Saturday, March 9, 2013

Basic Checklist for Crafting Policy

When confronted with complex processes, like environmental and land use policies and related regulations, a common reaction is out with the old, in with the new. Change can be good, but a measured, comprehensive approach is usually best.

Regulatory systems do not start off complex. Systems become more complex over time as it adapts to real-life situations. These small changes overtime can lead to system-wide inefficiencies. Ultimately, a regulatory system can depart completely from the original intent of the policy.

The first set of questions to consider:
  • Is the problem with current implementation or policies?
    • Is the current policy still applicable?
    • Are resources sufficiently allocated to carry out policy implementation?
    • Over time, have competing policies or amended polices created additional, unmet implementation requirements?
If it is not an implementation problem, here are some questions to consider when amending the original policy or developing a new policy: 
  • Is the policy legally feasible?
    • Does it meet constitutional standards?
    • Does it impact other statutes, ordinances, or rules that will need to be amended?
  • Is there a "rational basis" for the policy?
    • Is there data or evidence to support the policy?
    • Is there a connection between the goals of the policy and the problem?
  • Is implementation clear and feasible?
    • What are the barriers to implementation?
    • Is the implementation process clear to the public, regulators, and the regulated?
    • Have affected stakeholders participated in developing the policy and implementation framework?
  • Is this policy financially sustainable?
    • Is there existing money?
    • Could the policy generate revenue?
    • Will implementation require a reallocation of current public resources? If so, how will those other public services be impacted?
  • Is the policy part of a larger plan?
    • What is the larger plan?
    • How does this policy fit in?
These are basic questions, but a good starting point.

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