New government ministers, councillors and advisers have been learning the ins and outs of policy implementation in a series of workshops aimed at enhancing service to stakeholders and the public.
“The Cabinet Office is committed to furthering this aim in the public interest, and we believe the public will soon start to feel the benefits of this approach,” said Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose.
His office, which coordinates the development and implementation of government-wide policy, organised the sessions.
Robert Lewis, director of the Policy Coordination Unit, led the workshops, building on sessions held over the past year for senior and mid-management civil servants. The sessions for new government officials ensure that they have similar exposure to the policy framework as senior civil servants in an effort to promote better understanding between decision makers and those who implement policy.
Attendees learned that unless a policy is properly developed, it is likely to be partly implemented, ineffective or shelved. As an example, Mr. Lewis referred to Vision 2008, the Cayman Islands Nation Strategic Plan 1999–2008. Based on feedback from previous workshop participants, it was noted that while some of the strategies in the policy have been acted on since the document was published, many were not within the 10-year time frame of the policy.
Attendees were also told that there must be a good balance of stakeholders at the table when policies are drafted. Too often, Mr. Lewis said, policies are written and shelved because key stakeholders were not at the table early.
He said that monitoring, review, evaluation and change are key in determining the progress or effectiveness of policy. He also noted that to avoid conflict of interest and encourage accountability, policies should always be evaluated by entities other than those who implement them, citing third parties as the best option.
National policies should have action plans, he said, including who’s going to do the work, the scope of the work and resources required, and when results can be expected. He added that evidence of short-term progress is necessary to show that the policy is working.
Policy researchers should also explore what some may view as unforeseen consequences, he said,
Finally, policy writers should state the bottom line up front, said Mr. Lewis.
“What’s the most important thing to your audience?” Whatever it is should be at or very close to the beginning of the policy, he said, otherwise the reader may lose interest.
Attendees learned that unless a policy is properly developed, it is likely to be partly implemented, ineffective or shelved.