Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Paul Light: Think Tanks Don't Think About Policy Implementation

In a recent interview with Federal News Radio, Paul Light, a professor at New York University (NYU) and founding principal investigator of the Global Center for Public Service, has some tough words for think tanks:
What policymakers to on Capitol Hill, and in academia, and think tanks is that they generate these complicated policies and assume that you can just chuck the policy over to the bureaucracy and it will be implemented.  That is just not true.
Some of these policymakers have a certain arrogance as they are drafting legislation.  They don't know much about implementation.  They don't think for a second about implementation.
If you run your finger down the phone books of think tanks around Washington you will rarely find anybody on the team on the scholars list who specializes in implementation.  It's just a non-starter.  It's so boring for most people.  They don't think about it because it's not what turns their boards on and it's not what raises money.

Dr. Light is not speaking out of thin air.  He was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Founding Director of the think tank's Center for Public Service.  He was also Vice President and Director of the think tank's Governmental Studies Program.