The coalition government announced the creation of a network of centres providing evidence-based policy-making to guide decision-making on public spending. The 'What Works Network' would consist of two existing centres of excellence the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and the Educational Endowment Foundation plus four new independent institutions covering crime prevention, promoting active and independent ageing, effective early intervention, and fostering local economic growth.
Source: What Works: Evidence centres for social policy, Cabinet Office | Geoff Mulgan and Ruth Puttick, Making Evidence Useful: The case for new institutions, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts
A think-tank report examined attempts to promote a 'civil dialogue' between the European Union and the general public. It said that instead of being consulted directly, people had been 'ventriloquized' through 'sock puppet' charities, think tanks, and other civil society groups that were selected and financed by the European Commission. These organizations typically lobbied for closer European integration, bigger EU budgets, and more EU regulation.
Source: Christopher Snowdon, Euro Puppets: The European Commission's remaking of civil society, Institute of Economic Affairs
A new book examined research techniques and standards for the evaluation of policy and whether they amounted to an evaluation 'science'.
Source: Ray Pawson, The Science of Evaluation: A realist manifesto, SAGE Publications
An article examined which European Union-level characteristics of the open method of co-ordination (OMC) were most likely to result in pressure on national governments to reconsider their policies as a result of OMC-related parliamentary activities and media coverage (drawing on evidence from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands). The findings indicated that, when an OMC was adopted in a policy field without any other type of EU-level activity already present, or did not include indicators/benchmarks or peer learning activities, the OMC would not increase the pressure on a national government.
Source: Rik de Ruiter, 'Full disclosure? The open method of coordination, parliamentary debates and media coverage', European Union Politics, Volume 14 Number 1
Notes: The open method of coordination (OMC) is an intergovernmental means of governance in the European Union, based on the voluntary co-operation of member states rather than the application of legislative measures.
The government responded to a critical report by a committee of peers on changes to official consultation procedures. It said that the issues raised would be referred to an independent review panel.
Source: The Government's New Approach to Consultation: Government Response, 29th Report (Session 201213), HL 124, House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, TSO
Notes: Peers report (January 2013)
A paper examined the development of a crucial component of the European Union's social open method of co-ordination (OMC) its benchmarking toolbox. It considered how benchmarking actually worked through each of its elements, including stakeholder networks, peer reviews, and joint reports. The social OMC's learning tools were more dynamic and diversified than was usually acknowledged.
Source: Peter Lelie and Bart Vanhercke, Inside the Social OMCs Learning Tools: How 'benchmarking social Europe' really worked, Opinion Paper 10, European Social Observatory (Brussels)
An article said that there was a tension between conducting comprehensive systematic reviews and completing them in time to meet policy-making deadlines. The 'rapid evidence assessment' had been proposed as a solution to this: but this mode of reviewing presented considerable challenges in social policy. There were situations in which it might not be feasible to embark on a rapid review, and caution should be exercised when selecting this method.
Source: James Thomas, Mark Newman, and Sandy Oliver, 'Rapid evidence assessments of research to inform social policy: taking stock and moving forward', Evidence & Policy, Volume 9 Number 1
A new book examined attempts at social policy reform in a range of European countries.
Source: Liesbet Heyse, Sandra Resodihardjo, Tineke Lantink, and Berber Lettinga (eds), Reform in Europe: Breaking the barriers in government, Ashgate Publications
Notes: Chapters included: Francesca Gains, 'Modernizing English Local Government: Voice, loyalty, and exit in the demise of the committee system'
An article identified three levels of transposition outcomes for European Union Directives: conformable, partially conformable, and non-conformable. Preference-related factors, in particular the disagreement of a member state and the Commission regarding a Directive's outcome, played a much more strategic role than had to date been acknowledged. Whereas disagreement by a member state delayed conformable transposition, it speeded up non-conformable transposition. Disagreement by the Commission only prolonged the transposition process. A stronger focus on an effective sanctioning mechanism was warranted for safeguarding compliance with Directives.
Source: Thomas Konig and Lars Mader, 'Non-conformable, partial and conformable transposition: a competing risk analysis of the transposition process of directives in the EU15', European Union Politics, Volume 14 Number 1
A report advocated an approach to decision-making in Europe based on shared social responsibilities. It said that it was essential to reformulate existing social choices, ensuring that social, intergenerational, and environmental justice lay at their heart.
Source: Shared Social Responsibility: Putting theory into practice, Council of Europe
A new textbook provided an introduction to the key concepts used in social policy.
Source: Patricia Kennedy, Key Themes in Social Policy, Routledge
An audit report said that 'early action' early deployment of resources by public bodies to prevent problems occurring or getting worse in service provision had the potential to result in better outcomes and greater value for money. But there was little evidence that the coalition government had shifted significant resources to early action projects, or of cross-government co-ordination. Determined leadership was necessary to divert resources away from pressing and highly visible existing needs, in line with public expectations, towards long-term early action programmes, particularly at times of fiscal austerity.
Source: Early Action: Landscape Review, HC 683 (Session 201213), National Audit Office, TSO
A report by a committee of peers said that the new consultation principles introduced by the coalition government in July 2012 carried a risk that the resulting statute would be less robust, because 'rushed' consultation processes made it too difficult for external interests to provide expert critique at the right time. It called on the government to recognize that the principles were failing to provide the consistency and transparency that others looked for in consultation exercises. The government should launch an independent, external review of their new approach to consultation without delay.
Source: The Government's New Approach to Consultation 'Work in Progress', 22nd Report (Session 201213), HL 100, House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Select Committee, TSO
A review examined how central government departments made use of 'horizon scanning'. It assessed the capabilities and structures used by the civil service to anticipate risk and identify opportunities over the medium-to-long term. It made recommendations on how best to enable effective, shared strategic analysis across government on the future challenges facing the country. The focus of the review was on the civil service, but it presumed that horizon scanning would often be undertaken in partnership with others in the public and private sectors.
Source: Review of Cross-Government Horizon Scanning, Cabinet Office