Dr Ulrike Hotopp, Chief Economist, Simetrica and member of the Council of the UK Evaluation SocietyI have only recently joined the small economic research consultancy Simetrica. Before this I spent 16 years in the Government Economic Service, starting as an economic advisor in DTI in 2000 (now known as BEIS). I first worked on employment policy and one of my main tasks was to produce Impact Assessments for new employment regulation using the tools of Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA). These can also be described as ex-ante evaluation – forecasting the impact of new regulation.
Having done a few of these, an important question is: how realistic was the assessment? Was it really true that improved maternity rights had no impact on female employment but instead improved the rate of women returning to work after having a child? Were there any wider micro and macro economic effects? On other groups in the labour market, company profits?
Emma Uprichard and Robert MacKay, University of Warwick
Interviewed by Candice Howarth, University of Surrey
CECAN is exploring how evaluation of policy can better inform the impact those policies have and assess the extent to which these have been successful. In order to do this, access to data is crucial, yet can at times be problematic. CECAN’s Knowledge Integrator, Candice Howarth met Emma Uprichard and Robert MacKay from the Centre and based at the University of Warwick and asked them over a series of emails to explain what the implications of some of these challenges are.
Why is data needed in evaluations?
Gary Kass, Visiting Professor, Centre for Environment and Sustainability, University of Surrey
As the world changes in complex and unpredictable ways, Government is changing too. As it does so, the need grows for policy-making and the evidence that informs it to be alive and responsive to the increasing pervasiveness of complexity. In public service systems the increase in complexity often means that no single institution is ever ‘in charge’ or has direct control over how changes unfold. In response, as policy-makers and service deliverers begin to recognise the new reality of pervasive complexity, we see a fading of inadequate notions of one-size-fits all, predict-and-provide and command-and-control approaches. Rather, we see a brightening of newer notions such as open policy-making; outcomes-focus; and service-driven adaptive approaches.
One key driver of these shifts is the growing recognition that complexity and uncertainty are pervasive and dominant features in the world with many of the certainties and stabilities of the past being eroded or removed. A key requirement, then, is to build capacity to set and deliver public policy as these changes unfold.