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Public Information As discussed by Janet A Weiss.

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Presentation on theme: "Public Information As discussed by Janet A Weiss."— Presentation transcript:

1 Public Information As discussed by Janet A Weiss

2 Background On Dr. Weiss Professor of Organizational Behavior and Public Policy at Univ. of Michigan Widely published in academic journals on role of information in the policy process Earned Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard

3 NHTSA: Click It or Ticket!!

4 Defining the Tool Influence people’s thoughts, knowledge, and behaviors Public Information may be : –distributed by the government –collected by the government

5 Assumptions People are rational People will adjust their behavior based on new information Information will reach the targeted audience The information will be understood

6 Dimensions of Public Information Directness: info is very versatile -may be direct or indirect -hurricane evacuation or financial disclosure statement Automaticity: uses channels created for purposes (print, broadcast media,web) -seldom automatic, used to counteract info from other sources

7 Dimensions continued Visibility: seldom require large amounts of money but are highly visible by public Coerciveness: mixed feelings -govt dissemination of info seen as non-coercive -govt collection of info may be viewed as highly restrictive to some

8 Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Identifies three categories of federal govt information interventions 1) Counseling or advisory services 2) Dissemination of technical info 3) Training According to CFDA, US govt has spent 5 billion – 7 billion per year on information between 1979 and 1999

9 Samples of US policy Truth in Lending Environmental Impact Statements Hazardous Material Disclosure (OSHA) Tobacco Warning Labels Nutrition/Food Lables (FDA) Freedom of Information Act

10 Policy Implementation Define target audience Decide what info will be useful Obtain the information Deliver the information Mobilize social and institutional factors to reinforce desired behavior

11 When to use public information as a governmental tool Problem is caused by information asymmetry Targets of the policy are broadly dispersed Voluntary compliance is expected Broad agreement on desired outcome Target behavior is outside realm of governmental action (vices, habits, exercise, food consumption)

12 Public Information may be ineffective when: Uniform compliance with the policy is desired Problem is caused by lack of resources No information is available regarding the problem (conflict of values or ideology)

13 Political Challenges May be used for the appearance of action without actually delivering results May be cheapest alternative May be designed to “blame the victim” May not be completely honest or forthright

14 Evaluating Public Information as a Governmental Tool Effectiveness: 1) Organizational Reporting-generating specific info within an organization and reporting it to an outside audience -use of reports by external actors not important -organization will use own report to internally improve agency (avoid criticism or controversy)

15 Evaluating Public Information as a Governmental Tool Effectiveness continued: 2) Public Information Campaigns- attempt to change what people think in order to change a specific behavior -difficult to measure effectiveness (was message received, received by target audience, message understood, was action taken as a result?)

16 Evaluating Public Information as a Governmental Tool 3) Labeling- designed to promote informed choices under some consideration of the risk involved (health and safety) -research reveals a well-designed warning or label does seem to be effective in reducing risk taking and increase safe behavior

17 Evaluating Public Information as a Governmental Tool Equity: -may increase inequality between those with access to information and those without -offers an opportunity to lessen this gap Efficiency: -low cost of policy assumes efficiency -efficiency not adequately analyzed in literature. More research required

18 Evaluating Public Information as a Governmental Tool Legitimacy: -area of high debate -information and a well informed public is the heart of a democracy -”tutelary power” of majoritarian government will undermine freedom (Alexis de Tocqueville)

19 Future Impacts/Conclusions Best used in combination with other policy tools Focus should be placed on training Increased access to information through technology will revolutionize government

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