Policy Research Unit

About the PPU: Using Evidence to Improve Policy

The Public Policy Unit (PPU) is an independent research institution which aims to improve policy by increasing evidence informed policy-making, particularly in Africa.

The PPU’s key activities include:

  • Stimulating policy-maker demand for evidence by working directly with national, provincial and local government to identify their evidence needs and make connections across policy areas.
  • Improving the supply of evidence by making policy-maker evidence needs know and generating independent authoritative advice and analysis.
  • Supporting interaction between evidence suppliers and policy-makers by developing networks.
  • Facilitating knowledge exchange between different levels of government in South Africa, the rest of the Africa and beyond.

Our work

Short turnaround analysis and advice

The Institute has a rolling work programme of short turn-around assignments relating to specific government portfolios. We seek to work with government in all areas of our work programme as we improve performance

For each assignment that we undertake, the PPU seeks to identify a suitable expert or group of experts from whom it commissions bespoke pieces of advice. Depending on the issue, this advice is presented in a variety of different forms (for example: a written think piece, a series of meetings with government and their advisors, or participating in a seminar and press releases).

Assignments are not expected to produce new data or evidence. Rather, the aim is to draw on the experts’ existing knowledge of their fields, and bring this to bear on the issue at hand.

In addition to completing assignments, the Institute is also charged with assessing governments’ evidence needs, highlighting any gaps in current provision and making recommendations for filling these.

On-going work and focus areas

  1. Poverty and Inequality
    1. Evidence based research on poverty, what works,
    2. Comparative reports on areas, provinces , municipalities
    3. International evidence and lessons for SA
  2. Transformation Unit
    1. Transformation in different sectors
    2. Current state
    3. Challenges
    4. Suggestions for the future
    5. Comparative study on transformation
    6. Cross industry analysis
    7. Cross country analysis and evidence for SA
    8. Policy and transformation- the impact of policy
    9. Gaps in policy and suggestions
  3. Economy and Employment
    1. Different sectors of the economy
    2. Economic growth
    3. Challenges
    4. Comparative study
    5. Employment challenges what works
  4. Public Service
    1. Improving performance
    2. Accountability
    3. Performance management
    4. Collaboration
    5. Coping with budget cuts
    6. Comparing municipalities
  5. Education and Health
    1. Optimising education
    2. Optimising health
    3. NIH financing and public health
    4. Health input-output analysis
  6. Environment
    1. Greening policies
    2. Greening government