Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-544b6db54f-rcd7l Total loading time: 0.277 Render date: 2021-10-24T16:57:01.133Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Mea Culpa? The Role of Data Collection in Public Officials Acknowledging Policy Failure

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 March 2021

Sarah James*
Affiliation:
Government and Social Policy Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
*
Corresponding Author: Sarah James, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA. Email: sarahjames@g.harvard.edu

Abstract

State governments, often described as “laboratories of democracy,” design and implement many public policies, but this moniker also implies course correction when initial efforts fail. But how do states learn from failure? Existing hypotheses about policy learning and broad research capacity are insufficient. Using case studies of failed juvenile justice policies in Texas and Washington, I explore when failure acknowledgment occurs at all. I argue that a state’s bureaucratic capacity to gather data—distinct from its analytical capacity—is necessary for public officials to acknowledge failure, highlighting the impact of policy and institutional design on evidence-based policy making and policy corrections.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The American Political Science Association

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Aos, Steve. 2002. Keeping Kids in School: The Impact of the Truancy Provisions in Washington’s 1995 ‘Becca’s Bill.’ Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy. http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/ReportFile/809/Wsipp_Keeping-Kids-in-School-The-Impact-of-the-Truancy-Provisions-in-Washingtons-1995-Becca-Bill_Executive-Summary.pdf.Google Scholar
Bachrach, Peter, and Baratz, Morton S.. 1962. “Two Faces of Power.” The American Political Science Review 56 (4): 947–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bardach, Eugene. 1976. “Policy Termination as a Political Process.” Policy Sciences 7 (2): 123–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Becca’s Bill. 1995. Chapter 312, Laws of 1995.Google Scholar
Bennett, Colin J., and Howlett, Michael. 1992. “The Lessons of Learning: Reconciling Theories of Policy Learning and Policy Change.” Policy Sciences 25 (3): 275–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bissell, Joan S. 1979. “Use of Educational Evaluation and Policy Studies by the California Legislature.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 1 (3): 2937. doi:10.2307/1164154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blank, Joshua M., and Shaw, Daron. 2015. “Does Partisanship Shape Attitudes toward Science and Public Policy? The Case for Ideology and Religion.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 658: 1835.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boswell, Christina. 2009. The Political Uses of Expert Knowledge: Immigration Policy and Social Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511581120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brambor, Thomas, Goenaga, Agustín, Lindvall, Johannes, and Teorell, Jan. 2020. “The Lay of the Land: Information Capacity and the Modern State.” Comparative Political Studies 53 (2): 175213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Burley, Mason, and Harding, Edie. 1998. Truant Students: Evaluating the Impact of the ‘Becca Bill’ Truancy Petition Requirements. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy. http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/ReportFile/1271/Wsipp_Truant-Students-Evaluating-the-Impact-of-the-Becca-Bill-Truancy-Petition-Requirements_Full-Report.pdf.Google Scholar
California Courts and Use of Legislative Intent Materials. 2019. The National Law Review X (261).Google Scholar
Calvert, Randall L., and Fenno, Richard F.. 1994. “Strategy and Sophisticated Voting in the Senate.” The Journal of Politics 56 (2): 349–76. doi:10.2307/2132143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carmichael, Dottie, Marchbanks, Minor P. III, Booth, Eric, Fabelo, Tony, Thompson, Michael D., and Platkin, Martha. 2011. Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement. New York: Justice Center at the Council for State Governments & Texas Public Policy Research Institute.Google Scholar
Carpenter, Daniel P. 2001. The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy: Reputations, Networks, and Policy Innovation in Executive Agencies, 1862–1928. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Coburn, Cynthia E., and Penuel, William R.. 2016. “Research–Practice Partnerships in Education: Outcomes, Dynamics, and Open Questions.” Educational Researcher 45 (1): 4854. doi:10.3102/0013189X16631750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dagan, David, and Teles, Steven M.. 2015. “The Social Construction of Policy Feedback: Incarceration, Conservatism, and Ideological Change.” Studies in American Political Development 29 (2): 127–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Defoe, Ivy N., Dubas, Judith Semon, Figner, Bernd, and Marcel, A. G. van Aken. 2015. “A Meta-Analysis on Age Differences in Risky Decision Making: Adolescents versus Children and Adults.” Psychological Bulletin 141 (1): 4884.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dobbin, Frank, Simmons, Beth, and Garrett, Geoffrey. 2007. “The Global Diffusion of Public Policies: Social Construction, Coercion, Competition, or Learning?Annual Review of Sociology 33 (1): 449–72. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.33.090106.142507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Erikson, Robert S., Wright, Gerald C., Wright, Gerald C., and McIver, John P.. 1993. Statehouse Democracy: Public Opinion and Policy in the American States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Fowler, Deborah, Mergler, Mary Schmid, Johnson, Kelli, and Craven, Morgan. 2015. “Class Not Court: Reconsidering Texas’ Criminalization of Truancy.” Texas Appleseed.Google Scholar
