Smart Policy Design and Implementation - Policy Dialogue in Pakistan

Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard Kennedy School, in collaboration with the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP) and the National School of Public Policy (NSPP), organized the 6th Policy Dialogue under Harvard’s Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (BCURE) Program. Held on August 2nd, 5th, and 9th in Lahore, Pakistan, the dialogue focused on the learning and practical application of the Smart Policy Design and Implementation (SPDI) Framework. The event, targeted at senior civil servants from NSPP’s 105th National Management Course (NMC), helped to build synergies between EPoD’s training and policy dialogue activities.

The dialogue was aimed at providing participants with a framework with which to formulate effective solutions to daunting policy challenges, incorporating data and research evidence at every step of the process.

On the first day of the dialogue, EPoD Co-Director Professor Asim Khwaja set the stage by highlighting the value of policy-researcher engagements through a structured approach of applying rigorous data and evidence through each stage of the policymaking process, known as Smart Policy Design and Implementation (SPDI) Framework Following Professor Khwaja’s introduction to SPDI, participants from the 105th NMC cohort submitted proposals for real-life policy problems to which they could apply SPDI principles. Research teams from EPoD and CERP then selected certain submissions for participants to focus on, sorting individuals into teams to maximize synergies among them. The second day focused on smaller, sector-specific intensive engagements among these pre-selected groups, facilitated by research teams from EPoD and CERP. Participants worked in small groups to apply the SPDI framework to the pre-selected policy problems, aiming to design real policy interventions that could lead to future researcher-policymaker engagements. Topics selected for workshopping included:

  • Improving HR performance and motivation through monitoring and incentives
  • Broadening the tax base
  • Improving revenue generation and performance in railways
  • Addressing underperformance among civil servants.

Each group formulated a specific policy proposal, and on the third and final day presented their proposals to the broader NMC cohort, and faculty and administration of NSPP. Researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science and Pomona College provided detailed feedback and comments on the nature of interventions proposed. Participants were enthusiastic about using the SPDI framework, and some of the sub-groups formed plans for the development of joint programs within their departments aimed at forging long-term policy partnerships for evidence-informed policymaking.