State-Funded Studies Lack Clarity and Structure
MSI’s study on studies and analyses conducted at the behest of state institutions turned up results that more or less were expected and objectively reflected the prevailing confusion and conditions where the rules of the game have not been defined. According to the MSI study, the best way to alleviate this situation is to define clear categories for studies. An amendment which would list the categories should avoid situations where money earmarked for surveys is not used as intended.
The system whereby government bodies order surveys needs to be straightened up. There is a choice to be made between centralized and decentralized approaches. Previous experience must be considered in making this choice. The state must also focus more attention on defining the purpose for a given study, expressing the exact questions to be answered by the study, and how the study is to be used in future. The MSI study deepened suspicions that in many cases, it is not known how to use the results, or to what end.
The state must also consider that a good and high-quality study that leads to better and higher-quality decisions in the public sector requires time, updated and precise data, deeper analysis, good analysts and financial resources. Studies provide information how to appraise the socioeconomic effects of various decisions, how decisions in one sector of the economy affect others, and what additional costs to administer systems and what additional investments implementing new decisions will be required.
The centralized approach is favored by a growing number of decisions made on the basis of studies that span several administrative areas and state institutions in order to analyze the combined effects of various sectors and what happens when decisions are applied within them. Such wider-scale studies help gauge how well the state is functioning and allows problems to be solved as a whole – basically, to take better, higher-quality decisions for the good of the state and the people.
The current Estonian situation needs to be straightened out and the MSI study is a good beginning.