Evidence-based policy making involves rigorous research and is a fundamental aspect of successful public service. Taxpayers want reassurance that tax dollars are not being spent frivolously but are instead going toward effective social reform and community building. Managers must ensure that information regarding resource allocation and program results is readily accessible, thereby increasing transparency and accountability. A focus on evidence also allows program managers and beneficiaries to better appreciate the concrete impact of social enterprises. However, assessing program efficacy is not always an intuitive process, and it requires substantial data collection and analysis. An online Master of Public Administration program can help prepare you for the demands of data-driven governance.
Data Collection and Research
There are many ways to demonstrate the utility of social programs or nonprofit organizations. Careful recordkeeping and data collection are pivotal. Analysts must gather baseline data for populations served and services offered, and they must strategically identify and categorize relevant information regarding program goals. Longitudinal studies can track progress over time. Self-reports, interviews, questionnaires and case reports can also provide valuable information about gains for individuals and families. Database creation and management require skill and specialized knowledge in order to yield meaningful interpretations that explain program results. A strong MPA program can provide an introduction to research methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative, and statistical techniques useful in the analysis of urban trends and administrative programs.
Successful Program Implementation
Implementing large-scale programs and far-reaching initiatives requires foresight and coordination. Like a business, many players must collaborate to ensure that, administratively, programs run smoothly. Staff training and development requires time and resources, and all service providers need clear expectations. A solid social program consistently delivers integrated services in an organized, well-orchestrated manner. Lack of quality standards and regulatory measures can lead to program failure and wasteful spending. Throughout your MPA coursework, you will learn how best to accommodate the needs of diverse communities by designing efficient programs with clear objectives and administrative processes.
Budgeting and Fiscal Responsibility
Evidence-based policy making revolves around careful budgeting and fiscal responsibility. Basing budgeting decisions on evidence of program effectiveness can ensure the delivery of funding priority to those programs that offer the highest return on investment; cost-benefit analyses can determine which programs will offer the best returns. MPA programs can prepare you for budgeting by introducing principles and practices that federal, state and local governments use to acquire and spend revenues. You will also acquire practical skills and theoretical knowledge to enable you to be an effective participant in the budgeting process and a critical consumer and producer of research relevant to public budgeting.
Reporting Your Findings
Gathering evidence of program efficacy is a vital first step toward securing more backing and support for practical and innovative programs. Delivering information about key findings in a clear and direct manner can also help to attract more funding and government support for new initiatives. Presenting research and facts in a direct, compelling manner is a communication skill that you can develop as part of your master's studies; reaching potential donors and contributors in a meaningful way relies upon both written and oral communication skills. In the end, statistics are simply empty figures without proper explanation. Therefore, how you share knowledge is just as important as conducting research.
Legislation should always rely on in-depth research. There are countless worthy causes, but not every approach to solving social challenges is practical or worthwhile. As you begin a career in public service, a Master of Public Administration degree can provide the tools you need for successful, evidence-based policy making.
Learn more about the UT Arlington online MPA program.
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