The Public Policy Forecasting special interest group (publicpolicyforecasting.com) has been established to provide a platform for the rational analysis of governments' policies.
Forecasting is more important for the public sector than for the private sector because public policy involves coercion, can result in large changes, and is not guided by prices. The injunction to "first, do no harm" is therefore appropriate for public policy decision making. Scientific forecasting can help decision makers to choose the best policies.
The publicpolicyforecasting.com pages will include evidence-based assessments of the forecasting procedures behind major policy initiatives such as occur when policies change in areas such as gun control, capital punishment, climate change, immigration, public construction projects, and minimum wage laws. The primary means of analysis will be forecasting audits.
Audits are sought by those who prepare forecasts relevant to policy changes. In addition, audits are invited by people other than those involved with the forecast.
Audits completed to date
- Global warming: Green & Armstrong (Energy & Environment 2007)
- Polar bear populations: Armstrong, Green & Soon (Interfaces 2008)
- City of Tampa development forecasting: Amar, Hsu, & Shiah (Wharton student report 2010)
The Forecasting Problem
To determine the best policies to implement now to deal with the social or physical environment of the future, a policy maker should obtain forecasts and prediction intervals for each of the following:
- What will the physical or social environment of interest be like in the future in the absence of any policy change?
- If reliable forecasts of can be obtained and the forecasts are for substantive changes, then it would be necessary to forecast the effects of the changes on the health of living things and on the health and wealth of humans.
- If reliable forecasts of the effects of changed future environment on the health of living things and on the health and wealth of humans can be obtained and the forecasts are for substantial harmful effects, then it would be necessary to forecast the costs and benefits of alternative policy proposals. For a proper assessment, costs and benefits must be comprehensive.
- If reliable forecasts of the costs and benefits of alternative policy proposals can be obtained and at least one proposal is predicted to lead to net benefits, then it would be necessary to forecast whether the policy changes can be implemented successfully.
The guidelines for the SIG are the same as those that apply to the forecastingprinciples.com site as a whole. In addition, all posted peer review must include the authors' names, position, email, and any relationship that might be construed as being of potential bias.