Policy Analysis

    natural resources and outdoor recreation collage
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Natural resource and outdoor recreation organizations must develop sound policies that reflect biological research as well as human dimensions research - public attitudes and opinions toward policy issues. Without public support, natural resource and outdoor recreation policy will not be effective.
Six Components of Policy Analysis
The policy process is typically comprised of six components: initiation, estimation, selection, implementation, evaluation, and termination (Brewer & deLeon).
Step 1: Initiation. Initiation begins when a potential problem is first sensed or identified. Once a problem is recognized, many possible solutions to alleviate, mitigate, or resolve it may be explored. This is an early and creative stage in which ideas are generated. The initiation phase involves the tasks of conceptualizing and sketching out the rough outlines of a problem, collecting the information necessary to lay out a range of possible responses, and then beginning to specify potential policy choices within that range.
Step 2: Estimation. Estimation concerns predetermining risks, costs, and benefits associated with each possible option that emerges from the initiation phase. This stage emphasizes empirical, scientific, and projective issues to help determine the likelihood and consequences of the options.
Step 3: Selection. Selection refers to the stage where options are decided upon and executive responsibility is assigned. During this phase, all possible options are debated and explored to reduce the level of uncertainty and to reach the best decision. The prior analytical work to define the problem and assess the alternatives is incorporated into the decision-making process.
Step 4: Implementation. Implementation is the execution of the selected option. Implementation is the most critical and important phase, as it will determine the success of the end result. At this stage, rules, regulations, and guidelines to carry out the decision should be developed. It is also important at this stage to set up program goals and standards.
Step 5: Evaluation. Compared to the previous stages, evaluation is much more retrospective. Evaluation asks questions such as: What policies and programs were successful or unsuccessful? How can performance be measured and evaluated? Were there any criteria established to make those measurements? Were the criteria appropriate; did they incorporate pertinent perspectives and values and emphasize important outcomes and events?
Step 6: Termination. Termination concerns the adjustment of policies, programs, and organizations that have become dysfunctional or unnecessary. Specification of new problems stemming from termination must also be identified.
Responsive Management Methodology
The general strategy employed by Responsive Management in conducting policy analyses is to couple both internal assessments, an "inside-out" approach, with external assessments, an "outside-in" approach. Assessment from the "inside-out" means an organization takes a detailed look at what type of policy the organization would like to set, sets realistic goals and measurable objectives, evaluates its mission, and undertakes the job of better understanding the organization's internal attitudes, values, and vision for the future regarding policy development. Assessment from the "outside-in" means an organization gains a better understanding of and working relationship with its various constituents and the general public by learning the opinions, attitudes, and program priorities of those external constituents toward natural resource and outdoor recreation policies. A thorough understanding of an organization's internal workings placed within the proper context of its external environment makes for the most informed approach to creating natural resource and outdoor recreation policies for the future.
Responsive Management uses various methodologies to conduct policy analyses. Literature reviews can be used to thoroughly research the policy issue from an historical perspective and to compare the policy to other similar policies. Case studies can be used to analyze specific instances of the policy in action, as well as to provide a first-hand look at funding, benefits and drawbacks. Focus groups, personal interviews, and quantitative surveys can be used to gauge attitudes and opinion toward the policy, both internally (those who created the policy or are very close to it) and externally (those affected by the policy).
Responsive Management Experience
Responsive Management has extensive experience in the use of quantitative and qualitative research for policy analyses. Responsive Management has conducted almost 1,000 quantitative and qualitative projects over the past 18 years on natural resource and outdoor recreation issues. Clients include the federal natural resource and land management agencies, most state fish and wildlife agencies, state departments of natural resources, environmental protection agencies, state park agencies, tourism boards, as well as most of the major conservation and sportsmen's organizations. Many of the nation's top universities use Responsive Management for data collection because they recognize the quality of Responsive Management's data services. Because Responsive Management specializes in researching only natural resource and outdoor recreation issues, our senior research staff and research associates conduct research only on these topics and understand the nuances involved in conducting such research.
Brewer, Gary D. and Peter deLeon. 1983. The Foundations of Policy Analysis. The Dorsey Press: Homewood, Ill. 476 pp.

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RM Conducts:
Telephone Surveys
Mail Surveys
Focus Groups
Personal Interviews
Park/Outdoor Recreation Intercepts
Web-Based Surveys
Needs Assessments
Programmatic Evaluations
Literature Reviews
Data Collection for Universities and Researchers
RM Develops:
Marketing Plans
Communications Plans
Business Plans
Policy Analysis
Public Relations Plans

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