Issue Campaigns combine stakeholder and crowd judgment to inform complex policy issues

While some policy debates are about what should be, many are about what will be. We can advance the latter through forecasting. Because policy issues are too big to directly forecast, however, we must first break them down in a way that makes them amenable to forecasting. In our Issue Campaign offering, we first identify forecast questions relevant to a policy issue through a combination of stakeholder interviews and surveys. We then leverage historical data and the wisdom of the crowd to forecast these questions. The goal is to improve our collective understanding of complex policy issues otherwise mired in intractable disagreement.

Example of our methodology:

The future of the relationship between the Department of Defense and Silicon Valley

Below is how we approach Issue Campaigns, using our Issue Campaign on the future of the DoD-Silicon Valley as an example. 

1. Identify relevant forecast questions via stakeholder interviews

We first interview stakeholders, such as current and former Department of Defense officials, industry professionals, and academics to understand how they think about the issue, including how they would measure the state of the DoD-Silicon Valley relationship (outcome measures) and what factors most shape the relationship. For example, geopolitical threats and the strength of the U.S. tech sector are factors commonly cited as relevant to the future of the DoD-Silicon Valley relationship. The factors and outcome measures typically are not directly forecastable. Accordingly, for each, we identify one or more forecastable metrics.

2. Collect stakeholder forecasts and look for patterns

Next, we elicit the stakeholders’ forecasts on each metric. The goal of this step is to create a baseline from which to understand the crowd forecasts. We're particularly interested in identifying areas of disagreement and uncertainty. Where stakeholders disagree, we look for correlations between stakeholders’ forecasts and their views on the overarching issue. For example, stakeholders who expect the DoD-Silicon Valley relationship to improve over the next five years forecast half a billion dollars more in DoD contracts to the "big 5" tech companies in 2024, compared to stakeholders who don't expect the DoD-Silicon Valley relationship to improve.

3. Collect Foretell crowd forecasts

We then publish the forecast questions on Foretell to generate more-granular and ongoing forecasts from our dedicated community of forecasters. 

4. Analyze ongoing forecast results

Finally, we analyze the crowd's forecasts and their relevance to the overarching issue. For example, if stakeholders disagree about whether U.S.-China tensions will increase, the crowd can serve as a tool for arbitrating the disagreement. More generally, the crowd’s ongoing attention to these critical questions should provide a useful resource for anyone interested in this issue, including how relevant factors are trending and how current events are expected to affect them.

Possible upcoming Issue Campaigns

  • U.S. Tech Workforce

    Explores the ability of the U.S. to strengthen its technology workforce

  • Semiconductor trade policy

    Explores the ability of the U.S. to increase its semiconductor manufacturing capabilities relative to China

Questions or suggestions about Issue Campaigns?

Please contact csetforetell@georgetown.edu

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