Policy Evaluation is the third policy making phase and is the cycle through which the results achieved by the implementation of a policy – desired or undesired – are considered. Evaluation examines how the policy contributed to addressing the initial problem, limiting damages or providing benefits; and it considers how well the policy may perform in the future. Consideration should be given to the fact that some effects of policies are often indirect, diffuse, or take time to appear.
Step 1: Impact assessment:
The first step for policy evaluation is the impact assessment. Based on the policy goals and objectives defined in the Design Phase, and the data collected during the Implementation Phase, the impact assessment is finalized to provide – thanks to multidimensional qualitative and quantitative tools – a framework of the direct and/or indirect effects produced by the policy and compares them against any KPI’s from the policy implementation process. Both desired and eventual undesired outcomes will be taken into account. Core activities include:
- Checking goals and objectives;
Step 2: Restructuring:
The most important output of the impact assessment is the evaluation report, which examines how the policy contributed to address the initial problem, limiting damages or providing benefits; as well as to compare transparently and through data collected during policy implementation, the performances of the implemented actions with respect to the key performance indicators (KPIs). This report is a useful tool for opening a process of informed debate, with key stakeholders and the public, aimed at sharing information, to explore how the implemented actions contribute to address the initial problem, how it may likely perform in the future, and finally to support other steps of a policy in term of re-structuring the action(s), or identifying a new or correlated problem to be faced. At the same time the report reflects on the eventual necessity to keep the problem under the lens of the public administration (so eventually requiring a problem re-structuring) or move the attention on different dimensions of the mobility system.
Step 3: New problem:
The report represents a container of “evidence about the policy”. It assumes a political role both in the public debate as well as in the decision of considering the problem as no longer relevant for policy making. It can be considered the key tool to look at the entire “policy design/implementation” process as an experiment able to create shared knowledge and understanding about the context, about its weaknesses and strengths with respect to specific actions and can lead to the identification of new problems, upon which the policy cycle can start again.