With multiple bills introduced into legislatures, there is a need to administer new regulations for passed legislation promptly. To achieve this goal, government agencies identify, save and share relevant regulatory information for policy enactment and enforcement.
Policy management platforms offering research capabilities enable policy researchers to save time identifying model policies and regulating the impact of new laws on their constituency.
What is policy research?
Policy research is the practice of finding and analyzing existing public policies, programs and initiatives. The goal is to provide evidence-based information to shape policy decisions and improve the effectiveness of government services.
Policy research findings are often used to make recommendations for policy changes, identify best practices and evaluate the impact of policies and programs on specific populations or communities.
What is the research process for policymaking?
The research process for policymaking involves the following steps:
- Government agencies identify a problem or issue that requires attention, often based on a new law, input from interest groups, expert opinion or public feedback.
- Policy researchers conduct a research study that will address the identified problem or issue, including selecting appropriate research methods, defining research questions and hypotheses and identifying the relevant population and sample.
- Policy researchers collect data using the selected research methods, which may include surveys, interviews, observations, focus groups, experiments or secondary data sources.
- Policy analysts evaluate the collected data using appropriate statistical and qualitative methods to identify patterns, trends and relationships relevant to the policy issue.
- The policy team uses the research results to make policy recommendations grounded in evidence, feasible and aligned with the policy goals.
The critical nature of the policy process in public administration
Policy management runs on strict timelines. Yet, state officers struggle to move policies along the rulemaking cycle and to the right stakeholders.
If these bills are passed into law, affected government agencies need to create policies for the regulation and enforcement of these laws. In designing these policies, agencies rely on traditional regulatory research methods such as contacting neighboring agencies or parsing other government websites, which are often clunky and difficult to navigate.
Given the time-sensitive nature of the policymaking process, these traditional methods are not only arduous but also less effective.
Why policy researchers should streamline regulatory research in the policymaking process
As a policy researcher, you have these reasons to streamline the research process in formulating and adopting policies:
- Increased transparency and accountability. By enhancing research, policymakers can better account for their time and review resources quickly. For example, with a better system of locating policy research materials, teams can present detailed reports of productive activities to decision-makers, align stakeholders and increase public trust.
- Improved efficiency by saving time and better allocating resources. Research is only a part of the policymaking process, which also includes drafting, analysis, implementation and enforcement. By improving your research approach, your team can make better use of limited time.
Trying to track down documents in a file room isn’t scalable. Read about the benefits of a paperless government in conducting research.
Creating strategies for a data-fueled policy research process
To simplify the process of gathering and analyzing relevant data, start by:
- Prioritizing policy goals and identifying relevant data.
- Establishing a data collection and analysis process.
- Using data to evaluate policy impact.
- Informing policy recommendations and revisions with data-backed resources.
Policymaking software can help teams carry out these steps in less time than a manual approach will take while maintaining the quality of work. Rather than replacing government workers, policy management platforms like Esper aim to streamline source materials and make the research process more efficient.
With Esper, policy analysts can effortlessly conduct research and comparisons of policies alongside any regulations or laws, guaranteeing the most current policies are in place.
To facilitate the research process using our policy library of state and federal regulations and laws, you can:
- Search by keyword, citation number, governing agency, state and specific phrases to narrow in on policies of interest. This feature enables you to locate desired information quickly with just an idea. In the dashboard below, for example, you can see that relevant keywords from other regulations are highlighted.
- Find similar regulations across the United States. Not only can your team discover policies similar to the one you’re proposing, but you can also conduct a side-by-side comparison with these similar laws to identify any gaps you’re yet to address.
- Identify outdated policies or those with repealed statutory authority. Within and outside your constituency, you can locate policies that no longer have the force of law and avoid relying on or drawing inspiration from them while designing regulations for your agency.
- Set up search alerts for given policies so they’re aware of any changes. You can now keep track of policies you’re interested in, which helps you to anticipate needs and propose regulatory reforms.
- View a history of all policy versions to enhance the implementation and evaluation of regulatory recommendations. As an analyst, you can track changes to a policy and make quick comparisons of previous versions to determine the political, social and economic impact of public policy structure.
Identifying the impact of data-backed regulatory research in policymaking
With this data-backed policy research process, policymakers get the evidence they need to make informed decisions.
Policymakers gain a deeper understanding of complex problems as they can identify patterns and relationships that may not be immediately apparent. For example, you can identify which policies will likely be effective and make evidence-based decisions. This way, policies are birthed from empirical evidence rather than assumptions or personal beliefs, which often result in an endless feedback loop in the policy lifecycle.
Consider the case of Montana, where the Governor’s Office believed that small businesses, farmers and ranchers were facing regulatory burdens and compliance issues. To address this concern, the Governor’s Office needed to organize existing data to assess if policies needed review.
Montana then leveraged the Esper platform to identify excessive and outdated regulations for small businesses while streamlining the regulatory process in 13 state-wide agencies. This GovTech implementation resulted in better state-wide policy outcomes.
Read the case study to learn more about how Montana’s Governor’s Office centralizes regulatory work across 13 agencies with Esper.
Leveraging Esper for public policy analysis
If you’re looking to get your hands on the right policy information for your policy research team, we’re your solution. Esper enables government agencies to manage every step of the policy process, including regulatory research and public policy analysis. Ready to make your policy management more efficient? Schedule a meeting with our team.