Policy makers in central departments are changing their ways of working and adapting to a world which is becoming increasingly complex, uncertain and unpredictable. The policy process has been changed to bring in a wider range of views and facts and to respond to the joined up approach of the modernizing agenda.The changes are set out in a comprehensive survey of policy making across government which highlights the work civil servants have done to change their ways of working to help the Government develop more effective policies. The report is published by the Cabinet Office’s Centre for Management and Policy Studies. It features 40 examples of new and innovative approaches to ‘what works’ in government, from conflict management to disability benefits, from credit card fraud to home buying and selling.
The demand for evidence based policy has led to the commissioning of more research. The recognition that policy makers have no monopoly of expertise in their area of work results in external expertise being sought and in some cases experts join the policy team. The DTI foresight programme is used to look into the future. Feedback is now sought from the frontline.
Policy development is being helped by the use of techniques such as scenario planning. The Lord Chancellor’s Department used the technique when implementing the Human Rights Act. It provided insights into the difficulties that might arise in different parts of the justice system. Other techniques include risk management, brainstorming and impact assessment. Pilot schemes are used to test the effectiveness of new polices and find out about implementation problems.