The distribution of analytical techniques in policy advisory systems: Policy formulation and the tools of policy appraisal

Document Type


Publication Date



The literature on policy analysis and policy advice has not generally explored differences in the analytical tasks and techniques practiced within government or between government-based and non-government-based analysts. A more complete picture of the roles played by policy analysts in policy appraisal is needed if the nature of contemporary policy work and formulation activities is to be better understood. This article addresses both these gaps in the literature. Using data from a set of original surveys conducted in 2006–2013 into the provision of policy advice and policy work at the national and sub-national levels in Canada, it explores the use of analytical techniques across departments and functional units of government and compares and assesses these uses with the techniques practiced by analysts in the private sector as well as among professional policy analysts located in non-governmental organizations. The data show that the nature and frequency of use of the analytical techniques used in policy formulation differs between these different sets of actors and also varies within venues of government by department and agency type. Nevertheless, some general patterns in the use of policy appraisal tools can be discerned, with all groups employing process-related tools more frequently than “substantive” content-related technical tools, reinforcing the procedural orientation of much contemporary policy work identified in earlier studies.

Publisher's Statement

© 2014 The Authors. Publisher's version of record:

Publication Title

Public Policy and Administration