Federal science funding in the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: an assessment of two policy process frameworks

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Hutto, Tamara E.
Walsh, John P.
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In order to understand how policies are made, analysts need to be able to explain and describe the policy making process. This is a complex task due to the variety and complexity of policy making environments. The difficulty lies in accounting for the multiple actors who come and go, differing preferences, and impending problems and solutions sets which vary by policy environment. Therefore, there is a need to approach the understanding of policy processes from several different theoretical perspectives to aid in evaluating the multifaceted variations which ultimately affect policy making. An improved description of processes can lead to more accurate predictions of possible future policies, improved advocacy efforts, and enhanced problem solving. Two policy process frameworks, the Multiple Stream Framework (MSF) and the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework, were applied to a recent significant change in science policy. An understanding is developed to explain how federal science funding survived within the highly controversial and costly American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The volatile and unpredictable nature of science policy lends itself well to the MSF, while the more static IAD is less useful to explain how and why the funds stayed in the bill. This is telling about the scope and adaptability of the two frameworks, where each may be better suited for different policy environments. The MSF being more appropriate for unstable and capricious policy issues and the IAD better matched for policy issues which have a somewhat more stable environment.
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