Think like RAND on the Hill

If you’re a staffer on the Hill, Rand Corp., the think tank famous for its systems analysis approach, is offering its Public Policy Analysis Workshop when congressional politics routinely slow down in August.

From noon to 2 p.m., Aug. 6-9, Jeffrey Wasserman and Jeanne Ringel of the Pardee Rand Graduate School will offer a curriculum similar to those held for advisers to first ladies from across sub-Saharan Africa, government officials from an unnamed Middle Eastern nation, U.S. Army officers and MPH students and public health physicians in Singapore.

According to Rand, students will learn: a framework for analyzing complex policy problems in a systematic way; how to incorporate political feasibility into the calculus; how to use a matrix to clearly outline policy elements and trade-offs; and how even a small amount of policy analysis skill can lead to better policy formulation.

The class outline:

Introduction to and Overview of Policy Analysis

•What is policy analysis?

•How can it be used to make better policy decisions?

•Roles of policy analysts

•How can busy policy decisionmakers and executives be better consumers of policy analyses?

Phases of Public Policymaking

•Sources of policy ideas

•Participants on the inside and outside of government

•Problems, agendas, and policy formulation

•Policy adoption

•Policy implementation

•Policy impact, evaluation and change

Basic Techniques for Conducting Policy Analysis

•What are some ways to structure policy analyses?

•How much analysis is enough?

•What could go wrong in conducting a policy analysis?

•How do you deal with uncertainty in the policy environment?

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He blogs and hosts a podcast at and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.


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