Policy Analysis or Policy Advice?

Policy analysis is the disciplined argument about the impact of proposed or existing government policy.  Policy analysis can be aimed at providing advice to members of the community, groups, business etc about the effects of an existing or proposed policy.

Policy advice, on the other hand, is the information and recommendations given to decision-makers in government to assist in the making of a policy decision. It is usually aimed at a specific decision that could be taken. Policy advice is not merely information, but is provided in the knowledge that a decision-maker is or may need to consider a problem and potential policy responses.

Policy advice comes from a variety of sources: advisors, public servants, lobbyists, policy entrepreneurs, business and industry organisations (business and business groups), quasi-independent tribunals/panels, independent think-tanks, experts and expert panels, community groups and other non-government organisations, government colleagues, other jurisdictions, informal (eg in the pub or taxi) and constituent.

Public servants privilege their own policy advice over advice provided externally. This is because it is viewed as being formal advice which follows a defined process and form, it synthesises advice from other sources (if available), but beyond that it is viewed as one of the most important roles, perhaps the most important role, the public service plays in policy development (followed closely by implementation) and is a core function of the public service. The relevance of its advice provides justification for its ongoing role in the policy process.


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