Table 12 summarizes the specific methods that fall within the four choice method classes. It provides a detailed elucidation of Table 1.
***Insert Table 12 about Here***
The four method classes can be summarized as follows:
Cost-Benefit Analysis – efficiency is the only goal and all dimensions of efficiency are monetized. It is equivalent to a multi-goal analysis with a single row in which all cell entries are monetized.
Efficiency Analysis – efficiency is the only goal, but not all dimensions of efficiency are monetized. Other dimensions of efficiency may be quantified and some may be expressed in qualitative terms.
Embedded Cost-Benefit Analysis – all efficiency impacts are monetized. Thus, there is an embedded NPV component. Other goals, such as equity or impact on government revenue are also included.
Multi-Goal Analysis – there are multiple goals, including efficiency. Not all dimensions of efficiency are monetized. Other goals are expressed quantitatively or qualitatively.
A clearer understanding of metachoice issues is a useful step in improving Canadian public sector policy analysis. Both the empirical evidence and experience working with analysts from several levels of Canadian governments suggest that there is confusion about the differences between the various analytical methods and when they are appropriate in specific circumstances. Some of this stems from the lack of a metachoice framework. The increasing requirement for the formal consideration of costs and benefits certainly represents progress in reducing confusion, in spite of the lack of preciseness as to their meanings. But, metachoice clarity is by no means a panacea. Offsetting this progress is the continued prominence of EIA—it is like Dracula movies, no matter how many times a wooden stake is driven through the Count’s heart you know he will be back for the sequel. Furthermore, even with a transparent metachoice framework, policy actors can and will engage in strategic behavior (De Alessi 1996; Flyvbjerg, Holm, and Buhl 2002; Sanders 2002), ignore analysis (Radin 2002) or deliberately use idiosyncratic definitions of benefits and costs (Boardman, Vining, and Waters 1993).
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