INTRODUCTION TO PUBLIC POLICY ANALYSIS
Instructor: David D. Dill
Professor of Public Policy
207 Abernethy Hall
Teaching Assistant: Ms. Maarja Soo
COURSE WEB PAGE: www.unc.edu/courses/2005spring/plcy/071/001/
Office Hours: Tues., Thurs. -- 11:00-12:00 and by appointment
Goal of the Course
PLCY 71 is an introduction to public policy analysis. Although the term policy analysis covers a
wide range of activities and perspectives, its essence involves the development, design, and assessment of
policies, in this case, in the public sector. The goal for the course is to help you think critically about
public policy issues. The approach to the goal is somewhat indirect however. The approach involves
educating you to think, and write, like an intelligent and discerning “producer” of competent and ethically
sound policy advice for a policy-maker. The reasoning behind this approach is that because being a good
producer is somewhat harder than being a thoughtful “consumer,” by attempting the more challenging
objective you will find it easier to achieve the goal of becoming a more competent citizen. The course will
provide students with the basic knowledge necessary to analyze a wide range of policy issues. A good
policy analyst can function as a generalist; thus the emphasis will be on conducting policy analysis, rather
than on specific policy areas.
• To provide students an overview of the growing academic field of public policy analysis and
an appreciation of the role they can play in the policy process.
• To increase students’ analytical skills in: defining problems, articulating relevant decision-
making criteria, evaluating alternative policies, and assessing means of implementation.
• To develop students’ capacities for applying these techniques to substantive public policy
• To improve students’ capacities for oral and written presentation and advocacy of
Student evaluations will be based upon participation in class discussions and assignments, two
assigned policy memos, a midterm, and a final exam (weights in parentheses):
• (5%) Class participation including: assigned case discussions and submission of Preliminary
• (35%) Course Policy Memo
NOTE: THIS MEMO IS DUE IN CLASS ON THE DATE ASSIGNED. LATE MEMOS
WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED AND WILL RECEIVE O CREDIT. PLEASE PLAN YOUR
• (25%) Midterm
• (35%) Final
It shall be the responsibility of every student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to
obey and to support the enforcement of the Honor Code, which prohibits lying, cheating or stealing when
these actions involve academic processes or University, student, or academic personnel acting in an official
capacity. Each student's responsibilities in relation to the Honor Code:
• To conduct all academic work within the letter and spirit of the Honor Code which prohibits the giving
or receiving of unauthorized aid in all academic processes.
• To consult with faculty and other sources to clarify the meaning of plagiarism; to learn the recognized
techniques of proper attribution of sources used in the preparation of written work; and to identify
allowable resource materials or aids to be used during examination or in completion of any graded
• To sign a pledge on all graded academic work certifying that no unauthorized assistance has been
received or given in the completion of the work.
• To comply with faculty regulations designed to reduce the possibility of cheating - such as removing
unauthorized materials or aids from the room and protecting one's own examination paper from the
view of others.
• To maintain the confidentiality of examinations by divulging no information concerning an
examination, directly or indirectly, to another student yet to write that same examination.
• To report any instance in which reasonable grounds exist to believe that a student has given
unauthorized aid in graded work. Such report should be made to the Office of the Student Attorney
General or the Office of the Dean of Students.
• To cooperate with the Office of the Attorney General and the defense counsel in investigation and trial
of any incident of alleged violation, including the giving of testimony when called upon.
If you have any questions about your rights and responsibilities or the rights and responsibilities of
faculty members under the Honor Code, please consult the Honor Code website:
The Honor Code is, as always, in effect in this course. The following sections explain what I expect
from you in terms of meeting these standards. If you have any questions at all about these matters, please
do not hesitate to ask me.
• Pledge: The Instrument of Student Judicial Governance requires that you sign a pledge on all
written work. ("On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this
assignment."). This includes both memos and exams. The first time you hand in an assignment, I
expect you to write out the pledge in full. After that, you may simply write “Pledge” and sign your
• Exams: All in-class exams in this class are to be taken without the assistance of books, notes, or
other people. You, may, however, study with your classmates. In fact, forming study groups is an
excellent way to prepare for exams.
