Career in Public Policy

Session Report
Rehmat Arora

Introduction

On the last day of the Fundamentals of Public Policy course held by the Impact and Policy
Research Institute, Mr. Yash Agarwal provided insight into Careers in Public Policy.

To begin, public policy can be broadly defined as the art and science of a public agency solving
public problems using public money through public solutions. It encompasses all government
concerns, whether directly regulated or affected by economic factors. For instance, repairing a
broken road is a public issue since it impacts society at large, whereas a private theft is not.
Understanding this distinction is crucial as it underpins the very nature of public policy work,
which is inherently aimed at benefiting the broader community.

Policy-making Process


The policy-making process can be summarized in five key stages, captured by the acronym
IDEME: Ideation, Design, Implementation, Monitoring, and Evaluation. These stages are
fundamental in any public policy initiative, regardless of the country or context.

First, Ideation involves identifying a public problem. This can happen through various sources,
such as media reports, citizen feedback, or studies conducted by think tanks. Once a problem is
identified, the next stage is Design, where policies are formulated to address these issues. This
stage involves significant research, expert consultations, and drafting policy frameworks that are feasible and effective.

The third stage is Implementation, where the policy is executed using public resources. This
often involves contracting out tasks through competitive bidding processes to ensure efficiency
and cost-effectiveness. Following implementation, the Monitoring stage ensures that the
execution aligns with the policy objectives. This includes maintaining quality standards, legal
compliance, and assessing the ongoing impact of the policy.

Finally, Evaluation involves assessing the overall effectiveness of the policy after a certain
period. This stage is critical as it provides insights into what worked well and what didn’t,
allowing for adjustments and improvements in future policies. By continuously evaluating and
learning from past initiatives, public agencies can enhance their policy-making processes and
outcomes.

Careers in Public Policy


Careers in public policy are diverse and can be categorized based on three dimensions:
Spaces, Functions, and Verticals. These categories help to understand the various roles and
opportunities available in the field.


Spaces refer to the different environments where individuals can work within public policy. For instance, the Research Space includes think tanks, universities, and academia, which focus on policy research and design. Another important area is the Public Sector, where individuals can work with government bodies like NITI Aayog, state administrations, or through various
fellowships. Additionally, there is the Legislative Space, involving work with parliaments or state assemblies on policy development and legislative support.

In the Private Sector, corporations and consultancies such as KPMG, Deloitte, and BCG have
public policy teams that contribute to shaping policy from a business perspective. Policy
Advocacy involves organizations engaged in lobbying and advocating for policy changes, while
Political Consulting firms like I-PAC support political strategies and campaigns. The Social
Impact Space encompasses NGOs and non-profits that work on policy implementation at the
grassroots level. Finally, Multilateral Organizations such as the World Bank, UN agencies, and
ADB focus on global policy issues.

Verticals refer to the specific focus areas within public policy, such as healthcare, education,
environment, gender issues, and urban management. It is generally advisable for individuals to try out different verticals early in their careers to gain a broad understanding before specializing in one area.

Functions represent the roles and responsibilities within policy organizations. These can vary
widely, from Outreach and Communication, which involves managing stakeholder engagement
and public relations, to Program Management, which oversees the execution of policy initiatives. Research and Analysis roles involve conducting data-driven studies to inform policy decisions, while Legal and Compliance ensures that policies adhere to legal standards and regulatory requirements. Partnerships focus on building collaborations between various stakeholders to support policy goals.

Understanding the framework and opportunities in public policy helps in planning a career in this field. By identifying the space, vertical, and function that align with their interests and skills, individuals can better navigate and succeed in the public policy domain. Each of these dimensions offers unique challenges and rewards, making public policy a dynamic and impactful career choice.

Conclusion

In conclusion, public policy is a multifaceted field that requires a blend of research, strategic
planning, and practical implementation skills. Whether individuals are interested in working
within governmental bodies, research institutions, or non-profits, there are numerous pathways to make a significant impact.


Acknowledgment: Written by Rehmat Arora, Visiting Researcher and assistant editor at IMPRI.

Posted by Reetwika Mallick, intern at IMPRI.

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