Gamble, Vanessa Northington, and Stone, Deborah. 2006. “US Policy on Health Inequities: The Interplay of Politics and Research.” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 31 (1): 93126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gilardi, Fabrizio. 2010. “Who Learns from What in Policy Diffusion Processes?American Journal of Political Science 54 (3): 650–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Green, Allan. 1984. “The Role of Evaluation in Legislative Decision Making.” Public Administration Review 44 (3): 265–67. doi:10.2307/975492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Halpern-Felsher, Bonnie L., and Cauffman, Elizabeth. 2001. “Costs and Benefits of a Decision: Decision-Making Competence in Adolescents and Adults.” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 22 (3): 257–73. doi:10.1016/S0193-3973(01)00083-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Heclo, Hugh. 1974. Social Policy in Britain and Sweden. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Heintz, H. Theodore, and Jenkins-Smith, Hank C.. 1988. “Advocacy Coalitions and the Practice of Policy Analysis.” Policy Sciences 21 (2): 263–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Israel, Barbara A., Schulz, Amy J., Parker, Edith A., and Becker, Adam B.. 1998. “Review of Community-Based Research: Assessing Partnership Approaches to Improve Public Health.” Annual Review of Public Health 19 (1): 173202.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
James, Sarah. 2021. “Replication Data for: Mea Culpa: The Role of Data Collection in Public Officials Acknowledging Policy Failure.” UNC Dataverse. Dataset. https://doi.org/10.1017/spq.2021.11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jefferson, Wallace. 2012. “Recognizing and Combating the ‘School-to-Prison’ Pipeline in Texas.” Future Trends in State Courts 2012. Accessed August 2018. https://ncsc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/famct/id/865/.Google Scholar
Karch, Andrew. 2007. “Emerging Issues and Future Directions in State Policy Diffusion Research.” State Politics & Policy Quarterly 7 (1): 5480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kilma, Tali, Miller, Marna, and Nunlist, Corey. 2009. What Works? Targeted Truancy and Dropout Programs in Middle and High School. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.Google Scholar
McCluskey, Cynthia Perez, Bynum, Timothy S., and Patchin, Justin W.. 2004. “Reducing Chronic Absenteeism an Assessment of an Early Truancy Initiative.” Crime & Delinquency 50 (2): 214–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Miller, Marna, Kilma, Tali, and Nunlist, Corey. 2010. Washington’s Truancy Laws: Does the Petition Process Influence School and Crime Outcomes. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.Google Scholar
Patashnik, Eric M. 2008. Reforms at Risk: What Happens after Major Policy Changes Are Enacted. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Public Testimony on HB 5651 and HB 5745. 2015. Washington State Legislature, Olympia, WA.Google Scholar
Reckhow, Sarah, Galey, Sarah, and Tompkins-Stange, Megan. 2018. “Research for Policy’s Sake: The Enlightenment Function of Social Research.” Working Paper presented at the Association for Education Finance and Policy. Portland, OR.Google Scholar
Sanderson, Ian. 2002. “Evaluation, Policy Learning and Evidence-Based Policy Making.” Public Administration 80 (1): 122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Santos, Melissa. 2015. “Washington No.1 for Jailing Noncriminal Kids, Spurred by Law Named for Tacoma Runaway.” The Olympian, July 12, 2015. Accessed August 2018. http://www.theolympian.com/news/politics-government/article27020662.html.Google Scholar
Schattschneider, Elmer. 1975. The Semi-Sovereign People: A Realist’s View of Democracy in America. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.Google Scholar
Smith, Katherine E. 2013. “The Politics of Ideas: The Complex Interplay of Health Inequalities Research and Policy.” Science and Public Policy 41 (5): 561–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Suhay, Elizabeth, and Druckman, James N.. 2015. “The Politics of Science: Political Values and the Production, Communication, and Reception of Scientific Knowledge.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 658: 618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Teasley, Martell L. 2004. “Absenteeism and Truancy: Risk, Protection, and Best Practice Implications for School Social Workers.” Children & Schools 26 (2): 117–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Volden, Craig. 2016. “Failures: Diffusion, Learning, and Policy Abandonment.” State Politics & Policy Quarterly 16 (1): 4477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Walker, J. 1969. “The Diffusion of Innovations among the American States.” American Political Science Review 63: 880–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Walsh, James I. 2000. “When Do Ideas Matter? Explaining the Successes and Failures of Thatcherite Ideas.” Comparative Political Studies 33 (4): 483516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Webster, Carol. 1996. Truancy: Preliminary Findings on Washington’s 1995 Truancy Law. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy. http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/ReportFile/1217/Wsipp_TRUANCY-Preliminary-Findings-on-Washingtons-1995-Law_Full-Report.pdf.Google Scholar
1
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Mea Culpa? The Role of Data Collection in Public Officials Acknowledging Policy Failure
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Mea Culpa? The Role of Data Collection in Public Officials Acknowledging Policy Failure
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Mea Culpa? The Role of Data Collection in Public Officials Acknowledging Policy Failure
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *