Developing recommended changes for the most effective, efficient, and feasible policy is challenging. Through our work in retail food policy analysis, we have identified five things individuals can consider to prepare retail food policy recommendations.
1. Define the problem that needs to be addressed
Describe and provide evidence for the existence, size, and severity of the problem.
- Public policy making is about problem solving. If no problem exists, there is no need to offer a policy solution. Establishing policy to fix a nonexistent problem may unduly burden stakeholders.
2. Describe the cause of the problem
Provide the reasoning and evidence to support a link between the problem and cause.
- Problem solving requires identifying, understanding, and explaining the underlying cause(s) of the problem. Providing information about the source of the problem will help to choose the best solution. Anticipate that your reasoning and evidence may be challenged.
3. Explain why the current policy is not addressing the problem
Explain what barriers or challenges exist that make the current policy insufficient.
- The existing policy may not be sufficient to solve the problem. There may be formal challenges such as existing laws, and informal challenges such as differing perceptions or lack of awareness or training that you should consider and explain.
4. Present your policy recommendation and explain how it compares to possible alternatives
Provide information on alternative solutions considered and explain how and why your policy recommendation is preferable.
- Policy recommendations should offer a solution to the problem that was identified.
- Sometimes policy isn’t the best solution to a problem. Gaps in knowledge, resources, and enforcement of current policy can impact effectiveness. Before proposing a new policy or changes to policy, alternatives should be considered. This should include a description of the criteria you used for the comparison.
5. Characterize the impact of your proposed policy recommendation
Describe the intended and/or unintended consequences, positive and negative, that may result from implementing the proposed policy recommendation
- Do the positive consequences outweigh the negative consequences? Describe why the proposal is a more effective, efficient, and feasible solution.
Anticipate stakeholder questions and concerns
Be prepared to address questions and concerns regarding areas of potential disagreement.
Questions may come in the form of:
- A fact – what is and what isn’t or what happened or didn’t happen
- A value – what is appropriate and inappropriate
- Or a policy – what we should do or what the policy should be
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