Panel Paper: Politics, Policy, and Innovation

Friday, November 8, 2013 : 1:55 PM
Plaza I (Ritz Carlton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Henry Brady, University of California, Berkeley
Many people, including academics, have new policy ideas that they want to bring to the attention of policy-makers, but most do not know how to get the attention of the right people to consider their ideas.   This panel will discuss the strategies that can be used to successfully get ideas into the policy process.   The panelists are all experts in getting the attention of the government or in processing new policy ideas from within the government (and some of them have worked on both sides).   Panelists will discuss the following topics:

Identifying the Right Place to Begin – The federal government is big, so it is important to know where to begin.   Who should those with policy ideas contact first?   Should those with policy ideas start with the Executive Office of the President (National Security Council, Domestic Policy Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Council of Economic Advisors, etc.), with the policy shops in the individual agencies, or with some other place?   What about Congress?   Should policy innovators contact legislators or their staff?   What about lobbying groups or think-tanks?  

Getting the Right Time to Make an Approach – When is the best time to approach these groups?   Should those with policy ideas wait until there is a policy crisis such as an environmental disaster, a mass shooting, a downturn in the economy, or news reports on the inadequacy of our schools?   Indeed, is it possible to manufacture a good time by a media campaign around some research that brings people’s attention to the problem?   And what role do the “cycles” of government such as the annual state of the union, the budget, Congressional hearings, and other standard regimens play?  

What kind of Analysis should the Innovator Present? – What kind of information should the policy innovator provide decision-makers?   Should there be a fully worked out set of budget estimates or policy impacts available?   Should the innovator be able to point to states or localities that have tried the policy idea?   What kind of evidence is persuasive?   Should the policy innovator try to anticipate the politics surrounding a new policy idea or simply present a great idea?   Should the innovator think about the policy tool that will be used:  grants, regulations, mandates, public-private partnerships, market creation, disclosure, tax expenditures, or loan guarantees?  

What Kind of Allies Does the Innovator Need? – Should the innovator get a lot of academics to endorse the proposal?  Or is it better to find some politicians –governors, state or local legislators, or lobbyists – who are advocates for the idea?  

Some Case Studies of Innovation – The panel will discuss some examples where innovation succeeded and where it failed.  Panelists will use these arguments to indicate what works and what does not work.