Evidence based policy analysis: 20 case studies

A report commissioned by the Evidence Based Policy Research Project
Case study Public interest Evidence-based policy Policy failure Policy analysis Policy implementation Australia

The aim of this project is to coax more evidence-based policy decisions by all tiers of government by reviewing and rating 20 high profile government decisions against the Wiltshire business case criteria.

The Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) 2012 discussion paper Public policy drift argued that governments must replace 'policy on the run' with a 'business case approach' to address the 'sense of crisis in the policy-making system.' This approach would involve designing policies based on evidence, consultation, analysis, and debate. The paper outlined a business case approach based on Professor Kenneth Wiltshire’s Ten Criteria for a Public Policy Business Case and analysed 18 federal policies against that criteria, finding that only eight satisfied these standards for policy-making.

In 2018, the newDemocracy Foundation commissioned two think tanks with different ideological leanings – Per Capita and the Institute of Public Affairs – to repeat the analysis, ranking 20 recent high-profile policies (eight federal, and four from each of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland) against the Wiltshire criteria.

In 2019 the project was re-commissioned, with updates to the methodology to address some of the previous year’s inconsistencies. Once again, the project demonstrated that two ideologically opposed think tanks could come to agreement on processes that represented good – and bad – policymaking.

In 2020, in light of the extraordinary policy-making times, the project’s Steering Committee consulted with Professor Kenneth Wiltshire to revisit the methodology.

For 2021, with emergency legislation somewhat less necessary, the methodology has reverted to the 2019 criteria.

Related Information

Evidence based policy research project 2021

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