Quote of the week
“…policy makers and societies more generally are becoming more reliant on the advice of experts.”
It is no secret that many worry about the alleged lack of political support for policy advice. Check out Rob Fonberg’s September article in CGE.
An Australian report tackles the issue by examining the term “expertise.” It argues, first of all, that the importance of policymakers looking for outside expert advice and input is greater than ever given the growing complexity of issues.
Given this fact, then why is there often reluctance on the part of decision-makers to seek out, or believe, such expert advice? The report puts forward the argument that one driver is the growing lack of deference to authority and expertise across the board. The other, perhaps more intriguing thought, is that many believe that so-called experts created whatever mess we now face and are hardly in a position to give advice today.
And what about the use of science (an example of expertise) in the policy and decision-making process? Well, the report suggests that, like expertise itself, science and so-called rational thought are no longer given the respect that they (perhaps) had in the past.
The report proposes that a “problem-centric” approach to using expertise, scientific or otherwise, in the policy process could be useful. Rather than putting the expert opinion down as Gospel, it should be used to drive discussion and problem-solving. Thus, it becomes one nail in the construction of the policy edifice, rather than a heavily weighted input.
There are, of course, many drivers in the political decision-making process, of which expert advice is one. This report is proposing a way in which expert input can be more effectively used to drive smart decisions.