Not-for-profit organisations want to ensure that their policy submissions to current and future governments are effective, and so they rightly look to align their arguments with election promises and policy platforms made public by the major parties, and to time their interactions appropriately within the policy cycle.
Beyond those considerations, however, there is perhaps a more fundamental issue that advocates need to address regarding the evidence governments would be called on to produce when held accountable for the adoption of the recommended policy. If your policy submissions address the Government’s accountability requirements then they may be more likely to be favourably received.
To that end, I suggest the short paper called Evidence Transparency Framework may be helpful. This framework was developed by the UK Institute for Government (in partnership with Sense About Science and the Alliance for Useful Evidence) and was intended ‘to assist those responsible for, or interested in, holding policymakers to account’.
Related reports called Transparency of Evidence: An assessment of government policy proposals May 2015 to May 2016, and Transparency of Evidence: A spot check of government policy proposals July 2016 to July 2017, may also be worth reviewing. (A revised version of the framework has also recently been published by Sense about Science).
The Evidence Transparency Framework has been condensed into a two-page summary table, in which policy analysts (and the public) are invited to consider what evidence has been used (rated from Level 0-3) and the role it has played in supporting each of the following aspects of the policy proposal:
DIAGNOSIS – Why something is proposed i.e. what issue will be addressed.
PROPOSAL – What is the Government’s chosen intervention?
IMPLEMENTATION – How will the chosen intervention be rolled out?
VALUE FOR MONEY – Consider the costs and benefits of the policy to show why the Government thinks it is worth doing.
TESTING AND EVALUATION – How will we know if the policy has worked?
In my experience, putting yourself in the position of the relevant Minister, and offering a solution to both the policy problem and their accountability requirements, is much more likely to achieve your advocacy objective than attacking the Minister for failing to address a given problem.