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Organizations for Policy Analysis

Helping Government Think

Explores the histories and structures of US policy analysis institutions.

Executive Summary

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p>Background
Organization for Policy Analysis explores the histories and structures of US policy analysis institutions. A distinguishing feature of US policy organizations is their specialized ability to make plausible and relevant sense of data. The book studies 14 organizations:

  • Five non-governmental or external units – Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute, RAND Corporation, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Center for Policy Research in Education
  • Four executive government units – White House Domestic Policy Analysis; Office of Policy Analysis, Department of the Interior; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, HEW/HHS (Health, Education, and Welfare/Health and Human Services); and Office of Inspector General, DHHS
  • Six legislative units – Congressional Research Service, General Accounting Office, Congressional Budget Office, Office of Technology Assessment, and California Legislative Analyst's Office

The study excludes for-profit, advocacy, and academic institutions because they each have inherent biases or influences which limit their objectivity and/or influence.

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p>Comments The writing style and organization of this book, which varies from chapter to chapter, is distracting. The book successfully outlines the histories and purposes of the 15 policy analysis institutions. It does not highlight the relative strengths and/or weaknesses of these institutions or consistently provide the reader with keys to successful policy analysis. Nor does it solicit outside opinions on any of the institutions. In other words, it is mostly a historical primer and, as such, provides guidance for viewing the context of these types of policy analysis institutions in the United States.

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p>Highlights

  • The preface provides helpful background and explains why certain types of policy analysis institutions (advocacy, academic, and for-profit) were excluded from the study.
  • The Introduction provides an overview of the book's findings and conclusions.
  • Chapter 14, mentioned above, offers a concise and useful way to analyze the differences among the legislative institutions.

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