Evidence-based policymaking will help in reducing the gap between policy planning, its objectives and deliverables. The basics of policymaking and data-driven or evidence-based policymaking are explored in this piece.
Policy analysis, evaluation and study of the formulation, adoption, and implementation of a principle or course of action intended to ameliorate economic, social, or other public issues. Policy analysis is concerned primarily with policy alternatives that are expected to produce novel solutions. Policy analysis requires careful systematic and empirical study.
Evidence-based policy, public policies, programs, and practices are grounded in empirical evidence. The movement for evidence-based policy is an outgrowth of a movement in the United Kingdom in the 1990s calling for “evidence-based medicine,” which argued that only those treatment modalities (such as drugs) that are grounded in laboratory (experimental) evidence should be used.
Evidence from randomised evaluations can yield insights and conclusions into questions at the heart of controversial policy debates. Since the past decade or so, evidence-based policy-making has gained traction, with some governments and NGOs having institutionalised processes for rigorously evaluating innovations and incorporating evidence into decision-making.
The prerequisite for evidence-based policy is that the data must be trustworthy, and it depends upon the quality of data and the quality of professional statisticians. Credible statistics is important for good governance and decision-making in all sectors of society. Therefore, policy-makers are more likely to use evidence in decision-making if that evidence is unbiased, rigorous, substantive, relevant, timely, actionable, easy to understand, cumulative and easy to explain to constituents.
There are eight skills required to support evidence-based policymaking, namely, understanding policy & science, interpersonal skills, synthesising skills, managing expert communities, communicating scientific knowledge, advising policymakers, engaging with citizens and stakeholders, and monitoring evaluation.
On September 7, 2017, the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (Evidence Commission) released its final report to the president and Congress with a strategy for better using the data that the government already collects. The report contained 22 unanimous recommendations that focused on responsibly improving access to government data, strengthening privacy protections, and expanding the capacity to generate and use evidence.
The Government of India is taking steps in the direction of evidence-based policymaking. India needs evidence-based policymaking, for which a batch of surveys is being undertaken, said GoI Minister Bhpender Yadav.
Additionally, NITI Aayog, the government think-tank has launched the National Data and Analytics Platform (or NDAP) to improve access and use of government data.
NITI Aayog aims to make data more accessible by hosting data in clean, machine-readable formats, ensuring datasets are interoperable, and providing detailed documentation on the contents of each dataset. As of May 2022, NDAP hosts 203 datasets from across 14 sectors and 46 Ministries.
Datasets on the platform are required to meet a minimum data quality standard that is defined using NDAP’s in-house 5-star rating framework. Applying this minimum standard ensures that all datasets on NDAP are accompanied by detailed documentation, have been mapped to a common data schema (the Local Government Directory), and have passed internal data quality checks to ensure that they remain true to the source.
Features of the platform are self-explanatory. The information can be used by various professionals as well as citizens. Data-driven policymaking will help in achieving and measuring targets. It will also lead to first understanding demand and then effective distribution to eligible beneficiaries. After the pandemic, the need of policymaking for betterment of the world is being highlighted more than ever.
Ms. Vaibhavi Pingale is a Visiting Faculty of Economics at Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune & at Savitribai Phule Pune University. She is pursuing her PhD. She has been actively writing media articles other than academic research.