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Constraints on evidence-based policy: insights from government practices

Constraints on evidence-based policy: insights from government practices

Simmons, Richard (2015) Constraints on evidence-based policy: insights from government practices. Building Research & Information, 43 (4). pp. 407-419. ISSN 0961-3218 (Print), 1466-4321 (Online) (doi:

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Insights are offered into UK government built environment policy-making processes through an insider's perspective (based on experience of being the chief executive of a public body, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment – CABE) on three empirical examples. The government's mandate was for policies to be evidence based. There was no shortage of demand for evidence, but it was fed into political and bureaucratic domains where less- or non-evidence-based influences were also at work. The questions considered are how much the evidence really influenced the content of policy; and whether making a policy ‘evidence based' led to its acceptance across government, causing departments to commit to its delivery. It is found that evidence (1) is powerful for defining issues to which policy should attend, (2) captures the attention of policy and decision-makers, but only if presented succinctly, and (3) is essential for testing outcomes. Supposedly evidence-based policy is not always truly evidence based. Many subjective forces counterbalance objectivity. The most significant reasons for this are mooted. Advice is offered on how to make evidence a more effective part of a process that will always be partly technical and objective, but also political and subjective.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: built environment, evidence-based policy, governance, outcomes, policy formation, public policy
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:31

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