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OVERVIEW

What is it?

Public policy analysis is analysis that serves to identify and assess several dimensions of a public policy in a partner country or region. In INTPA it focuses on policy relevance and credibility in a sector of interest.

What can it be used for?

Public policy analysis aids in understanding how a government/sector assesses current needs and opportunities and intends to respond to these. It examines a sector/area of intervention from a public policy perspective, which entails looking at national/sectoral priorities and current policies, programmes, action plans, etc. It also serves to identify possible challenges to policy implementation (lack of cost estimates, insufficient budget allocation, weak coordination across institutions, insufficient evidence, etc.) which might pose a risk for the intervention and need to be mitigated. Additionally, it helps in recognising external influences on the policymaking process.
Finally, Public policy analysis can be helpful in engaging in policy dialogue with relevant institutions, based on evidence gathered and interpreted.

When can it be used?

Public policy analysis is a key analysis which underpins the design of an intervention. It is instrumental in selecting the intervention's strategy, as it is based on an analysis of the challenges and opportunities offered by the policy framework. PPA is also critical during implementation as a means of tracking changes, detecting risks and helping ensure that the intervention remains relevant and results oriented.

Who can use it?
  • EU staff
  • Relevant partners
What are its strengths?
  • Very helpful in determining how best to support the relevant sector andin understanding policy and institutional framework needs.
  • Gaining insight on fruitful entry points for an intervention.
What are its limitations?
  • Understanding the policy framework requires more than document review and analysis, but must instead comprise a reality check assessment which fully captures the real interests and capacities of partner government/institution/sector stakeholders.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

Key elements

PPA can be synthesised in an analytical grid:

Identification of the policy framework
How do governments make their policies?
How do governments interact with donors?

Key components of the analysis:

  • Policy content
  • Policy formulation process
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Policy coherence
  • Review mechanisms and donor coordination (policy dialogue)

Key questions:

  • Where and how is the policy defined?
  • What is the period covered?
  • Are political and budget cycles linked?
  • Do we need inter-service and inter-sector consultations?
  • Who is in charge?
  • Is the policy coherent with other policies?
  • What is the approval process? Does it involve checks and balances?
  • Is there real involvement of stakeholders in policy formulation?

Assessing policy relevance
What are the objectives pursued by the policy, and how do these respond to the problems and needs expressed by stakeholders?

Key components of the analysis:

  • Matching challenges/problem/opportunities identified and different solutions
  • EU perspective: Link to EU policy priorities
  • Partner country/region perspective: adequacy of government response to country/sector challenges

Key questions:

  • What are the objectives of the identified policy?
  • Does it adequately respond to the issues at stake?
  • Does the policy integrate relevant environment and climate change considerations?
  • Does the policy integrate relevant gender equality considerations? If there is a national gender strategy, does the policy align with it?
  • How is it aligned with the 2030 Agenda and the European Consensus on Development?
  • To what extent is the policy compliant with relevant human rights international commitments and recommendations? If there is a national human rights strategy, does the policy align with it?
  • Is there a national development plan considering resilience to mitigate the risk of negative human rights impacts, natural and manufactured disasters and conflict prevention?

Assessing policy credibility
To what extent is the policy implemented in practice?

Key components of the analysis:

  • Past track record
  • Policy financing
  • Institutional capacities and ownership
  • Quality of data underpinning policy

Key questions:

  • Does the partner institution have a reputation for efficiency and effectiveness?
  • Is there a budget allocated to policy implementation and future operating costs? Can the revenue system support current and future costs? Is the projected budget allocation adequate with regard to cost estimates?
  • Is there a performance assessment/monitoring and evaluation framework in place? Does it lead to management decisions?
  • Are there sufficient institutional capacities to implement the policy? Are institutions supportive of the policy?
Requirements

Data/information. PPA often begins with a literature review focused on context/sector analysis, the national development plan, sector policy and its associated strategy and/or action plan, budget and cost estimates, lessons learned from previous interventions, recent evaluations, etc. If possible and available, any national analysis conducted by the partner government should be taken into consideration along with past performance reports. Sector working groups are a good entry point to obtain relevant information, past analyses and access to document repositories.

Time. Depending on the scope and focus of the intervention and available information, the time required can vary widely. A minimum of two weeks is generally needed to acquire a basic understanding of the topic and key aspects of a sector, policy and institutions. A deeper review including budget trends and transaction cost analysis, comparative analysis of decentralisation reform, etc., will require more time and resources.

Skills. N/A

Facilities and materials. N.A

Financial costs and sources. External expertise may be required, and relevant costs considered. Funds may come from the project itself or through other EC instruments such as a framework contract or a technical cooperation facility.

Tips and tricks

PPA cannot be confined to a theoretical level but must include systematic reality checks aimed at assessing the credibility of the policy. Literature reviews and previous reports are essential in assessing processes and institutional set-ups, but a structured policy dialogue is typically the key knowledge source.

RESOURCES

Where to find it

EU Learn : Context for Development: framing and Intervention 

INTPA Academy : Context analysis, public policy analysis and stakeholder analysis

Complementary guides, methodologies and tools

The European Commission (EC), 2009. Tools & Methods series. Reference document (n°4) – Analysing and Addressing Governance in Sector Operations.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank, 2007. Tools for Institutional, Political, and Social Analysis of Policy Reform: Political Mapping, Network Analysis

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