The Systems Approach and Public Policy
Prerequisites to the entrance of scientists and scientific methods into governmental policymaking. The systems approach — including systems analysis, operations research, management science, and systems engineering — is a practical philosophy for executing decision-oriented interdisciplinary research, based on quantitative models of a total problem. This approach has successfully aided decisionmaking in commerce, industry, and defense — fields with specific, limited problems and goals, centralized authority, and an underlying design amenable to modeling. However, to be useful in government, the systems approach needs certain reforms. (1) [Analysts] must accept as a model any device for predicting and comparing the outcomes of alternative actions — e.g., Delphi, an iterative procedure, based on questionnaires, for eliciting and refining group opinions. (2) They must adapt the systems approach to decentralized authority and political considerations. (3) [Public officials] must integrate this approach into the policymaking system, for automatic serious consideration of its recommendations. (4) They must support analysis with interdisciplinary research.