Project LEGAL's

Science Public Policy Analyst

Science Public Policy Steps


Introduction to Costs and Benefits

By now you have selected a public policy. Your choice was based on your initial estimates of effectiveness and feasibility.

Now it is time to examine effectiveness more closely. You probably selected your policy because you believe it will bring about good or desirable consequences. These future good consequences are called benefits. Your policy may also bring about some bad or undesirable consequences. These are called costs. The process of studying the benefits and costs of a public policy is called evaluation.

Evaluating a public policy can be done when formulating a policy. It can also be applied to current policies. Failure to evaluate policies hurts policy-making in several ways:

  • Policies that do not work may be continued
  • Policies that do work may be discontinued
  • Potential lessons from our mistakes are lost
  • Policy makers are not held accountable for what they do


Identifying Benfits