9.1 Communication Goals, the Audience, and Challenges
| It is important to
keep in mind that ISEG performs economic analysis not only to satisfy
the various statutes and EOs by which the Agency is required to analyze
the effects of its regulations, but also to ensure that decisionmakers
(both within and outside the Agency) understand the full range of effects
that Agency action (or inaction) will have on society. Thus, any
strategy for communicating analytical results should hold improved decisionmaking
as a central goal.
The opportunities ISEG analysts have to communicate analytical results throughout the regulatory process range from workgroup meetings to stakeholder interactions to formal presentations for senior Agency management. These exchanges may involve delivering written summaries of the EA/EIA results (preliminary, proposed, final) and making oral presentations. With either written or oral communication, it is important to target the audience in determining both the content and the method of delivery. Different objectives guide presentations to senior management, workgroup members, and stakeholders, so written and oral communications to those groups should differ as well.
| The analyst must determine
the information that the audience needs to know, either to make their
decision (in the case of workgroup members or senior management) or to
understand the impact of the regulation on their particular constituency
(in the case of stakeholders). If the audience is overwhelmed with
needless detail, they may miss an important point.
ISEG analysts must consider the extent of the audiences background in economics. If the audience is not familiar with economics principles and methods, the ISEG analyst must present the analysis in a manner that is clear to a noneconomist. The audience should be able to deduce the logic of the underlying analysis without relying on terms and concepts outside their area of expertise. In this situation, the analyst should avoid excessive use of jargon. Also, the analyst should consider what elements of economics noneconomists often find either difficult to understand or, sometimes, difficult to accept: these include the concepts of opportunity cost, values of statistical lives saved, and discounting future benefits and costs, among others.
The basic principles of effective communication should be a guiding force, regardless of the medium in which the information is being exchanged. The next section identifies key principles relevant to communicating economics results.