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Table 1. Helpful Questions To Ask When Assessing and Selecting Policy Options

Criteria Governing Choice
What values are at issue?
Options Identification and Assessment
What might be done? What are the anticipated outcomes of possible actions?
Option(s) Selected
What is the preferred option/mix of options?
  • Which criteria should govern the decision?
  • Which broad approach or strategy is consistent with the key values?
  • Identify the full range of options.
  • What have others tried?
  • How do options compare?
    • Costs and benefits?
    • Winners and losers?
    • How do they meet the criteria?
  • Conduct tests of plausibility and feasibility on the key options.
  • Determine what resources would be required:
    • New budget dollars.
    • Political leadership.
    • Staff expertise.
  • Assess interrelationships and conflicts in mix of options.
  • Make an intuitive first cut on option or mix of options to be recommended.
  • Identify available resources.
  • Refine by considering:
    • Ranking costs and benefits of options.
    • Obstacles and constraints to be overcome in implementation.
    • Compatibility of mix of options.
  • Develop fall-back position if fewer resources are available.
  • Apply test of plausibility to mix of options.

Source: Helms WD. Policy Analysis Framework. Presented at: AHRQ Workshop, Using Policy Analysis and Research More Effectively in Decisionmaking; July 29, 2002; Rensselaerville, NY.

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