Policy Atlas:Goals

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Introduction to Goals

Goals are the potential outcomes the policies might aim to achieve. The purpose of this page is to outline parameters for associating policies with specific Goals on the Atlas.

Associating a policy with a specific Goal does not promise that the policy will be effective at achieving a goal in all contexts. In some cases, a policy might be associated with a given Goal even though Research cited on the page may suggest many cases in which the policy can be expected to be ineffective at fulfilling that prescribed goal. E.g., perhaps a sales tax holiday policy aims to stimulate consumer purchases, whereas research indicates that modest or no increase in consumer purchases have historically been generated. In such cases, it is still important to tag the policy with the Goal, allowing the policymakers to make their own decisions as to whether or not it is likely to be effective at fulling those goals in their local jurisdictions.

In other cases, a policy typically thought of as fulling one Goal might also serve other goals. For example, wireless toll payment systems (such as EZ-Pass) are often discussed as traffic efficiency measures, but they have also been shown to improve air quality and public health outcomes around toll plazas due to a reduction in the average number of idling vehicles, leaving those tags also appropriate for tagging.

In both cases, contributors should tag all known goals that they believe are associated with their policy.

Benefits of Tagging Goals on the Atlas

One of the goals of the Atlas is to provide policymakers with new ideas and alternative policies to fulfill the same policy Goal. For example, a jurisdiction struggling with violent crime might search the Atlas for policies with "Goal: Decrease the rate of violent crime" to identify policy ideas that might be locally suitable.

By creating a system of policy Goals and then associating policies with them, the Atlas will be an easier-to-browse policy catalog.

Using Goal Tags on the Atlas

Each policy page on the Atlas features a "Goals" section in which known goals of the policies can be cited.

The purpose of this page is to establish ground rules for developing a master list of Goals that can be tagged consistently and accessed from the same Goal page--for example, that there are not scattered tags associating half of a given set of policies with a goal of "Increase revenues for government" and the other half with "Increase funds for government operations," etc.

Principles for effective goals:

  • Unique: start by browsing the Atlas to see if there's already an existing goal that would have a particularly high degree of overlap with the goal you are considering to propose. If so, using the existing Goal instead will make it easier for users to come across your policies.
  • Directional(e.g., “Increase” or “Decrease” something): Indicate the direction of progress that is being sought
  • Measurable(e.g., “Area of,” “Number of,” “Rate of”; a track-able unit of measurement): define the goal in a way that can be measured. E.g., "Improve bus transportation" is a poor goal because many parties would disagree as to what an optimal bus transportation system includes. In contract, "Reduce the rate of accidents and fatalities from bus transportation" is a good goal because policymakers can clearly evaluate the impact of their policy in fulfilling a Goal.
  • Specific(e.g., “…surface area of sidewalks"; be precise about what is being measured)

In order for a policy to be formally associated with a Goal in the database, it must be tagged with the property "Has goal of::" in the following syntax:


[[Has goal of::Goal: Increase the funding available to government operations]]

[[Has goal of::Goal: Decrease the rate of injuries and deaths from pedestrian transportation]]


Goals by Category

In general, a category's Goals are listed on each Category page, available at: