Cover: The Systems Approach and Public Policy

The Systems Approach and Public Policy

Published 1969

by E. S. Quade

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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.

This report is part of the RAND paper series. The paper was a product of RAND from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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