• Memos: In preparation for writing your memos you may discuss the assignment with your
classmates and anyone else, for that matter. The crucial thing to remember is that when you sit
down to write your memos you must do so in your own words and so confirm with the honor’s
Classroom activities provide an opportunity for community just as potentially
important, although different in form, as what happens outside the classroom walls. It is
frequently assumed that a class is merely a group of entirely private individuals having
obligations only to their teacher. If this is the assumption, students will logically
conclude that they feel free to postpone doing assignments without harming others, or
that they must do them on time only because the professor can penalize delinquency. But
if a classroom is viewed instead as a learning community, students will see doing
assignments on time as crucial to the dynamics of learning. A class reaches its lively
possibilities as a community of learning only if each member accepts its routines as a
moral obligation. Students are most likely to ask illuminating questions that benefit
everyone if they have been regular and punctual in both preparation and attendance. An
elan develops when a group pursues learning on the same schedule that seldom appears
in classes where each individual works at a self-determined speed or where many lag
behind because they sense no reason for meeting deadlines other than to avoid the
penalties imposed privately on individuals by the instructor. Taking a course is not
simply fulfilling a private contract; it is a commitment to a process of creating a
community for inquiry, receptivity, and discussion. (E. L. Long, Jr., Higher Education
as a Moral Enterprise. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1992, p. 50)
• Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice, Fourth Edition, D. L. Weimer and A. R. Vining
(hereinafter W/V). Available in the UNC Student Stores.
• Introduction to Public Policy Analysis [Coursepack], PLCY 71, Dill, Spring 2005 (hereinafter:
CP). Available in the UNC Student Stores. (There is also a packet of these readings on reserve
in the Department of City and Regional Planning Library, 211 New East, which you can take to a
copy center to make a personal copy. Spring Semester hours of the Library are:-- Monday-
Thursday: 8:00am-8:00pm; Friday: 8:00am-5:00pm, Sunday: 1:00pm-8:00pm (Closed
B. Other Assigned Materials (hereinafter: WEB: Available from the Web site for PLCY 71 at:
DATE TOPIC READINGS
1/13 Introduction to Course
1/18 What is Public Policy Analysis? W/V: Chap. 2; See Assignment for 1/18 below
1/20 The Policy Analysis Process CP: Theodoulou, “How Public Policy is Made;”
WEB: Bardach, “Policy Analysis: A Handbook for
Practice,” pp. 1-3.
1/25 Communicating Policy Analysis WEB: PRELIMINARY POLICY MEMO
ASSIGNMENT -- MEMO DUE, See Assignment
for 1/25 below
1/27 Economics and Policy Analysis I CP: Zajac, “The Concept of Economic Efficiency.”
2/1 Economics and Policy Analysis II W/V: Chap. 4 to middle of p. 57. Scan pp. 57-70 for
2/3 Defining Public Policy Problems WEB: Bardach, pp. 4-10;
CP: Patton and Sawicki, “Verifying, Defining and
Detailing the Problem.”
2/8 Collective Action Problems: TBA
Guest Lecturer: Prof. Mort Webster
2/10 Framing Policy Problems CP: Stokey and Zeckhauser, “Achieving Desirable
2/15 Market Failures I W/V: Chap. 5, pp. 71-97.
2/17 Market Failures II W/V: Chap. 5, pp. 97-112.
2/22 Government Failures W/V: Chap. 8, pp. 156-157, 179-191;
CP: Wolf, “Nonmarket Failure: The Demand and
Supply Conditions; Types. Sources, Conditions.”
2/24 NO CLASS
3/1 MIDTERM (covers material from 1/13-2/22)
3/3 Criteria For Choice WEB: Bardach, pp. 13-19;
CP: Stone, Chap. 3: “Efficiency”
3/8 Efficiency as a Criterion CP: “Graduate Student Fee Differentials in
California Public Higher Education” CASE
DISCUSSION, See Assignment for 3/8 below.
3/10 Equity as a Criterion CP: Stone, Chap. 2: “Equity”
3/15, 3/17 NO CLASS: SPRING BREAK
3/22 Defining Criteria CP: “Matters of Life and Death: Defunding Organ
Transplants in the State of Arizona” CASE
DISCUSSION, See Assignment for 3/22 below.
3/24 Policy Design and the Evaluation WEB: Bardach, pp. 10-13 and Attachment 2
3/29 Generic Policy Instruments W/V: Chap. 10
3/31 Evaluating Alternatives and WEB: Bardach, pp. 19-26
Presenting Results W/V: Chap. 11
4/5 Evaluating Alternatives: Cost CP: Boardman, Greenberg, Vining, and Weimer,
Benefit Analysis I “Introduction to Cost Benefit Analysis.”
