Better policy making

Improving how Whitehall does its core business

Digital government: a new approach is needed

, 21 June 2016

To achieve a transformation of government through the use of digital technologies requires a complete reversal of the current way of looking at the challenge. Instead of viewing the problem from the point of view of the internet, we must start with the political process of policy design. This is our conclusion from research,...

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Cock-up, not conspiracy, conceals evidence for policy

, 9 June 2016

Missing Evidence, published this month, reviews how much government-commissioned research is publicly available. Sir Stephen went in suspecting conspiracy – and, surprising no-one who has worked inside government, found cock-up. A few high-profile cases of delayed publication suggested there might be a deliberate strategy within government to suppress externally commissioned research. Indeed, there were some cases...

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The social investment approach to public spending in New Zealand: looking to the long term

, 17 May 2016

Social investment is an attempt to address the economic costs of New Zealand’s “20 to 30 year exposure to social dysfunction,” as part of the New Zealand Government’s long-term approach to fiscal control. Rather than simply cutting departmental budgets to reach short-term fiscal targets, the intention is to take spending decisions informed by a...

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Crime fiction: policy won’t work if it’s based on myth not reality

, 5 May 2016

A mass redeployment of policing resources to Oxford or Midsomer – two murder hotspots, if you believe what you watch on TV – would strike most people as absurd. But, as IfG Senior Fellow Tom Gash argues, many pet criminal justice policies are based on less obvious but also highly misleading assumptions. Sensible crime...

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How can we make tax policy (and budgets) better?

, 29 April 2016

In the past few years, the Institute for Government and others have repeatedly drawn attention to problems in tax policy-making and budgets. Just over a month since the March 2016 Budget, memories of the messy aftermath have dimmed as the EU referendum debate and concerns on tax transparency have moved centre stage. But at...

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Preparing for outsourcing failures

, 19 April 2016

Three different outsourcing failures have hit the headlines recently. Seventeen Edinburgh schools were closed down after it emerged that private contractor Edinburgh Schools Partnership had botched their construction. It has also emerged that the Government has paid out millions in compensation to learndirect. Learndirect was frontrunner to win a new Driver and Vehicle Standards...

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Energy inefficiency

, 14 April 2016

Promoting energy efficiency has proved hard for governments. Everyone agrees it is a good thing – both for energy bills and to reduce CO2 emissions. But relatively few people care enough to fork out the cash upfront to take the measures needed. On paper the Green Deal is a rational policymaker’s dream: assess what...

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Getting legislatures to engage in the evidence behind policy

, 8 April 2016

Anyone who has been watching BBC2’s riveting Inside Obama’s White House will have noted the US Administration’s increasing despair at navigating an increasingly polarised and hostile Congress. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that Congress just passed the Murray-Ryan Bill, co-sponsored by Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat, and Representative Paul Ryan...

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Putting low pay out of commission: does the National Living Wage herald the end of the Low Pay Commission?

, 4 April 2016

When we brought together those who had worked on implementing the minimum wage, Chris Pond, of the Low Pay Unit pressure group (one of the few early protagonists of a minimum wage in the UK), told us that ‘back in the 80s, the minimum wage wasn’t controversial at all. Nobody thought it was a...

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Politics and regulation: recipe for conflict or constructive partnership?

, 31 March 2016

The panellists – Sir Thomas Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, and former Rail Regulator and International Rail Regulator; Sir Edward Davey, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change; and Ed Richards, Independent Chair of the Financial Services Trade Associations Review, and former Chief Executive of the Office of Communications (Ofcom)...

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