Impact Assessment and Evaluation (continued)
RPA’s public sector clients (such as the European Commission and UK Government Departments) have established procedures for conducting impact assessment. In broad terms, the impact assessments undertaken by RPA involve the following general steps:
- Clear identification of the main issues and the problems to be addressed, who/what is affected, and what is likely to happen if no action is taken (often called the ‘do nothing’ option)
- Consideration of the potential solutions to the identified issues and problems
- Development of the main policy options and potential delivery mechanisms (for example, legislation, voluntary agreements, taxes or other ‘economic instruments’)
- Analysis of the economic, social, health and environmental impacts of each option
- Comparison of the costs and benefits of the different options to identify a preferred option where possible or appropriate
- Identification of key progress indicators for the most important objectives and a monitoring structure to allow the effectiveness of the selected option to be evaluated
Public and governmental organisations in particular are accountable for their actions and must justify their interventions. As such, once a legislative (or policy) change has been implemented there is a need to evaluate whether it has been effective. This requires evidence to be presented on the costs and the effectiveness of the intervention. As with impact assessment, this is often undertaken by an independent third party such as RPA.
As well as providing the necessary transparency and accountability, evaluating the success (or otherwise) of a policy or regulation is crucial to learning lessons for the future. It is vital to know what worked well, what did not and consider how alternative approaches might improve the results. The knowledge generated by evaluation plays a critical role in the development and refinement of new and existing legislation and policies.
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