4/7 Evaluating Alternatives: Cost CP: Herzlinger and Nitterhouse, “Techniques for
Benefit Analysis II Financial Decision-Making”
4/12 Evaluating Alternatives: Cost CP: “West Side Highway” CASE DISCUSSION,
Benefit Analysis III See Assignment for 4/12 below
4/14 Implementation I W/V: Chap. 11, pp. 261-263, 274-294
4/19 Implementation II CP: “Lead Poisoning (Revised)” CASE
DISCUSSION, See Assignment for 4/19 below
4/21 Ethical Issues in Policy Analysis I W/V: Chap. 3
4/26 Ethical Issues in Policy Analysis II Handout
4/28 Course wrap-up W/V: Chap. 19
COURSE POLICY MEMO ASSIGNMENT --
MEMO DUE, See Assignment for 4/28 below
5/3 FINAL EXAM (8:00AM)
1. Assignment for 1/18/05
Access Public Agenda at www.publicagenda.org/index.htm and browse the site. Select a policy
issue of interest to you (e.g., America’s global role, crime, education, environment, health care,
immigration, poverty and welfare, etc.) and browse the relevant section. Check out the Overview, Fact
File, and Sources and Resources for the issue of interest. Under the latter review Studies, most of which
are produced by public policy analysts in the various listed organizations.
From Public Agenda’s material:
“Public Agenda is a nonpartisan, nonprofit public opinion research and citizen education
organization based in New York City. It was founded in 1975 by social scientist and author Daniel
Yankelovich and former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance.
The … mission of Public Agenda is to:
• Help citizens better understand critical policy issues so they can make their own more informed
and thoughtful decisions….
• Drawing on its research, Public Agenda prepares a broad array of educational materials that help
explain policy issues to the public in a balanced and easy-to-understand way. Citizens can use this
information to weigh various choices and make educated decisions….
• Public Agenda maintains a nonpartisan balance in all of its work. Its materials have won praise
for their credibility and fairness from elected officials from both political parties and experts and
decision-makers across the political spectrum.”
2. Assignment for 1/25/05
Preliminary Policy Memo Due on Teen-Age Driver Auto Accident Rates (300 words). All the
information you will need to complete this memo is available on the course website under: Preliminary
3. Assignment for 3/8/05
Note that in this and all subsequent case discussions, you are not expected to submit a written
response, but to come to class prepared to actively participate in the discussion.
Read the case Graduate Student Fee Differentials in California Public Higher Education in the
Coursepack. Would you support a significantly higher fee for graduate than undergraduate students in
California's public higher education system? In preparing your position, please consider:
• Would basing tuition and fees on cost not be a more efficient way to allocate society's scarce
resources? Is this equally true for graduate and undergraduate students? Be specific where
possible using the numbers and other information in the case and exhibits.
• What are the possible arguments for justifying public subsidies for tuition?
4. Assignment for 3/22/05
Read the case Matters of Life and Death: Defunding Organ Transplants in the State of Arizona
in the Coursepack. Come to class prepared to explain whether or not you think the Arizona legislature was
right in deciding not to fund certain kinds of organ transplants under the state's health care program for the
indigent. In preparing your response, please consider:
• What principles of fairness and justice are helpful to you in deciding what is the state of Arizona’s
responsibility? Do you regard health care as a right, for example, and if so why?
• If equity is a relevant criterion how would you define equity in this case?
5. Assignment for 4/12/05
Read the case West Side Highway in the Coursepack. Come to class prepared to discuss:
• What categories of costs and benefits should be considered in deciding whether or not to build the
West Side Highway?
• Are all the relevant costs and benefits listed (see case Exhibit 3).
• Do any omissions of appropriate benefits or costs, or inclusions of inappropriate ones, bias the
6. Assignment for 4/19/05
Read the case Lead Poisoning (Revised) in the Coursepack. Come to class prepared to discuss:
• What individuals or organizations are impeding effective implementation of the policy? Why do
you think they are doing so? Are there other factors impeding effective implementation of the
• What specific actions did Gordon Chase take to increase the possibility of effective
implementation of the policy?
7. Assignment for 4/28/05: Course Policy Memo
Note that this memo is to be written using the information from the web-based case North
Carolina Industrial Policy available under Course Policy Memo on the course web site.
It is 1996 and you are now a public policy intern with Governor James B. Hunt of North Carolina
(apparently he was impressed by your work with Secretary West!). Governor Hunt has asked for you to
write a policy analysis on Industrial Policy for North Carolina. Begin the case by reading the section called
“Background” [CASE HOME]. This will provide you both a context for the case and a guide as to the
Web-based resources in the case. The specific requirements for the Course Policy Analysis Memo are
outlined in the section titled “Your Task” that follows the “Background” section.
Similar to doing a search on the Internet, you will discover that there is a wealth of information
available through this web-based case. Therefore, leave yourself sufficient time to study these materials as
well as to draft, edit, and refine your policy analysis. The Menu Boxes listed as GUIDE,
ROUNDTABLE, and BRIEFINGS will likely be most useful. The section termed GUIDE provides an
index of all relevant materials. The information available through this web-based case concerning
industrial policy and North Carolina should provide you with sufficient information to complete an
effective policy analysis memo.