Combining Information

A Key Quantitative Skill for Policy-Makers

Published in: Statistics, Science and Public Policy V: Society, Science and Education / Edited by Herzberg AM, Krupka I., (Ontario, Canada: Queen's University, 2001), Chapter 8, p. 71-76

by Sally C. Morton

In this paper, I shall use a 1998 controversy to illustrate a common challenge for policy-makers: assembling and assessing disparate data, combining information to make decisions, and allocating finite resources based on the input of scientists and statisticians while the media watch. This paper emphasizes that education must be lifelong and respond with flexibility as new methodology develops. But one should not focus solely on tertiary education, but rather, think beyond university education.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.