Martin has posted a link below to a very interesting lecture on Research and Policy Making given by Frances Ruane, director of the ESRI. The following observation I found striking:
"Getting something into the ‘programme for government’ in effect ensures that a policy is likely to be adopted, but perhaps just as importantly, has the effect of terminating any substantive debate subsequently on the issue. From what I can see, this is what happened to the De Buitléir Report on student grants mentioned earlier: there was a commitment to increasing access to higher education in the 1993 programme (which led to the report being commissioned) but in the negotiations of the 1995 programme that shifted to a commitment to ‘free fees’. This decision ran counter to the report’s evidence that this approach would not be the most cost effective or fair way of improving access, and consequently the report was kept out of the public domain until after the decision was made. What can we learn from this? Unless research is publicly available to inform the ‘programme for government’ process, its potential influence may be quite limited; even when it is available, it may be ignored."