What are policy tools?

By |April 14th, 2015||Comments Off on What are policy tools?

Source: Howlett, M & Shivakoti, R. (2014) Agenda-Setting Tools: State-Driven Agenda Activity from Government Relations to Scenario Forecasting.  DRAFT PAPER, Presented to ECPR Glasgow General Conference, Non-Implementation Tools Panel

Policy alternatives are composed of different sets or combinations of the policy elements described above. Policy instruments1 are the techniques or means through which states’ attempt to attain their goals. They are the subject of deliberation and activity at all stages of the policy process as they affect both the agenda-setting and policy formulation processes as well as being the subject of decision-making policy implementation, and evaluation (Howlett 2005; Howlett, Ramesh and Perl 2009).

They have a special place in the consideration and study of policy design because, taken together, they comprise the contents of the toolbox from which governments must choose in building or creating public policies. Policy design elevates the analysis and practice of policy instrument choice – specifically tools for policy implementation – to a central focus of study, making their understanding and analysis a key design concern (Salamon 1981; Linder and Peters 1990). Instrument choice, from this perspective, in a sense, is public policy making, and understanding and analyzing potential instrument choices involved in implementation activity is policy design. The role of a textbook in policy design thus is one of assisting “in constructing an inventory of potential public capabilities and resources that might be pertinent in any problem-solving situation” (Anderson, p. 122)


In text citations:

Salamon, L. M. The Tools of Government: A Guide to the New Governance. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.





Urban Policy

By |November 20th, 2014||Comments Off on Urban Policy

A Global City on Singaporean Soil: Growing the Economy, not the Gap?
Author/s:TAN SHIN BINYear:2014Abstract:Singapore is a small, resource-scarce state without a natural hinterland or a large domestic market to generate sufficient jobs and economic sustainability. Responding to these constrained circumstances, generations of policy-makers formulated and implemented economic strategies to integrate Singapore into the global economic system, and steer it towards becoming a ‘Global City’, in order to achieve long-term survival and prosperity. This case examines how Singapore’s ‘global city’ strategies affected equality outcomes in the country, and seeks to facilitate a discussion about how, or even whether, Singapore’s policy-makers should adjust these long-held strategies to safeguard equality in the country.

Containing Commercial Sex to Designated Red Light Areas: An idea past its prime?
Author/s:TAN SHIN BIN and ALISHA GILLYear:2014Abstract:In Singapore, the sale of sex is tolerated in selected spaces like Geylang, as part of a wider, pragmatic policy to contain prostitution.  However, over the years, illegal prostitution activities seem to have expanded beyond the boundaries of designated red light districts, and into residential and commercial neighbourhoods like Joo Chiat and Duxton Hill—a phenomenon which points to the limits of governmental efforts to contain prostitution within clear geographical boundaries. How then, should policy makers address the problems that a pure strategy of containment seems ill-equipped to handle? To facilitate a discussion about Singapore’s policy towards prostitution, the case first provides a general description of the commercial sex market in Singapore, and more specific details about the evolution of Geylang, Joo Chiat and Duxton Hill. It then identifies some of the challenges and problems that have arisen from the current approach, and provides an overview of how other countries have sought to regulate the commercial sex [...]

Public Management and Leadership

By |November 20th, 2014||Comments Off on Public Management and Leadership


A Last Mile Problem: A ‘Live’ Case Study of Marina Coastal Expressway
Author/s:VIGNESH LOUIS NAIDUYear:2014Abstract:On 29th December 2013, Singapore’s tenth expressway – the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) – was officially opened. On the first working day after its opening, the MCE was plagued by congestion, leading many commuters to take to social media platforms to voice their anger and frustration. Many commentators attributed the congestion to the lack of salient and effective communication efforts to inform motorists of the quite major changes in the road network. This case study examines the communications strategy adopted by the authorities prior to the opening of the MCE, and asks what could have been done better if policymakers had paid more attention to behavioural insights. The case also analyses the effectiveness of the recovery methods by the authorities following the congestion on the first few days and the subsequent public unhappiness.

Managing the Sin in Singapore’s Casinos
Author/s:TAN SHIN BINYear:2014Abstract:Since Singapore’s early years of independence, the controversial proposal to boost economic growth by allowing casinos here had been repeatedly mooted. The idea had in turn been repeatedly rejected by decision makers who maintained that the social fallout from casinos would outweigh any economic benefits. In 2004 however, things took a different turn, when Singapore’s Prime Minister displayed an new openness to having casinos on local shores and called for a study on this proposal.  This decision sparked off an unusually energetic public response, and generated much media coverage locally and internationally.  The first half of this case examines the debate for and against the legalisation of casino gambling in Singapore, while the second half explores the decision taken, the impacts of the decision, and concludes with two simple questions [...]

