May 2, 2011

By Pacific Institute of Public Policy
The Kaselehlie Press

A cross-section of leaders from Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands gathered in Pohnpei on 7 April to discuss and develop strategies for strengthening public policy processes in their countries. Participants included representatives from legislatures, the media, NGOs, and other sectors.

The meeting was held as part of a pilot study that examined public policy processes in the north Pacific, facilitated by the Pacific Institute of Public Policy (PiPP).

A number of strategies were identified for strengthening core policy processes, including policy design, monitoring and evaluation, and accountability functions. Specific strategies proposed called for strengthening in-country policy research and analysis, performance reviews, and legislative oversight capacities. Several participants also proposed the idea of establishing local 'think tanks' as a potential way of encouraging more homegrown policy analysis and public engagement capacities.

Frederick Muller, a Senator in the RMI Nitijela (parliament) who participated in the meeting commented that, "in thinking about the public policy processes, the workshop could not have come at a better time."

"This pilot exercise has reaffirmed and suggested further strategies towards improving oversight, evaluation, and review functions (performance review and audit functions) both for the Public Account Committee (PAC) and the Auditor General Office. This strategy session on public policy processes was very useful and I support this inter-disciplinary approach and I think that similar establishment like that of the Pacific Institute of Public Policy (PiPP) based in Vanuatu can really make a difference in shaping and influencing public policy in Micronesia."

Lawyer Marstella Jack who also attended the workshop said "that the participation of the legislative bodies was integral as many of the discussions were looking at improving the law."

"I think it was the most useful one I've attended. I hope we can move from here to the next stage of sharing these strategies with the powers that be. I feel that building an environment where information flows freely is the best public service we can offer our citizens."

Participants in the study will make up what is to be a new 'policy network' for the north Pacific countries. The policy network will be supported and facilitated by PiPP.