This paper defines a policy system to be a collection of hardware, software, communication technologies, persons, procedures, protocols, and standards driven by and for the purpose of advancing a public organization’s mission in regard to policy analysis, planning, and program evaluation decisions. While policy systems already exist in practice, they have not been identified and studied as a separate, distinguishable area of information systems. They have components and patterns of use that could benefit governments of all levels in carrying out policy making. This paper proposes principles for building policy systems, identify their components, discuss how they address the complexities of policy making, illustrate them with several examples including a policy system built for a local government agency, and distinguish them from related systems such as management information systems, decision support systems, and collaboratories.
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