Environment and Sustainable Development

By |November 20th, 2014||Comments Off on Environment and Sustainable Development

The Dirty Business of Sand: Sand Dredging in Cambodia
Author/s:FAZLIN ABDULLAH and GOH ANN TATYear:2011Abstract:Global Witness, an international NGO, released its “Shifting Sand” report on sand-dredging in Cambodia in May 2010. The report highlighted the damage sand-dredging was causing to the livelihoods of local fishermen as well as the environment in the Koh Kong Province and alleged corrupt practices in the granting of licences. The sand was being exported to Singapore. Cambodia needed to sell its natural resources in order to develop and had attempted measures to protect its natural resources, however, the report showed that these efforts had not been very effective. The relationship between the Cambodian government and Global Witness had become strained due to earlier confrontations and the Cambodian government rejected the claims made in the latest report. The report, though, had generated interest among the international media and the team at Global Witness needed to define a strategy that would be most effective in stopping the sand dredging given the socio-political climate and the various resources it could mobilize from the government, public, media and development aid agencies.
The Proposed Cross Island Line in Singapore: Nature or Development?

KRISHNAN CHANDRAMOHANYear:2014Abstract:The 50-km long Cross Island Line proposed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is a vital cog in Singapore’s ambitious effort to double the existing national rail network by 2030. It also runs through the central catchment nature reserve (CCNR). Apart from the four reservoirs, the CCNR also holds a wide variety of fauna, including the fragments of the last primary forests in Singapore and flora, which includes endangered species such as the banded leaf monkey. The case brings forth the tension between environmental conservation and urban development in a land [...]

Social Policy

By |September 5th, 2014||Comments Off on Social Policy


Rethinking the Delivery of Welfare Programmes in Singapore
Author/s:VIGNESH LOUIS NAIDUYear:2014Abstract:The Singapore government has always been quite mindful of the potentially corrosive effects of welfare in designing it social policies. In a small city-state with no natural resources, the Singapore government has always feared that the comprehensive provision of state welfare would reduce incentives for individuals to work and strive, and create an entitlement mentality among citizens. The government has therefore sought to keep welfare – or financial support for the poor, the old and the unemployed – on a short leash. The levels of financial help are also relatively low by the standards of developed countries. The emphasis instead has always been on self-reliance and individual savings, the family as the first line of support for the poor, the community as an important ‘helping hand’, and targeting state assistance at those that have no other means of support. To the extent that there is welfare in Singapore, it is low (as it is intended to meet basic needs only), strictly and carefully means-tested, and residual in nature. In social spending more generally, the government has focused more on ‘investment goods’ such as public housing and education, rather than on subsiding people’s consumption.This case examines how ideas from cognitive psychology and behavioural economics could inform the design and delivery of welfare policies in Singapore. It highlights concepts that are relevant to the formulation, implementation and communication of welfare programmes. Using examples of social support programmes in Singapore, the case explores how such programmes should be designed to accommodate people’s cognitive limitations.


Social Egg Freezing, Should It Be Permitted in Singapore
Author/s:MICHELLE KHOOYear:2014Abstract:Could social egg freezing solve the population paradox in Singapore? Elective oocyte freezing (EOF) [...]

Economic Analysis

By |September 5th, 2014||Comments Off on Economic Analysis

Productivity challenges in Singapore Part-1
Author/s:HAWYEE AUYONGYear:2014Abstract:Since 2010, the Singapore government has committed to reduce the rate of growth in foreign labour, and to support economic growth through increases in labour productivity. Singapore’s economic policy challenges today bear little resemblance to the pressing, existential challenges the country faced more than 50 years ago in 1961, where the priority was employment creation. This case explores how Singapore’s challenges in raising labour productivity today could be, to a large extent, the product of economic policy decisions made in the past. Part 1 covers the years 1961 to 1985.

This is part 1 of a 3-part case study.


Productivity challenges in Singapore Part-2
Author/s:HAWYEE AUYONGYear:2014Abstract:Part 2 covers the years 1985 to 1998. After the 1985 recession, Singapore continued with its efforts to raise labour productivity, but the high priority placed on rapid economic growth impeded these efforts somewhat. Factor accumulation, labour force expansion, and wage restraint continued to be important to rapid economic growth. This case also examines how Singapore’s policies towards foreign labour changed after the recession despite persistent misgivings within the government, and discusses some academic analyses of the Singapore growth model that were published in the 1990s.

This is part 2 of a 3-part case study. Part 3 will be available in the last quarter of 2014. Please get in touch with the case writer (sppayhy@nus.edu.sg) if you would like access to the last part of this case study.


Singapore’s Fiscal Response to the Great Recession: Radical Innovation or Incremental Change?
Author/s:ALISHA GILLYear:2013Abstract:Singapore’s Budget for financial year (FY) 2009 was delivered in January, at the start of the Great Recession. Commentators hailed it as an extraordinary budget, and praised the radical policy measures that it contained. Although these claims [...]

