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Public Policy Design Special Interest Group


To advance interest in, and the use of, O.R. in improving public policy design at local, regional, national and international levels.


The SIG furthers the society’s charitable objectives by bringing together a wide range of interested parties to cross-fertilise ideas and develop initiatives. Membership is open to individuals and, in order to cultivate an appropriate spread of representation, is encouraged from interested representatives from the following communities:

  • O.R. practitioners from GORS and Dstl supporting UK central government;
  • OR Society members supporting local and regional government;
  • researchers and teachers in academia;
  • other professions that are active in supporting public policy, including designers, social and political scientists;
  • those charged with developing public policy;
  • those with parallel interests in other European countries and other continents.

The SIG’s initiatives are agreed by the committee, and include training events, planning workshops etc., which are aimed at:

  1. promoting the contribution of O.R. to public policy in ways that resonate with the needs of policy practitioners, and integrate with related professions;
  2. encouraging research proposals for submission to UK, European and global sponsors to develop O.R. approaches for public policy design, and to integrate them with those of other related professions;
  3. encouraging collaborative projects and associated educational and research ventures in areas of environmental, social and economic policy where the insights of members of the OR community can offer added value;
  4. sharing knowledge and skills from O.R. and related professions that are relevant to the field of public policy, particularly relating to open and inclusive formats of collaborative engagement in planning.

When choosing initiatives, the SIG committee places great importance upon collaboration with the communities listed above and on avoiding conflicts of interest.


This SIG is an outcome of the OR Society’s charitable investment project on the “Future Policy Influence of OR”, initiated by Past President Geoff Royston and led by John Friend. Beginning in September 2013, this has already made major steps forward against the objectives listed above. It attracted a wide range of people from academia, consultancy, the civil service, and veterans of the Institute for OR (IOR), which was founded by the OR Society and the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations 50 years ago to extend the influence of O.R. in public policy.

Over three meetings, the project developed proposals for developing skills, policy research, support for practice and wider awareness-raising, which are passed on as ideas for the SIG. In addition, a small task group ran an event to showcase the use of problem structuring methods across public policy. Organised jointly with the Cabinet Office Policy Profession Support Unit and the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy, this brought together over 100 senior civil servants, other policy makers and O.R. practitioners to discuss the potential for a wider role for O.R., with its orientation towards innovation in decision processes, in the design of policy alternatives and the fuller engagement of stakeholders in the policy development process. Rob Solly also ran a stream of 12 O.R. & public policy papers at OR56 in September.

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