Non-Partisan Research

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Within the U.S. government, there is an agency called the Congressional Research Service.  As part of the Library of Congress, the CRS works exclusively for the United States Congress.  They provide policy and legal analysis of proposed bills, existing situations, just about anything that someone in Congress needs information about.  They are considered to be accurate and objective in their reporting and provide members of Congress with excellent research in order to better inform the politicians.

The interest in “establishing a legislative reference service, which was mirrored in many state legislatures, reflected an emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge for an informed and independent legislature“. An informed legislature.  That is, in many respects, what our current government is trying to do and what ministries are trying to do and what branches are trying to do:  get better data to be better informed.  The idea that you need better data to make better decisions is reflected in the GBA+ training that is being rolled out.  Getting better informed about the impacts of decisions allows everyone to make better decisions.

Who did you talk to?  What information did you gather?  How does this information impact your policy?

These are all important questions.  So why is it in IT we are afraid to do that?  Why is it that we come up with ideas, bypass any sort of vetting process until after it has been approved, and then try to make things fit?

For instance, let’s say I were to approach my CIO, extolling the virtues of open source development and I got her to agree that we should use open source for everything. Would that be a good idea?  Maybe, but don’t you think I should have actually talked to the people affected before getting my CIO to agree to it?  Get other people, knowledgeable about the subject, to comment on the merits of the proposal?  I think it would be a good idea, but there are many things in IT we do because someone got someone to agree to it before getting some objective viewpoints on the subject.

Wouldn’t it be cool to have something like the CRS to review ideas and let you know the impact?  Let you know what’s going to work and what’s not going to work?  We have groups like that – Forrester for one – but we rarely use them or, as is more commonly the case, we use them incorrectly.  instead of supplying all the facts we provide only the facts that bolster our proposed solution.  We all do it.  Heck, I do it every time I make a proposal in these notes.  You don’t think that the world agrees with all of my ideas, do you?  But by selecting choosing which links to add in, which sources to quote, I can make it seem like every idea is a winner.

But I’m pretty sure this idea, a non-partisan research service, would be a boon to any organization.

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