OPTIC is a high level policy support activity that will consolidate and extend knowledge for policy-making in the process of construction and implementation of optimal packages of transport policy measures. It includes:
- critical reviews of existing studies and theories about policy interactions in the field of policy packaging;
- improvement to existing models and assessment tools in reflecting such interactions, taking into account the impact on transportation itself and on socio-economic issues;
- combined practitioner/research workshops to involve stakeholders and identify best practices from existing cases of policy packages;
- dissemination of knowledge and experience to ease implementation and make it more effective.
OPTIC will help improve and optimise the use of existing infrastructure through more efficient, combined use of policy tools, and encompasses best practices within different fields of transport policy making. A strong emphasis on training, dissemination and user involvement is maintained throughout the project through a series of activities including a web page, a transport conference session, academic publications, targeted workshops and newswire services.
The overall objective of OPTIC is to give guidance for the design and implementation of optimal transport policy measures in combination (i.e. policy packages) to reduce adverse effects and/or provide positive synergies. The final report will offer a toolbox for policy packaging and policy implementation in the form of six fact sheets.
Six stages of the policy process have been identified. The factsheets give practical and general advices for each of these stages:
- Definition of objectives and targets: Factsheet 1. First the objectives and targets of the policy intervention must be defined. The more concrete these definitions are, the more tangible their assessment in later stages can be. Ideally, targets are connected to specific target values, or indicators. If objectives and targets remain vague, it becomes difficult to define suitable and effective policies.
- Creating an inventory of possible policy measures: Factsheet 2. Once objectives and targets have been agreed upon, an inventory of suitable measures can be set up. Each of these measures must be evaluated with respect to acceptability, effectiveness, efficiency, potential barriers and their causal relationship to other measures. The output is a decision on one or more primary measures that function as the core foundation of the policy package.
- Assessment of policies and policy package: Factsheet 3. The primary measure is assessed here, with the aim to predict in as much detail as possible impacts and to quantify effectiveness.
- Expansion of package and amendment of measures: Factsheet 4. If the primary measure is considered insufficient in any respect, further ancillary measures can be supplemented into a policy package. Based on further assessment (stage 3), the policy package can be further refined. This process iterates until a satisfactory output is reached.
- Implementation of package: Factsheet 5.
- Monitoring and evaluation: Factsheet 6. Once the package has been implemented, the effects must be monitored and evaluated and, if necessary, corrective actions taken.
In addition, the report explores in further detail indicators and tools for the assessment of policy packages; the management of barriers; and issues of transferability.
In real life, the boundaries between the stages are evidently not that clear and, importantly, a policy packaging and implementation process does not necessarily follow any fixed order.
The main result from the Optic project is the methodology to design, implement and monitor policy packages. This is performed through a toolbox, which has six individual stages/factsheets. These are namely: the objectives, the inventory, the assessment, the modification, the implementation and the monitoring. Each stage also covers the actor involvement by defining the degree of involvement and the tasks recommended per type of actor. The actors are classified in four main groups: the policians/ decision makers, the public administration, the stakeholders and the independent experts. The factsheets, in addition, include a checklist to be taken into consideration, including recommendations on how to define the objectives and targets, tools and methods to be used as well as practical examples of quantification.
Due to the complexity of designing a policy package, the Optic project emphasises on three crucial aspects:
- the assessment tools which can be used on the policy packages with regard to their effectiveness, efficiency and acceptability. These are broken down in four parts: the two main method types for policy evaluations (the open methods for qualitative assessment and the closed methods for quantitative assessment), the methodology to cope with different degrees of consensus, the general guidelines for performing an impact assessment and other integration tools such as CBA and multi-criteria decision analysis. For all the different assessment tools, Optic provides the definition of different types of performance indicators.
- the barrier management, presenting different strategies to tackle the barriers and to cope with the created conflicts between the barriers and the other criteria (such as the effectiveness or the economic efficiency), as well as ensuring the transferability of these strategies.
- the adaptive planning techniques for policies which undertake risks and uncertainties. This part consists of different methods to measure ans cope with the uncertainty, such as the Predict-and-Act, the Dynamic approach, the Negotiated approached and the Adaptive discovery.
The innovative aspects of the Optic project are the following:
- the project established a integrated framework for policy packaging, involving the element of uncertainty and its consequences.
- based on real cases, the project identified commonly occurring barriers to the formation and implementation of the policy packages and listed strategies for their management.
In general, the Optic project has contributed to bridging the gap between quantitative modelling and qualitative assessment, highlighting their strong and weak points as well as their limits and potentials. Finally, treating combinations of measures, the project has extended the potential of transport policy making.
The Optic project is designed to define a new framework of transport policy analysis in order to study several policy measures together, apply different assessment tools, manage potential barriers and cope with uncertainties. This change in the methodological framework aims at combine different techniques in order to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and acceptability of the designed policy package.
The Optic project could be used in the design and monitoring of policy packages in order to reach the White Paper targets as well as in the evaluation/ assessment studies of complex policy issues, contributing in all parts of the White Paper 2011.
The results of the project are ready to be implemented in further policy studies.