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What really determines policy? An evaluation of outcome measures for prioritising flood and coastal risk management investment in England


Clare Johnson, Flood Hazard Research Centre, Middlesex University, Trent Park, Bramley Road, London N14 4YZ, UK


In April 2008, outcome measures (OM) replaced the old priority scoring system for the prioritisation of flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCERM) capital expenditure in England. In the context of the governance arrangements for this investment, the purpose of this paper is to provide a critical evaluation of this change: (1) to assess the ‘fitness for purpose’ of OMs for achieving government policies and goals in the delivery of sustainable FCERM and (2) to examine the capacity of the Environment Agency's proposed methodology to deliver projects against the targets set. The analysis concludes that it is far from clear whether the new OM system will deliver all the targets; offers any greater transparency, clarity or accountability; offers ‘better’ value for money across the spectrum of projects; and matches the ambitious policy aims of the government or the appraisal system within which it is a part. More positively, OMs do offer important progress and are suggestive of the ‘right’ direction of travel.