Strategy, Policy & Evaluation
Planning and analysing situations and challenges, to develop and deliver excellent advice to government is at the heart of what we do as a public service.
The public service will always have an important role in providing high quality policy advice to successive governments. Proficiency in strategy, policy and evaluation is key to the capability and professionalism of the public service.
Understanding the strategic objectives, purpose and desired outcome is critical to effective policy development.
APS Craft: Strategy, Policy and Evaluation - Stephanie Foster
It takes a set of qualities and practises to be able to develop and deliver and implement great policy in an environment that where there are no silver bullets.
Why is strategy, policy and evaluation important to the work we do at the APS?
The process of articulating a strategy and then developing the supporting policies to deliver on that gives us the best possible chance of doing what we're all here to do. And we're all here because we want to make a difference to the lives of Australians. And we want to make a positive difference and in the shortest possible time and with the least possible pain and expense.
How can strategy help our work at the APS?
If we have a clear idea of what we need to achieve, what objectives we're trying to deliver, then the pathway we take will be much clearer to get there. And it means that we'll be directing our efforts and our resources and our people to absolute maximum effect.
Why is policy important?
Strategy is critical in terms of looking at the whole game and knowing where you want to go, but without the underpinning policies that are anchored in today's world and today's problems and delivering now, it's half a pie.
Why is evaluation important?
I think we need to fundamentally change the way we think about evaluation. Unless we actually start our thinking about our policy with its eventual evaluation in mind, and with its ongoing evaluation in mind, then the risk is that we never get there because priorities change, the program changes. The evaluation strategy that we designed when the program looked like that is no longer appropriate when it looks like this. It also means that we're not setting ourselves up to respond adaptively.
What’s your best advice for delivering sound Strategy, Policy and Evaluation?
Having a set of four principles and a checklist of 10 things you should do in front of you when the world is going mad around you can be the difference between delivering something excellent and having a disaster.
What’s the most important thing to remember when developing Policy?
Extraordinarily important in that policy process to be walking in the shoes of the people whom we're trying to support or deliver services for, or deliver better outcomes for, and genuinely understand what the world looks like from their perspective and what will make the most difference to them.
Delivering great policy advice to government is at the heart of what we do as a public service. It’s the best advice that we can provide to decision makers to enable them to deliver better outcomes for all Australians. Great policy advice is achieved when it is:
- clear on intent;
- well informed;
- practical to implement; and
Whether there is a need for immediate advice, or for long term policy development, your policy capability must evolve and adapt to broader changes in the policy environment. Great policy also requires whole of government coordination and genuine engagement with stakeholders within, and outside, government.
In addition, conducting high quality analysis into the impacts of new policy ideas ensures the analysis we provide is informed by evidence and consultation. The Regulatory Impact Analysis framework, administered by the Office of Best Practice Regulation, provides the foundation for building a strong evidence base to support decision makers.
Robust evaluation is critical at all stages of policy development to achieve desired strategic outcomes. Outcomes must be reviewed and tested regularly to ensure they are on track to being achieved. The public service must also learn from previous evaluation findings, and make adjustments to improve and stop activities that are not leading to desired outcomes.