时事分析 | 公共行政及法制 | 2019-06-20 | 《经济日报》

「TripAdvisor模式」对设计公共项目的启示



出外旅行,想找好的酒店、餐厅、购物地点,不少人会参考旅游网站TripAdvisor;假如有一个类似的资料库,但罗列的不是酒店、餐厅、商场,而是各种公共项目,并就它们的成效评分,这样的资料库对政府、民间团体,以至关心社会的普罗市民,会否也大有帮助?以上的概念并非梦话,现时不少在外国的「研究结算中心」(research clearinghouse),正仿如公共项目版的TripAdvisor。

各有专注范畴 捐窿捐罅搜罗政策选项

世界各地的政府和民间组织,都会透过公共项目处理社会问题,改善人们的生活质素,例如推出措施协助基层儿童摆脱贫穷。[1]但问题是,要设计成效卓著、值得投资的公共项目,谈何容易,因此往往需要借鉴他人的实践经验。各大大小小的「研究结算中心」,正好是相关实践经验的资料库。

根据非牟利组织The Bridgespan Group在2015年发表的研究报告,美国至少有36个研究结算中心,而欧盟、英国、加拿大、瑞典则合共有15个。[2]这些研究结算中心主攻的范畴各异,有的专为个别政策范畴而设,例如专攻罪案和司法领域的CrimeSolutions.gov[3],以及关注青年发展的Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development[4];有的则以地域为本,例如以美国华盛顿州为服务对象的Washington State Institute for Public Policy。[5]

研究结算中心的搞手,并无固定背景,由美国司法部设立的Crimesolutions.gov[6],固然甚具官方色彩;但上述的Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development,却属民间机构,由美国科罗拉多大学波德分校的Institute of Behavioral Science营运,资金由慈善组织Arnold Ventures提供。[7]

建立机制 识别好项目

背景各异,但大部分研究结算中心都有一大共通点,就是要搜罗与其主攻范畴相关的公共项目。当然,纯粹陈列各种项目及措施,并不足以让研究结算中心成为公共项目版的TripAdvisor,因为TripAdvisor的一个重要价值,是审视各种选择的优劣。将此功能套用于研究结算中心,就是去芜存菁,识别具质素的公共项目,甚至按成效及相关研究的质素,为公共项目评级,供外界参考。这些工作需要大量的时间及资源,即使是资源丰富的政府,也会发现过程殊不简单,因为某些相关研究可能散落于学术期刊,甚至是不被广传的报告。[8]以CrimeSolutions.gov为例,经其审核的项目会按预计成效评级,包括:

一,「有效的项目」(Effective Programs),代表项目有强烈证据显示,当项目切实地执行便会达到预期的效果;

二,「有一定成效的项目」(Promising Programs),代表项目有一些证据显示会达到预期效果;以及

三,「无效的项目」(No Effects Programs),即有强烈证据显示,即使项目切实执行,亦不会带来效果,甚至对社会有害。[9]

项目评级看似简单,但具公信力的评级,过程必须涉及多重步骤,亦要经专业人士把关。其中CrimeSolutions.gov的做法是由首席研究员选出最多三个设计及研究方法最严谨的研究,交由评审人员就项目的理论框架、成果的证据及忠实执行程度,以及研究设计四个环节评分。[10]

某些研究结算中心对于政策制订者具有一定影响力。以Washington State Institute for Public Policy为例,其自上世纪90年代起,已被美国华盛顿州的立法机关指示,要辨识出「实证为本」的政策,为当地的议员提供经过详细研究、甚为确定可让该州得益,并更有效运用公帑的公共政策。[11]美国司法部成立CrimeSolutions.gov时,也期望该研究结算中心可透过基于数据及证据的分析,辨识及复制具成效的项目。[12]

尽信书不如无书 结算中心也有限制

虽然研究结算中心有助政府决策,但正如尽信TripAdvisor不如没有TripAdvisor,完全依赖研究结算中心的评审结果,决定什么公共项目值得推行,亦不见得稳妥。原因之一,偏偏是源自部分研究结算中心的严谨评核机制,例如着重项目有否进行「随机对照试验」(randomised control trial),即随机选出接受及没有接受该项目介入的人。[13]

能够进行「随机对照试验」,固然是好,然而现实世界不是科学实验室,不易找到「白老鼠」接受项目介入[14];与此同时,未获选为「白老鼠」、无法受惠于试行措施的人,则有机会感到不满。美国田纳西州早年曾进行一个小班教学成效研究,将学生及老师随机编配到安排各异的班级,并观察四年,但因为有部分家长在研究开始一年后反对,而需要作出调节。[15]

再者,即使有人心甘情愿当上「白老鼠」,但某些公共项目的成效,其实不易量度,甚至根本没有明显的完结日期[16],为评估工作增添难度。假如政府只凭显而易见的证据设计公共项目,便可能错过一些改善社会的可能性。

好政策因地而异 成功与否在尝试

最后,某地方的成功经验,不一定能移植到其他地方。例如,一个让护士上门向初次怀孕妇女传授怀孕及育儿知识的计划,虽然获得Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development的「模范」评级,并且在美国三个地方取得良好结果,但同类计划在英国及德国却成效不彰。[17]

说到底,如同我们出行时不会单凭TripAdvisor上的资讯作决定,研究结算中心的评审结果,也只是辅助工具,不应成为唯一的参考。寻找畅游各地的best kept secrets和能有效改善社会的措施,从来都没有一步到位的方案。过程中必须不断摸索,从错误中学习,方能抵达理想的目的地。