Participatory Research

By |September 5th, 2014||Comments Off on Participatory Research

Promoting Healthy Public Policy through Community-Based Participatory Research:  Ten Case Studies

Promoting Healthy Public Policy through Community-Based Participatory Research:  Ten Case Studies.  A project of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health  and PolicyLink, funded by a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

Case Studies Include:

Addressing diesel bus pollution and its health consequences in Northern Manhattan, New York: West Harlem Environmental Action,  Inc., and the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health

Tackling environmental injustice in industrialized hog production in rural North Carolina: Concerned Citizens of Tillery and its partnership with the University of North Carolina, School of Public Health

Moving out of the nursing home and into the community: The Departments of Disability and Rehabilitation at the University of Illinois – Chicago, Access Living, and the Progress Center for  Independent Living
Using “data judo,” community organizing, and policy advocacy  on the regional level: Southern California Environmental Justice  Collaborative
Addressing food insecurity in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point: The Literacy for Environmental Justice Partnership

Preventing lead exposure among children in Tar Creek, Oklahoma: Tribal Efforts against Lead

Improving school conditions by changing public policy in South Los Angeles: The Community Coalition Partnership

Making the healthy choice the easy choice: A Healthy Communities  CBPR Partnership in New Castle, Indiana

Empowering New Mexico’s young people in public policymaking:  Youth Link and Masters in Public Health Program, University of New Mexico

Case Studies

By |July 15th, 2014||Comments Off on Case Studies

Here you will find numerous case studies on a range of topics, organized by policy area.

Water Management

By |July 15th, 2014||Comments Off on Water Management

Primary Source: http://www.feem-project.net/epiwater/

Economic Policy Instruments (EPIs) are incentives designed and implemented with the
aim of adapting individual decisions to collectively agreed goals. They include incentive
pricing, trading schemes, cooperation (e.g. payment for environmental services or
voluntary agreements), and risk management schemes. EPIs may significantly improve
an existing policy framework by incentivising, rather than commanding, behavioural
changes that may lead to environmental quality improvements. They can have a
number of additional or ancillary benefits, such as creating a permanent incentive
for technological innovation, stimulating the efficient allocation of water resources,
raising revenues to maintain and upgrade the provision of water services, promoting
water use efficiency, etc.

Launched in January 2011 for a three-year period, EPI-Water project’s (standing  for Evaluating Economic Policy Instruments for Sustainable Water Management in  Europe) main aim was to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of EPIs in achieving  water policy goals. In a first ex-post assessment, the project studied 30 EPIs in Europe and around the world (Australia, Chile, China, Israel and the United States of America).  Below are the case studies from this project.

Gómez, C. M., Delacámara, G., Pérez, C. D., Ibáñez, E., & Solanes, M. (2011). Water transfers in the Tagus River Basin (Spain)
Gómez, C. M., Delacámara, G., Pérez, C. D., & Rodrígue, M. (2011). Lower Ebro (Spain), Voluntary agreement for river regime restoration services
Dinar, A. (2011). Water Budget Rate Structure. Experiences from Urban Utilities in California
Yang, X. (2011). Case Study of China
CS29 Yates, A. J. (2011). Nitrogen Permit Trading in North Carolina’s
Donoso Harris, G. (2011). The Chilean Water Allocation
Viavattene, C., Pardoe, J., McCarthy, S., & Green, C. (2011). Cooperative agreements between water supply companies and farmers in Dorset
Branth Pedersen, A., Ørsted Nielsen, H., & Skou Andersen, [...]

Cost-Oriented Evaluation Approaches

By |April 29th, 2014||Comments Off on Cost-Oriented Evaluation Approaches

Primary Source: Patton, C. V, and Sawicki, D. S. (1993) Basic Methods of Policy Analysis, Second Edition. Prentice Hall: Englwood Cliffs, NJ.


Just as cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis methods can be applied to ex-ante analysis [link], they can be applied to ex-post policy evaluation. There are comparatively fewer data limitations and other restrictions than in the ex-ante application. In order to conduct a valid ex-post cost-benefit or cost-effectiveness strategy, the program must be able to be measured in quantitative terms. The quasi-experimental approaches to evaluation measure outcomes as scores, rates or similar indicators. But since policy impact is also measured in dollar terms, cost=based approaches should be included as measures in the quasi-experimental design approach.

The cost-oriented evaluation approach assumes that government agencies and other institutions have finite budgets with which to approach an given problem, and that the solution may have to be limited by such constraints regardless of the size or importance of the problem. As discussed in Chapter 7, there are two primary types of cost-oriented evaluation methods:

Cost-benefit analysis compares outcome to input with both stated in monetary values. Valuations can be made on such dimensions as rates of return on investment, net differences between discounted costs and benefits, and benefit-to-cost ratios.

Cost-effectiveness analysis identifies ways of achieving objectives at minimal costs. Instead of assigning monetary values to different objectives (as in cost-benefit analysis), this type of evaluation compares the costs of different ways of obtaining the same, measurable objective.

Having measured policy or program impact, we will want to estimate the cost or net benefit of the change in status detected. Following the principles of cost-benefit analysis, the analyst seeks to measure both tangible and intangible benefits and direct and indirect costs. One approach [...]