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Linking policy and practice: challenges, lessons learnt and charting a way forward Some suggestions for NGO’s on influencing policy Brendan Tuohy
Understanding the Levers of Power “Bernard, if the right people don't have power do you know what happens? The wrong people get it. Politicians, counsellors, ordinary voters. ”
Presentation • Overview of government • Structure of the civil service • How is policy made & implemented and what is the context for it? • Understanding the decision-making process • How does an NGO influence policy? • Example of an international NGO • Conclusions
Overview of Government - The current Dáil has 166 members - Under the Constitution the Government shall consist of between seven and fifteen members - The Government exercises executive authority in Ireland - Current Government has 15 Departments. Each Department has a Minister of the Government, generally supported by one or more Ministers of State
Government Ministers – – – – Agriculture, Fisheries & Food Arts, Sports & Tourism Communications, Energy & Natural Resources Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs Defence Education & Science Enterprise, Trade & Employment Environment, Heritage & Local Government Finance Foreign Affairs Health & Children Justice, Equality & Law Reform Social & Family Affairs Taoiseach Transport & Marine
The Civil Service (stereotype)
Overview of Civil Service - Types of civil servant: 1. Civil servant of the Government 2. Civil servant of the State - Civil Servant of the Government: Body of civil servants which advise and carry out the work of the Government, through the Departments of State. - Civil Servant of the State: Independent from Government. Relatively small number of civil servants.
Dept. of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Secretary General Deputy Secretary Energy Sector Assistant Secretary Corporate Management Assistant Secretary Communications & Broadcasting Assistant Secretary Natural Resources Assistant Secretary Seafood Policy
How is policy made? • Deliberative policy – Programme for Government – EU or other legal requirements – Commitments at social partnership • Emergent Policy – As issues emerge – e. g. banking crisis, climate change • Players – Politicians, civil service, interest groups, business, civil society, influencers, lobbyists
The policy context Programme for Government (Statement of Strategy) Legislative requirements (e. g EU, Courts, C&AG) Budgetary/Estimates process Social Partnership (Programme) Legislative process
Policy implementation process Policy Monitoring / Strategy Feedback Funding Initiatives Legislation
Opportunities for intervention • Examples – Broadcasting Bill, 2008 – Charities Bill, 2008 – Finance Bill, 2008 • Forum on Broadcasting • Ministerial amendments • Opposition amendments
Who makes the decisions? • The organisational iceberg • Overt organisation – formal structure • Covert organisation – culture, informal structure • No easy formula as to who makes the decisions but all decisions are made in the name of the Minister. • Covert organisational structure different for all Departments
Question 1: Who makes the Decisions? • The organisational iceberg • Overt organisation • Covert organisation
What do you seek? What you seek will determine whom to approach… • Funding? • Advice/suggestions? • Possible contacts? • Information? • Influencing agenda? • Influencing policy?
How do I approach a Minister or Government official?
Meeting Government Ministers or officials Tips: §“You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time. ” (John Knox) § Avoid the shotgun approach. Do not use the media to apply pressure. It rarely works! § Beforehand, identify what outcome you would like from the meeting and keep it focussed. § Keep it short. Make requests clear and concise, ambitious but realistic. § Do your homework – costs, benefits, expected results and impact § Aim to build relationships § Note: Ministers are very busy so the elevator pitch is essential. § If the official cannot help you, ask him/her to point to others who may be willing to help
How do small organisations maintain influence? “It is important to put political advisors in rooms as far away as possible from the Prime Minister. Influence diminishes with distance. ”
How do small organisations maintain influence? “Influence diminishes with distance. ” “The future is a social construct” • Build a reputation based on delivery, not promises • The wealth of networks. Who talks to whom? • Metcalf’s Law: The "value" or "power" of a network increases in proportion to the square of the number of nodes on the network. • Having a view of the future is important if one wishes to influence • Build effective coalitions through collaborating together
Influencing internationally • Finding the correct forum – EU Working Groups, Councils, EU Parliament – United Nations bodies and Summits (WSIS) – WTO • Building coalitions of support – Diplomats – Ministers – NGO’s and civil society
Ge. SCI as a case study • World Summit on Information Society • Opportunities and needs • Multi-stakeholders – governments, civil society and private sector • Building the case (Mc Kinsey analysis) • Dangers of capture (e. g. MS, Cisco, et al) • Perception as an honest broker funded by Governments • Alignment with donors’ strategies
Conclusions • Understand both the policy context and policy process • Build relationships with policy makers over time • The source of covert influence is different for every government department and agency • Influence diminishes with distance but one can use the power of networks and the power of collaboration • There are times for intervention and times for leveraging • Have a realistic yet challenging view of the future