Policy Capacity Is Necessary but Not Sufficient; Comment on “Health Reform Requires Policy Capacity”

Document Type: Commentary

Authors

1 School of Public Affairs & Civic Engagement, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, USA

2 School of Health and Society, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Abstract

Policy capacity focuses on the managerial and organizational abilities to inform policy decisions with sound research and analysis, and facilitate policy implementation with operational efficiency. It stems from a view of the policy process that is rational and positivistic, in which optimal policy choices can be identified, selected, and implemented with objectivity. By itself, however, policy capacity neglects the political aspects of policy-making that can dominate the process, even in health policies. These technical capabilities are certainly needed to advance reforms in health policies, but they are not sufficient. Instead, they must be complemented with public engagement and policy advocacy to ensure support from the public that policies are meant to serve.

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