By: Eric M. Patashnik; Justin Peck


the article looks at the popular perception that Congress does not seem to do policy analysis with the rigor that it requires. It suggests that the perception is misplaced and that the Congress does do analysis but that it does so using criteria that may be different from those used by analysts.

The authors state that policy analysis is also a “social and political activity” whose purpose is to provide targeted advice to particular organizational clients, which invariably have projects and agendas. Also that policy analysis is a complex, iterative process comprised of  multiple steps or tasks, and that no extant study analyzes congressional performance at the task level.

The study is based upon findings from three different sources of information to understand the policy analysis process of Congress. The most extensive data source is a survey of more than 150 Washington area policy analysis professionals who work for universities, think tanks and research organizations, and government agencies. The second source is a confidential focus group with six senior policy analysts and the third is from existing literature on the topic.

Based on these, the article defines policy analysis from the perspective of the Congress. It also analyzes the role and how well the congress plays it for each task of policy analysis viz: (1) defining problems, (2) assembling evidence, (3) constructing alternatives, (4) selecting criteria, (5) projecting outcomes, (6) confronting trade-offs, (7) making decisions, and (8) telling causal stories to an audience. They also identify the criteria that congress uses to analyze decisions. The authors arrive further at the conclusion that the congress has adequate support structures for supplying it with technocratic analysis of policy inputs. With an improvement in legislative procedures, the congress is well equipped to utilize those inputs suitably.


Perhaps the biggest challenge that Water Policy faces is the political challenge of handling the multiple constituencies that have a stake in water. Understanding the decision making processes of political institutions is very important - especially in a democracy ( Please also refer to network article 1 and article 2)  . Hence this paper has a direct relevance to Water Policy making, 


- Evaluating the roles played by congress for Water Policy legislation for different sectors i.e legislation for agriculture sector, industrial sector and domestic sector.

- Evaluating whether there is a change in the relative strength of the criteria used by the congress to analyze policy when the policy being considered is Water Policy.

- Political perception of Water Use Embedding as a potential policy tool for water management.