Evolution of policy labs and use of design for policy in UK government
Taylor & Francis
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At the intersection between theory and practice on “design” and “policy,” there is small but expanding knowledge base on the concept of “design for policy.” Government interest in design methods for policy-making has grown significantly since the late 1990s, particularly within policy labs. Policy labs are multidisciplinary government teams experimenting with a range of innovation methods, including design, to involve citizens in public policy development. There are more than 100 labs across the globe and around 14 at national and regional levels in the UK. While new policy labs continue to pop up, some are changing and some are closing their doors. How have the operating models of policy labs evolved? How might we enhance the resilience of labs? These are some of the questions explored in a 2-year Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellowship called People Powering Policy. The research draws on insight from established Labs including Policy Lab in the Cabinet Office, HMRC Policy Lab and the Northern Ireland Innovation Lab as well as emerging labs to address the research question: how might policy labs be developed, reviewed and evaluated? Based on interviews, workshops and immersive residencies the main outputs were a Typology of Policy Lab Financing Models and a Lab Proposition Framework for establishing, reviewing and evaluating policy labs. The typology outlines four models for UK labs financing models – Sponsorship (funding from one or multiple departments), Contribution (labs recover part of the costs of projects), Cost Recovery (labs charge for projects on a not-for-profit basis), Hybrid (labs benefit from multiple income sources such as Sponsorship, charging and knowledge exchange funding) and Consultancy (labs charge a consultancy rate with a profit margin to expand operations). The Lab Proposition Framework comprises of four components (1) Proposition – the vision, governance and finance models; (2) Product – the offering, user needs and tools; (3) People – the people skills, knowledge diffusion and wider capacity building; (4) Process – the routes to engagement, user journey and promotion mechanism
Policy Design and Practice;
Whicher, A. (2021) 'Evolution of policy labs and use of design for policy in UK government', Policy Design and Practice, pp.1-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/25741292.2021.1883834
Article published in Policy Design and Practice available open access at https://doi.org/10.1080/25741292.2021.1883834
Cardiff Metropolitan University (Grant ID: Cardiff Metropolian (Internal))
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