Project LEGAL's

Science Public Policy Analyst

Science Public Policy Steps


Evaluating existing public policies

Evaluating an existing policy or product can lead to improvements. Car companies, for example, evaluate the current models’ advantages and disadvantages to make improvements for next year’s models. Some new car models may have a very minor change, such as reducing the weight to improve gas mileage. Sometimes, though, the evaluation may result in the decision to totally replace an existing model, such as the short history of the Ford Edsel.

Evaluating the main existing policy or policies to deal with a social problem is an important step in the PPA process. Analyzing both the advantages and disadvantages of existing policies can suggest what parts of the current policy should be kept or strengthened, and what parts should be changed. If the existing policy seems to be totally ineffective, then perhaps, like the Edsel, it needs to be replaced.

Years ago, most cities and towns did not have recycling policies. Anything and everything was considered garbage and could be thrown in the trash. Then, the increase in solid waste forced officials to examine their existing waste policies. Many towns and cities simply had the policy of posting a sign near trash cans saying please recycle. The main advantage to that policy was that the only cost was the sign. However, the disadvantage was that there was no way to enforce it. Reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of the waste policies led to policy changes. Cities and towns began requiring all residents to recycle and provided them with separate containers to put recycled goods in. Other new policies allocated money to hire administrators to coordinate recycling programs and work with communities and the Sanitation Division.