Evidence-based policymaking: what works?

In order for the counter-corruption policies to be effective, ongoing assessment should be undertaken to evaluate and consider whether reforms are needed. An outcome-oriented performance evaluation is a helpful measure that is proposed here to assess the efficacy of the implemented policies. In this context, evidence-based policymaking involves:

first, evidence of the likely effectiveness of policy options to inform decisions on what policy action to take; and, second, evidence from evaluations of policies as implemented to inform decisions on whether to continue or how to adjust and improve policies and to contribute to the evidence base to inform future consideration of policy options.

Evidence-based policymaking has been associated with the increasing interest among the public sector in effectiveness and is concerned with the search for usable and relevant information that is helpful for policy development, evaluation, and improvement. In the United Kingdom, for example, the ‘What Works Network’ was launched ‘to improve the way government and other organisations create, share and use (or “generate, transmit and adopt”) high quality evidence for decision-making’ to promote more effective public policy in different arenas. Of particular significance is the ‘What Works Centre for Crime Reduction’. The policymakers should adopt evidence-based practice to assess whether the implementation of countercorruption efforts achieves their objectives and determine whether legal powers really work in practice. The UN Anti-Corruption Toolkit provides tools to undertake this evaluation and help policymakers answer questions related to what reforms are needed, what the focus should be on, and what has been gained from the actions taken.

Do the Kuwaiti counter-corruption laws bring the intended effects in practice? NGO-1 commented that the effectiveness of counter-corruption measures cannot be randomly determined. He/shc suggested that there is a group of measures that should first be taken in order to assess the effectiveness of the current counter-corruption laws: there should be evaluative and follow-up studies

that underline the points of weakness and the strengths.[1] But evaluating the quality of the existing laws is challenging given the lack of performance evaluation. The public authorities in Kuwait do not resort to techniques like selfreflection to evaluate whether the laws bring their intended effect. Using research in policymaking faces some challenges in Kuwait, one of which is the under-funding of research. An evidence-based policymaking is lacking, although the Supreme Council for Planning and Development enables the government to adopt appropriate measures to ensure effective follow-up of the policies adopted and their implementation. As one interviewee put forward, there is a lack of serious steps to evaluate the laws. Nevertheless, the burgeoning NGOs in Kuwait often play a crucial role in decentralising the policymaking process. For example, from 2008 to 2014, the KTS developed the ‘Reform Perception Index’ to measure the level of transparency, accountability and respect for law, justice and equal opportunities, as well as the effectiveness and leadership in the public sector.

There are, however, some means through which counter-corruption policies may be subject to evaluation. The court judgments and the investigations of public prosecutors are one of the sources for assessing the effectiveness of laws. Also, the peer-review process to monitor the implementation of UNCAC is an appropriate tool to review the Kuwaiti counter-corruption laws and their compliance with the UNCAC. These examples of outcome-oriented evaluations could, potentially, evaluate the effectiveness of the counter-corruption policies. Moreover, within the remit of the Nazaha are the periodic evaluation of countercorruption laws and the legal powers related to combating the corruption process, proposing the reforms needed to comply with the international conventions ratified by Kuwait, and rectifying and improving the counter-corruption enforcement and prevention measures.

In 2019, the policymakers in Kuwait started to incorporate evidence-based policymaking into their agenda. The Strategy 2019-2024 included a chapter related to the follow-up and evaluation of counter-corruption policies. The Strategy explicitly recognises that the effectiveness of the policies largely relies on whether they bring about their intended effects in practice. It realises the importance of the ongoing follow-up of the policies and observing their progress. To that end,

the Strategy involves gathering information annually about the implemented laws and policies from the law enforcement authorities and analysing the information with the stakeholders so that the policymakers can rectify any deficiencies.[2] To secure the implementation of the Strategy’s objectives, the ‘Supreme Committee’ for the implementation of the Strategy 2019-2024 has been established within Nazaha. Furthermore, a number of ad hoc sub-committees have been formed and associated to the Supreme Committee to help it perform its mission. Thus, the advent of evidence-based policymaking in the Kuwait Strategy will make a difference. The extent of this difference, however, is yet to be determined.

  • [1] NGO-1. 2 See Khodr (2014). 3 See . 4 NGO-1. 5 Khodr (2014). 6 See . 9 ACAA, s.5(7).
  • [2] Nazaha (2019, p. 28). 2 Ibid., p. 29. 3 See Rose-Ackerman (1999). 4 See Everett, Neu and Rahaman (2006, pp. 5-6). 5 Nazaha (2019, p. 16).
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