The main rule of thumb for an EO when it comes to research is "Do not reinvent the wheel". Existing research can be accessed and utilized to make arguments effectively. There are a number of channels through which to pursue this.
Policy-making requires information about prior governmental action. If legislation or regulation already exists, then it is likely that the government itself can be a good source of basic information. Areas to draw from include:
- Statistical data from the Central Statistics Offices;
- government agency reports;
- transcripts of parliamentary proceedings;
- Minister of Finance budgets' speeches;
- commissioned scientific research;
- public testimony;
- advice of expert consultants and lobbyists.
The current growth national strategies (e.g., an existing national development plan) will provide a range of broader information and, more importantly, the policy direction the government is taking. It can provide useful information on the external factors explaining the country's growth and poverty reduction pattern, the overall productivity dynamics in the country, the major challenges and opportunities, and the possibilities for economic transformation and diversification. This is a vital document.
Previous growth strategies (previous national plans, major government policy announcements) similarly need to be analysed to see where the EO's issue(s) fit in – what was promised, what was delivered and/or what was not.
The current national development plan (or equivalent statement of government policy priorities) should be the starting point and should give the EO an overall view on the direction the government wants to take regarding the national economy.
The Minister of Finance budgets' speeches will additionally provide crucial information on current spending plans. (Not included here is an analysis of budgetary procedures. This is covered in part 1. Section 1.2 Assessment Tool 6: Assessing the budgetary process).
2.2 Other stakeholders
The first and most likely resource for the EO will be other businesses, trade associations, and research institutions that work on private sector issues.
However, there are many other sources of research and these do not necessarily need to be potential supporters. NGOs, trade unions, consumer groups, and the media may be interested in the EO's issue (even if they have different ideas!). Is it possible to source information from them? This could also provide information on what likely arguments against the EO's position may look like.
In particular, source information from the interest group that advocated for the original policy/regulation. This will be useful in analysing whether the arguments they used to advance the proposal stood the test of time and whether they actually came to fruition.
2.3 Development agencies and donors
Utilizing international indicators which often measure performance in a comparative manner will also be helpful in the diagnostic analysis. These indicators while incomplete and not without fault, are important mechanisms in triggering a 'policy conversation', while also contributing evidence to diagnostic efforts. There is also a comprehensive array of data across policy issues which would be beyond the reach of an EO (see Annex).
2.4 Using the Information
Below is an example of how the abovementioned resources can be distilled into a manageable analysis. A SWOT approach is used where the EO examines "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats" in the government's medium-term planning. From this it can then map its issues in terms of commitments. The example below utilizes 2009 data from Kenya.
|EO SWOT BOX: KENYA||Source(1)|
||World Bank Country Brief 2009|
||First Medium Term Plan (2008 2012) http://www.planning.go.ke/index.php|
||World Bank-IFC Doing Business|
|Opportunities||Govt has committed to:
||First Medium Term Plan (2008 - 2012)|
||World Bank Country Brief 2009|
(1) Resources: PRSPs: http://www.imf.org/external/np/prsp/prsp.asp; UNDAF: http://www.undg.org/unct.cfm?module=CountryTeams&page=Region&RegionID=RAF; Kenya: National Plan http://www.planning.go.ke/index.php; World Bank-IFC: www.doingbusiness.org; World Bank: Country reports http://web.worldbank.org/.../theSitePK:136917,00.html