1 「关于基金」。取自儿童发展基金网站:https://www.cdf.gov.hk/tc/aboutus/components/introduction.html,查询日期2019年6月6日;「主要元素」。取自儿童发展基金网站:https://www.cdf.gov.hk/tc/aboutus/components/components.html#mainContent,查询日期2019年6月6日。
2 Alex Neuhoff et al., "The What Works Marketplace: Helping Leaders Use Evidence to Make Smarter Choices," The Bridgespan Group, April 2015, pp. 11 and 17 and Appendix 3.
3 "About CrimeSolutions.gov," CrimeSolutions.gov, https://www.crimesolutions.gov/About.aspx, accessed May 8, 2019; "How We Review and Rate a Program From Start to Finish," CrimeSolutions.gov, https://crimesolutions.gov/about_starttofinish.aspx, accessed May 8, 2019; "Department of Justice Launches Crimesolutions.Gov Website," The United States Department of Justice, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/department-justice-launches-crimesolutionsgov-website, last modified June 22, 2011.
4 "About Blueprints," Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, https://www.blueprintsprograms.org/about, accessed June 10, 2019.
5 "Benefit-Cost Results," Washington State Institute for Public Policy, https://www.wsipp.wa.gov/BenefitCost, accessed May 8, 2019.
6 "Department of Justice Launches Crimesolutions.Gov Website," The United States Department of Justice, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/department-justice-launches-crimesolutionsgov-website, last modified June 22, 2011.
7 同4。
8 Elizabeth Davies and Torey Silloway, "Research Clearinghouses," Evidence-Based Policymaking Collaborative, https://www.evidencecollaborative.org/toolkits/research-clearinghouses, last modified November 16, 2016.
9 "How We Review and Rate a Program From Start to Finish," CrimeSolutions.gov, https://crimesolutions.gov/about_starttofinish.aspx, accessed May 8, 2019.
10 同9。
11 同5。
12 同6。
13 "Blueprints Standards," Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, https://blueprintsprograms.org/blueprints-standards, accessed June 6, 2019.
14 National Research Council (2014). The Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, pp. 97 and 98.
15 Sharon Tham and Do Hoang Van Khanh, "Randomised Controlled Trials in Policymaking," Civil Service College Singapore, https://www.csc.gov.sg/articles/randomised-controlled-trials-in-policymaking, last modified June 15, 2013; Frederick Mosteller, "The Tennessee Study of Class Size in the Early School Grades," The Future of Children 5(2) (1995), pp. 115, 116 and 119.
16 同14,第104、105页。
17 "Nurse-Family Partnership," Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, https://blueprintsprograms.org/programs/nurse-family-partnership, accessed June 10, 2019.
1 「关于基金」。取自儿童发展基金网站:https://www.cdf.gov.hk/tc/aboutus/components/introduction.html,查询日期2019年6月6日;「主要元素」。取自儿童发展基金网站:https://www.cdf.gov.hk/tc/aboutus/components/components.html#mainContent,查询日期2019年6月6日。
2 Alex Neuhoff et al., "The What Works Marketplace: Helping Leaders Use Evidence to Make Smarter Choices," The Bridgespan Group, April 2015, pp. 11 and 17 and Appendix 3.
3 "About CrimeSolutions.gov," CrimeSolutions.gov, https://www.crimesolutions.gov/About.aspx, accessed May 8, 2019; "How We Review and Rate a Program From Start to Finish," CrimeSolutions.gov, https://crimesolutions.gov/about_starttofinish.aspx, accessed May 8, 2019; "Department of Justice Launches Crimesolutions.Gov Website," The United States Department of Justice, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/department-justice-launches-crimesolutionsgov-website, last modified June 22, 2011.
4 "About Blueprints," Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, https://www.blueprintsprograms.org/about, accessed June 10, 2019.
5 "Benefit-Cost Results," Washington State Institute for Public Policy, https://www.wsipp.wa.gov/BenefitCost, accessed May 8, 2019.
6 "Department of Justice Launches Crimesolutions.Gov Website," The United States Department of Justice, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/department-justice-launches-crimesolutionsgov-website, last modified June 22, 2011.
7 同4。
8 Elizabeth Davies and Torey Silloway, "Research Clearinghouses," Evidence-Based Policymaking Collaborative, https://www.evidencecollaborative.org/toolkits/research-clearinghouses, last modified November 16, 2016.
9 "How We Review and Rate a Program From Start to Finish," CrimeSolutions.gov, https://crimesolutions.gov/about_starttofinish.aspx, accessed May 8, 2019.
10 同9。
11 同5。
12 同6。
13 "Blueprints Standards," Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, https://blueprintsprograms.org/blueprints-standards, accessed June 6, 2019.
14 National Research Council (2014). The Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, pp. 97 and 98.
15 Sharon Tham and Do Hoang Van Khanh, "Randomised Controlled Trials in Policymaking," Civil Service College Singapore, https://www.csc.gov.sg/articles/randomised-controlled-trials-in-policymaking, last modified June 15, 2013; Frederick Mosteller, "The Tennessee Study of Class Size in the Early School Grades," The Future of Children 5(2) (1995), pp. 115, 116 and 119.
16 同14,第104、105页。
17 "Nurse-Family Partnership," Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, https://blueprintsprograms.org/programs/nurse-family-partnership, accessed June 10, 2019.