Panel Paper: Public Policy Models in Deep Time

Saturday, November 8, 2014 : 8:30 AM
Navajo (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Kristie Champlin Gurley, Harvard University and Richard Barke, Georgia Institute of Technology
Influential policy models developed over the past half-century tend to incorporate time implicitly rather than as an explicit factor that affects policy processes. As a result, many these models do not obviously accommodate political and policy questions extending across a generation or more. Policy models should distinguish policy time, the natural timeline of a policy problem, from political time, the timeline of public and institutional attention paid to a particular issue. In all policy models, limited resources must be allocated strategically, plans must be made but adjusted, and political time must either be in sync with policy time or political and institutional processes will need to re-engage as independent policy factors intrude on political considerations. To encompass medium and deep time policy processes, policy models need to be able to address the impact of time on the context of a policy issue, actors and stakeholders, relevant institutions, public resources, and procedures. As time extends, data become unavailable, causal models gain uncertainty, variables proliferate and system effects become more wicked, and the political dynamics of self-interest and bargaining includes unfamiliar actors, strategies, and contexts. Yet these are mostly problems of degree: they all apply to near time as well, albeit usually to a lesser extent. Expressly accounting for short-term and long-term political time could reveal opportunities for altering the design and implementation of policies with deep-time consequences. To that end, this article addresses the ability of nearly a dozen current policy models to account for this distinction and introduces a framework for consideration of political time.