Public Policy Analyst
Gathering information from knowledgeable people
Knowledgeable people can help you at every step in the PPA process. In step 1, they can provide information that will help you to define your problem more specifically. They may also suggest where you can research evidence of the problem (step 2). No doubt, they have some views about the causes of the problem and contributory factors (step 3). Probably they are familiar with the major current policies concerning the problem (step 4) and they may have some ideas about what policies should be enacted to address the problem (steps 5 & 6). It should be stressed that knowledgeable people are resources for your analysis. They are not doing the research for you.
Use the blue pages of your phone directory to locate government officials. The yellow pages can be used to locate nonprofits and businesses. Some Internet sites, such as infospace.com can also help you to locate knowledgeable people from government or organizations in your geographic location. Decide whether you want to contact the person by phone, e-mail, or a personal visit.
When you contact the person, explain your purpose. Point out that you would like to use them as a resource throughout your PPA process. Most people do not mind talking with students about a problem related to their work or their organizationís goals. In fact, you may tell the person that you will provide them with a copy of your final PPA analysis.
Keep in mind that knowledgeable people often have strong opinions about the social problem. That means that the information they provide may be biased to support their position on the problem. Therefore, you may wish to work with several knowledgeable people, ask them the same questions, and compare responses.