Public policies are based on theories of change and assumptions that are rarely explicit, i.e. they simply underlie the guidelines and provisions of the policy. However, if these theories of change and assumptions are wrong, or if they simply do not exist, it will be difficult for the policy to achieve the expected results.
Reconstructing the theories and assumptions on which the policy is based makes it possible to analyse whether the policy can reasonably achieve the proposed results, or whether it has unfounded, incomplete or erroneous approaches that could make it difficult to achieve those results. This reconstruction therefore makes it possible to anticipate in order to improve the design and implementation of a public policy.
This study proposes the reconstruction of theories and assumptions as a strategic tool to improve the design and planning of public policy. With the aim of showing its use in practice, the Public Policy Framework for Comprehensive Protection and Guarantees for Social and Community Leaders, Journalists and Human Rights Defenders (the “Framework”, hereafter), publicly presented by the Presidency of the Republic of Colombia on 10 December 2019, has been analysed. According to the Government of Colombia, this Framework will be the basis for developing a public policy for the protection of this population, which is still under construction.
In order to carry out this analysis, we have worked on the theories and assumptions on which the Framework is based, compiling them, extracting them (if they were not explicit), ordering them and analysing them, all in light of the goals pursued by the Framework and following the structure of the proposed tool.