Headlines: January 20th, 2000

An enquiry team from the Performance and Innovation Unit set out last year to discover how better microeconomic modelling could improve policy making. When departments returned questionnaires about policy priorities, use of data and models the team realised that the real issue they had to address was not techniques of analysis, but civil service culture.The review team found that rigorous analysis was often absent in developing policies. Neither Ministers nor senior civil servants regularly demanded analysis. At other levels, the policy makers did not know what analytical colleagues could offer. They also found that analytical skills were not valued and policy makers were not encouraged to develop them. The report to the Prime Minister ‘Adding it Up’ recommends a fundamental change in culture to place good analysis at the heart of policy making. It calls for leadership from Ministers and senior officials to make this a reality.

The report also calls for greater openness to encourage the highest standards of analysis, because publishing results in support of policy development means that they have to be publicly defended. It recommends that each year departments should publish an analytical strategy to encourage challenge and feedback from experts and stakeholders outside government.

Link: http://www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/innovation/1999/adding/coiaddin.pdf