September 2, 2021

byMaleka Momand

Closing the Feedback Loop in the Policy Lifecycle

2 minute read

Policy is the foundation through which all government workflows originate. This “power of the pen” shapes market forces and can mean the difference between life and death for citizens and businesses. Government agencies have the giant task of creating and administering thousands of regulations and policies every single year across different levels of government: federal, state, and municipal. They have to be nimble in the face of crisis (e.g. COVID) and piece together data and resources to make informed policy decisions. 

But, most government agencies are critically understaffed and lack access to modern technology to support their mission-critical work. Policies are created and forgotten, then layered with more policies that contradict or duplicate efforts. Access to data is limited, and time is always of the essence. The lifecycle of a policy never really reaches maturity because there isn’t a system that tracks policies and downstream consequences. The feedback loop never closes, creating a sprawling morass of policy that can be intimidating to tackle. 

We believe that government agencies can dramatically transform the delivery of services and citizen engagement by shifting their policymaking practice into a modern environment. We want to uplevel the work of our civil servants by recommending technology that can help them create and evaluate policy with data, transparency, and collaboration. 

We identified eight key milestones that encompass the policymaking lifecycle, and discuss the challenges and opportunities for improvement in each step. By mapping the policy lifecycle, we diagnose areas where feedback can be strengthened, and recommend tools that can help policymakers accomplish their best work.

 

Consider some of the most pressing problems in public policy today: 

  • Traditional bureaucracy is painted as static and unresponsive 
  • Broken lines of communication within and across government branches creates redundancy, ambiguity, and misinformation on the effectiveness of policies 
  • Policymaking is an additive process, resulting in hundreds of outdated rules that create clutter and confusion to government and non-government stakeholders
  • No outcome tracking on effectiveness of public policy
  • No single source of truth on de facto v. de jure policies 
  • Policy is often captured by special interests 
  • Manual, convoluted policy workflows result in extended timelines and hesitancy to enact change
  • Difficult for the public to engage in the policy process, and difficult for government to capture their engagement
  • Large moats of institutional knowledge held by individuals, especially dangerous when coupled with the advancing age and impending retirement of much of the government workforce

 

The list of “problems” is really a list of opportunities for technology to align stakeholder incentives toward better policy management. It is important to note that public policy impacts stakeholders from all walks of life, whether they are an industry executive or dedicated civil servant. Each of these stakeholders views public policy through a different lens, and touches upon different parts of the policy process. Their workflows are layered and interwoven and, at times, might conflict with each other. To compound, the state of policy data is often fragmented and in disrepair, while quantitative data is mostly absent. All of these variables create a tangled web of uncertainty and misaligned incentives in the policy process. This is the problem technology must solve.

To learn about the challenges and opportunities within the end-to-end policymaking lifecycle, download the full white paper here.

If you like our ideas, we’d love to hear from you.