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Policy Advisory Systems

Supporting Good Governance and Sound Public Decision Making

image of Policy Advisory Systems

Governments face increasingly complex, dynamic and ‘wicked’ challenges that require new policy solutions. To help them understand and respond to these challenges, policy makers often rely on evidence from advisory bodies operating at arms' length from government. This report provides a comparative overview and analysis of the important role played by these bodies in public consultation and decision making. It is based on a survey of policy advisory systems in 17 countries and a series of qualitative interviews. The report examines the institutional set up of such systems, and the role they play in the policy cycle. It discusses how to ensure that they contribute to open, inclusive and sound policy making.

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Understanding the set-up of policy advisory systems

This chapter presents the institutional set-up for policy advisory systems at arm’s length of government. These systems are made up of permanent or ad hoc advisory bodies that differ in structure. Permanent bodies operate as committees/councils or as research institutes, while ad hoc bodies come in various shapes. They can also differ in their position towards government. Bodies at arm’s length are either mandated with full managerial/legal autonomy or are attached to ministries. Advisory bodies can also have a broad or a specific focus. Finally, advisory bodies can be classified by function, ranging from providing evidence and evaluations to ensuring strategic foresight.

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