It demonstrates how the search for policy ‘transparency’ is also met by the technical quality assurance goals that the operational research community would recognise as best practice in the development both of software generally and spreadsheet models specifically.
This article presents two case studies, concerning the allocation of £Billions by a mechanism communicated via spreadsheet models.
It argues that technical analytic skills as well as policy development skills are a vital component of governance.
In the UK, Central Government uses funding formulae to distribute money to local service providers.
One commonly stated goal of such formulae is equity of service provision.
The conclusion from these scenarios is that the steps needed to for technical quality assurance and policy transparency are mutually reinforcing goals, with policy analysts urged to make greater use of technical analytic skills in software development.
Axiom...defines a strongly typed, mathematically correct type hierarchy.It has a programming language and a built-in compiler....However, given the complexity of public services, together with variations in need, delivery style and the exercise of stakeholder judgement as to which needs should be met and how, such formulae frequently obscure the process by which equity has been taken into account.One policy ‘solution’ to managing such tensions is to seek ‘transparency’.With respect to funding formulae, this commonly involves publishing the underlying data and formulae in spreadsheets.This paper extends the argument that such ‘transparency’ requires an audience that understands the policy assumptions (and related conceptualisations), data sources, methodological approaches and interpretation of results.