Policy Forum Canada Abstract David Zussman talks about Canada’s experience with evidence-based policy making. He shares three examples of current policy discussions in Canada that illustrate the challenges and problems involved in trying to integrate evidence into the decision-making process. He also describes a Canadian government initiative aimed at creating and sharing an evidential base on its own performance. The project, “Canada’s Performance 2002”, provides evidence on how well or how poorly the government is meeting the objectives it has set for itself. INTRODUCTION As we all know, evidence-based decision making is not new. Whether it was to build a bridge or wage a war, presidents and prime ministers have always based their plans on evidence of some sort. But the recent increase in interest in evidence-based policy making is a response to a perception that governments need to improve the quality of their decision making in a world typified by rapid change and scarce resources. Many critics argue that policy decisions are too often driven by inertia or short-term political pressures. Why would any government ever develop policy, or continue to apply policy that was not based on evidence, or worse, that is contrary to available evidence? Unfortunately, we all know that this happens regularly Take the following examples from the social policy areas. Evidence shows that many prisoners in Canadian prisons use drugs and share needles. Evidence also shows that needles are the main way HIV/AIDS spreads through the prison population. Yet, so far, we do not have a clean needle exchange programme in our prisons . Evidence also shows that cigarettes kill more people annually than does marijuana. Yet cigarettes are legal and marijuana is not. How can we explain these apparent inconsistencies? Why wouldn’t a government act when the evidence is clear? Is it because people do not know the evidence? Don’t they care? Or are there other, deeper reasons? In my experience, there are many reasons why governments do not always look to scientific evidence to decide what to do. 1 David Zussman is also Professor of Public Policy and Management at the University of Ottawa. 8ee3e8b107e526b247e6225ea7dd7465de5e8da4.doc 1 of 7
Image of page 1

Subscribe to view the full document.

When it comes to policy making, evidence is not always as clear or consistent as we would like. It may not even be readily available. Policy making also characteristically requires many different kinds of evidence. Another extremely valuable source of evidence lies in the records of any government’s own transactions and actions. Governments have always been famous for keeping huge volumes of files, but recent developments in electronic file management open huge and interesting possibilities for good governance. The Public Policy Forum has recently published a report, Information Management to Support Evidence-Based Governance in the Electronic Age
Image of page 2
Image of page 3

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern