時事分析 | 公共行政及法制 | 2019-06-20 | 《經濟日報》

「TripAdvisor模式」對設計公共項目的啟示



出外旅行,想找好的酒店、餐廳、購物地點,不少人會參考旅遊網站TripAdvisor;假如有一個類似的資料庫,但羅列的不是酒店、餐廳、商場,而是各種公共項目,並就它們的成效評分,這樣的資料庫對政府、民間團體,以至關心社會的普羅市民,會否也大有幫助?以上的概念並非夢話,現時不少在外國的「研究結算中心」(research clearinghouse),正仿如公共項目版的TripAdvisor。

各有專注範疇 捐窿捐罅搜羅政策選項

世界各地的政府和民間組織,都會透過公共項目處理社會問題,改善人們的生活質素,例如推出措施協助基層兒童擺脫貧窮。[1]但問題是,要設計成效卓著、值得投資的公共項目,談何容易,因此往往需要借鑑他人的實踐經驗。各大大小小的「研究結算中心」,正好是相關實踐經驗的資料庫。

根據非牟利組織The Bridgespan Group在2015年發表的研究報告,美國至少有36個研究結算中心,而歐盟、英國、加拿大、瑞典則合共有15個。[2]這些研究結算中心主攻的範疇各異,有的專為個別政策範疇而設,例如專攻罪案和司法領域的CrimeSolutions.gov[3],以及關注青年發展的Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development[4];有的則以地域為本,例如以美國華盛頓州為服務對象的Washington State Institute for Public Policy。[5]

研究結算中心的搞手,並無固定背景,由美國司法部設立的Crimesolutions.gov[6],固然甚具官方色彩;但上述的Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development,卻屬民間機構,由美國科羅拉多大學波德分校的Institute of Behavioral Science營運,資金由慈善組織Arnold Ventures提供。[7]

建立機制 識別好項目

背景各異,但大部分研究結算中心都有一大共通點,就是要搜羅與其主攻範疇相關的公共項目。當然,純粹陳列各種項目及措施,並不足以讓研究結算中心成為公共項目版的TripAdvisor,因為TripAdvisor的一個重要價值,是審視各種選擇的優劣。將此功能套用於研究結算中心,就是去蕪存菁,識別具質素的公共項目,甚至按成效及相關研究的質素,為公共項目評級,供外界參考。這些工作需要大量的時間及資源,即使是資源豐富的政府,也會發現過程殊不簡單,因為某些相關研究可能散落於學術期刊,甚至是不被廣傳的報告。[8]以CrimeSolutions.gov為例,經其審核的項目會按預計成效評級,包括:

一,「有效的項目」(Effective Programs),代表項目有強烈證據顯示,當項目切實地執行便會達到預期的效果;

二,「有一定成效的項目」(Promising Programs),代表項目有一些證據顯示會達到預期效果;以及

三,「無效的項目」(No Effects Programs),即有強烈證據顯示,即使項目切實執行,亦不會帶來效果,甚至對社會有害。[9]

項目評級看似簡單,但具公信力的評級,過程必須涉及多重步驟,亦要經專業人士把關。其中CrimeSolutions.gov的做法是由首席研究員選出最多三個設計及研究方法最嚴謹的研究,交由評審人員就項目的理論框架、成果的證據及忠實執行程度,以及研究設計四個環節評分。[10]

某些研究結算中心對於政策制訂者具有一定影響力。以Washington State Institute for Public Policy為例,其自上世紀90年代起,已被美國華盛頓州的立法機關指示,要辨識出「實證為本」的政策,為當地的議員提供經過詳細研究、甚為確定可讓該州得益,並更有效運用公帑的公共政策。[11]美國司法部成立CrimeSolutions.gov時,也期望該研究結算中心可透過基於數據及證據的分析,辨識及複製具成效的項目。[12]

盡信書不如無書 結算中心也有限制

雖然研究結算中心有助政府決策,但正如盡信TripAdvisor不如沒有TripAdvisor,完全依賴研究結算中心的評審結果,決定甚麼公共項目值得推行,亦不見得穩妥。原因之一,偏偏是源自部分研究結算中心的嚴謹評核機制,例如着重項目有否進行「隨機對照試驗」(randomised control trial),即隨機選出接受及沒有接受該項目介入的人。[13]

能夠進行「隨機對照試驗」,固然是好,然而現實世界不是科學實驗室,不易找到「白老鼠」接受項目介入[14];與此同時,未獲選為「白老鼠」、無法受惠於試行措施的人,則有機會感到不滿。美國田納西州早年曾進行一個小班教學成效研究,將學生及老師隨機編配到安排各異的班級,並觀察四年,但因為有部分家長在研究開始一年後反對,而需要作出調節。[15]

再者,即使有人心甘情願當上「白老鼠」,但某些公共項目的成效,其實不易量度,甚至根本沒有明顯的完結日期[16],為評估工作增添難度。假如政府只憑顯而易見的證據設計公共項目,便可能錯過一些改善社會的可能性。

好政策因地而異 成功與否在嘗試

最後,某地方的成功經驗,不一定能移植到其他地方。例如,一個讓護士上門向初次懷孕婦女傳授懷孕及育兒知識的計劃,雖然獲得Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development的「模範」評級,並且在美國三個地方取得良好結果,但同類計劃在英國及德國卻成效不彰。[17]

說到底,如同我們出行時不會單憑TripAdvisor上的資訊作決定,研究結算中心的評審結果,也只是輔助工具,不應成為唯一的參考。尋找暢遊各地的best kept secrets和能有效改善社會的措施,從來都沒有一步到位的方案。過程中必須不斷摸索,從錯誤中學習,方能抵達理想的目的地。

1 「關於基金」。取自兒童發展基金網站:https://www.cdf.gov.hk/tc/aboutus/components/introduction.html,查詢日期2019年6月6日;「主要元素」。取自兒童發展基金網站:https://www.cdf.gov.hk/tc/aboutus/components/components.html#mainContent,查詢日期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頁。
17 "Nurse-Family Partnership," Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, https://blueprintsprograms.org/programs/nurse-family-partnership, accessed June 10, 2019.
1 「關於基金」。取自兒童發展基金網站:https://www.cdf.gov.hk/tc/aboutus/components/introduction.html,查詢日期2019年6月6日;「主要元素」。取自兒童發展基金網站:https://www.cdf.gov.hk/tc/aboutus/components/components.html#mainContent,查詢日期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頁。
17 "Nurse-Family Partnership," Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, https://blueprintsprograms.org/programs/nurse-family-partnership, accessed June 10, 2019.