Steal this policy! Why the public sector should learn to share

Steal this policy! Why the public sector should learn to share

Could an open source philosophy be the evolution of policy creation? Photo:<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nanpalmero/4278466639/sizes/m/in/photostream/">Nan Palermo (Flickr)</a>
Could an open source philosophy be the evolution of policy creation? Photo:Nan Palermo (Flickr)

Hey Germany, let’s have coffee. The simple act of sharing best policy practices could help resuscitate the global economy. So why aren’t we doing it?

The private sector commonly exchanges best practices to create more effective and efficient business models. The public sector could stand to learn a thing or two. Leaders and policymakers need to extend their hand across borders to learn from the success of countries beyond their trade routes.

For instance, the German labor market has not suffered nearly as much as the U.S. during the recession. Brookings Institute Fellow Elisabeth Jacobs provides an underlying reason: they take a long-term approach to labor policy by building (and budgeting) a sort of “what-if” scenario directly into their policy.

By weighing the cost of employee retention against layoffs, they opt to keep workers but trim hours. Once the local economy improves, they ramp up accordingly. Combined with short-term compensation, German companies can mitigate both salary and job loss. How might a similar model work in the United States, England, or Greece?

While not all policies could work seamlessly across hemispheres, many could lay the foundation for localized discussion. Once customized, implementation can begin. Think of it as open-source policy creation. Developing countries could benefit from such collaboration, with the reciprocal also true. Take innovations in Curitiba, Brazil. They created a recycling system that also addressed poverty by exchanging transit tickets for waste, serving as an incentive for citizens to clean up. Could a similar policy-driven incentive also work in urban centers in Sub-Saharan Africa or India?

The ideas are out there. We just need to find them. Instead of traditional foreign policy ambassadors that focus on trade, resources or aid, why not have an official collaborator that seeks to learn, share, and then implement best policy practices?

After all, what good is knowledge if you don’t do anything with it?

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