Public Policy

What we do

Howard Partners has an established track record in research, analysis and advice in relation to science, technology and innovation (STI) policy, regional policy, and industry policy. We have a particular interest in regional innovation systems and the role of higher education in regional economic development.

Our approach is evidence based, through a commitment to research, analysis and synthesis of scholarly and official literature. We are experienced in stakeholder consultation and have a highly regarded capability to produce reports that are easy to read and are readily comprehended by target audiences.


Recent projects

Public Policy Drift: Why governments must replace ‘policy on the run’ and ‘policy by fiat’ with a ‘business case’ approach to regain public confidence, Institute of Public Administration Australia, April 2012

The Paper argues for the adoption of good practice approaches to policy making. It presents ten criteria for a good public policy around business case considerations and calls on policymakers to act more as stewards and less as top-down controllers of tightly defined processes. It argues that the evidence-based approach must be seen in a broader context of policy making which is inclusive, engaged and open.  Download Paper


Regional Development Strategy for Canberra and the Capital Region: Discussion Paper, Canberra Business Council. 2013

Enhancing Canberra's Role as a National and Regional Hub for Economic Development/

This Paper provides and overview and summary of a direction for a Regional Economic Development Strategy for Canberra and the Capital Region. It points to the importance of the Commonwealth Government as a key driver of demand for goods and services in the region, the importance of production in the public administration and safety industry and the flow through impacts to health, education and the arts, construction, and professional, scientific and technical services sectors. The importance of retail, the manufacturing industry, particularly food processing and metal fabrication, from a  regional perspective is also addressed.

The analysis pointed to the unlikely recessionary impact of a cutback in Commonwealth Government employment in the ACT. The economy had, in fact, been performing at over capacity for a number of years.

View Draft Report


Framework for an Australian Capital Territory Clean Economy Strategy: Economic, Environmental, and Social Perspectives.

ACT Government, September 2010

The ACT Government commissioned the Innovation Office at the University of Canberra to undertake an initial scoping Study to shape future work on a ‘clean economy’ development strategy for the ACT.

This project was the first step in delivering on a commitment in the ACT Parliamentary Agreement between the ALP and the Greens on the development of a “detailed government strategy, with appropriate incentives, that supports the ongoing growth of the ‘green economy’ in the ACT.” The primary output of the project was a framework document that describes the likely components and directions of a ‘clean economic development’ strategy.


Self Evaluation Report. OECD Reviews of Higher Education in City and Regional Development. 2009, IMHE.2009.

Assistance to the Victorian Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development in preparation of the self evaluation report of the State of Victoria as part of the OECD Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE) program of Reviews of Higher Education in City and Regional Development.

The review was prepared in response to guidelines provided by the OECD to all participating regions. The Review was published as: State of Victoria (2010), “The State of Victoria, Australia: Self- Evaluation Report”, OECD Reviews of Higher Education in Regional and City Development, IMHE.  View Report


Rigour and Relevance: Towards a scholarship of integration. Extending the role of social sciences and humanities in public policy research, Canberra, Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. 2008

Publicly funder research must satisfy the requirements of both rigour (excellence) and relevance (usefulness) to end users. Research excellence has a strong disciplinary orientation, whereas relevant research tends to require insights from many disciplines.

The paper argues that it is becoming increasingly necessary to draw on knowledge from many disciplines to meet the knowledge challenges and opportunities of the modern economy. In particular, scientific and technological research benefits from the inclusion of complementary work in the social sciences and humanities. We need to think about ways the practice of interdisciplinary research can be encouraged and facilitated.

Interdisciplinary research is likely to be driven by well articulated end-user requirements. The creation of new knowledge to address those requirements rarely falls within the ambit of a single discipline.  With almost universal recognition of the importance of research and  innovation to the economy, industry and business, the time is opportune to address ways to support and fund problem-oriented, interdisciplinary research.

This paper looks at the sort of arrangements that can accommodate the demands for rigour  and relevance in research performance and proposes a series of changes to enable integrative research in the public policy arena.

View Paper


Melbourne: Australia's Knowledge Capital. A Study of the Economic, Social and Cultural Contributions of Victoria's Universities with a Melbourne Presence, Melbourne City Council and Melbourne Universities Vice-Chancellors' Forum, 2007

The Study set out to identify the contributions made by Melbourne's universities to the economic, social and cultural life of the metropolitan area and a develop a deeper appreciation of the role of universities as generators of knowledge, innovation, productivity, social cohesion and economic development.

It was argued that a greater understanding of the role of universities can lead to Melbourne being positioned as Australia's 'Knowledge City' and a globally significant destination for investment, education, business, trade and creative activity. In turn, the vitality and success of universities in their urban context depend on community, economic and cultural settings as well as sound governance. Download Report


Digital Factories: the Hidden Revolution in Australian Manufacturing, Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, September 2005

Digital factories examines how Australian manufacturers, including Orica, Arnotts and Bluescope Steel have used ICT to compete and to differentiate their products in the marketplace. The report brings home the importance of Australia’s ICT capability in providing innovative solutions that meet the needs of manufacturing, and shows that companies that use ICT strategically in their operations.

Download Report


Securing Our Manufacturing Future: A Study of the Outlook for Small Business Manufacturing to 2015, NSW Small Business Development Corporation.

Although the Report was prepared in 2005, the issues raised are still of contemporary relevance and application.  View Report.


Earlier Projects

Howard Partners has also completed a number of policy review and evaluation projects. Projects which are in the public domain are listed below.


Review of the Smart State Research Facilities Fund. Brisbane: Department to State Development and Innovation, Queensland. 2004


Assessment of the Utility to Australia of the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems Program as a tool for International, Industrial R&D Collaboration.

Sydney: Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources. 2004


Interim Evaluation of the Renewable Energy Equity Fund (REEF) Program. Canberra: AusIndustry and the Australian Greenhouse Office. 2002


Interim Evaluation of the Innovation Investment Funds (IIF) Program. Canberra: Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources. 2002


Interim Evaluation of the Commercialising Emerging Technologies (COMET) Program. Canberra: Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources. 2002


Evaluation of the New Industries Development Program. Canberra: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. 2002. See Report


Review of the Supermarket to Asia Strategy. Canberra: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.1998




During 2018 Howard Partners is celebrating 20 years as an independent public policy research, advisory, and management consulting firm.


Howard Partners was honoured to have contributed to the Innovation and Science Australia Strategic Plan, Australia 2030: Prosperity Though Innovation, released in early 2018. Our Consultations Report and Expert Opinion Survey was released at the same time.


Howard Partners has recently completed the Performance Review of the Rural Innovation System for the  National Primary Industries Research and Innovation Committee. Publication is expected shortly.


The firm has also recently completed an innovation narrative of the Canberra Innovation System for the period 1998-2018.  Publication is also expected shortly.




Dr John Howard

PO Box 4090, Manuka, ACT, 2603


P +61 (0) 2 6273 5222 (Canberra)

M +61 (0) 4 0358 3600