The Advocacy Position Decision Model


This decision model is intended for use in the process of developing and disseminating public policy statements on behalf of the American Academy of Actuaries that advocate a specific position on behalf of the public. Some of its criteria are mandatory and some are discretionary, but, in all cases, the model should be applied with common sense.

The model is in the form of a series of questions. Each question and the subject it represents should be considered in the development of public statements that advocate a specific position on behalf of the public.

The model will be useful throughout the development of statements and should be specifically applied by the individuals responsible for final approvals of statements.

It is meant to complement but not replace the "Guidelines for Making Public Statements" of the Academy. It should help assure the intents of the guidelines are fulfilled but does not address the processes delineated in the guidelines.

Structure and application

The model consists of five levels (categories) of questions. The five levels are named qualifiers, clarifiers, justifiers, implementers, and screeners. In each level there is an overarching question intended only to help describe the context of the level.

None of the lists is necessarily exhaustive, so, for a given application, other appropriate questions may surface. If so, they should be documented. Each level and its application is explained below.

Level 1. Qualifiers
Qualifiers identify threshold conditions that must be met in order to start development and which, in addition, must be met throughout development. Each question must have "yes" as an answer. If, at any point in the development, conditions change so that any one of these questions has an unsatisfactory answer, the project should stop.

Level 2. Clarifiers
Clarifiers are focusing questions that address conditions that must be met at the time of release of a public statement but do not need to be fulfilled at the outset. They are objectives to work toward during development. Work should not even start without belief that the objectives implied by the clarifiers can be met. In that sense, the category also serves as a qualifier.

Level 3. Justifiers
A “yes” answer to any one of the justifiers is adequate to start a project and keep it going. The justifiers serve to help determine and define a focused purpose for a statement. When a project has more than one positive response (normally a good thing), care should be taken to avoid trying to do too many things or satisfy too many audiences in a single statement. The category itself is both a qualifier and a clarifier.

Level 4. Implementers
This category is one of tactics and logistics. The questions will help set priorities, timelines, and resources. They can be particularly helpful in implementation planning.

Level 5. Screeners
The screeners help identify the risk/reward exposures of a proposed statement, as well as both intended and unintended consequences. They are, more than anything else, due diligence questions.

None are conditions that must be met in order to release a statement, but their use may identify conditions that must be prepared for or dealt with at release. By discussing the proposed statement in the context of these questions, the group working on it can take a necessary and valuable "step-back" look at its work.


Level 1. Qualifiers

Is the issue significant enough for the use of Academy resources?

—Is it consistent with the Academy vision and mission?

—Is it "actuarial"?

  • Broad definition of actuarial
  • In concept and/or content

—Does it relate to a need of an identifiable public?

—Will it have an impact?

—Does it advocate a specific position on behalf of the public?

Level 2. Clarifiers

What quality content can we deliver?

—What can we contribute?

  • Facts? Knowledge? Tools? Analysis?

—Can we be objective?

—Can we be clear and concise?

—Will we be credible?

Level 3. Justifiers

Why bother?

—Will it educate or inform the public?

—Can it help cause policy improvement?

—Does it advocate for the profession?

  • Promote? Defend? Market? Protect?

—Do our members expect that we would make a statement?

—Did someone ask for it?

Level 4. Implementers

How do we make the statement?

—Is it a current or future issue?

—Are we being proactive, reactive, or responding?

—What method of communication should we use?

—What resources do we need?

  • Staff? Volunteer? Knowledge? Data? Money?

—Do we have enough time to do quality work?

Level 5. Screeners

5a. What is the risk?

—Could there be political fallout?

  • How much? How probable? Good or bad?

—How will our members react?

  • Consensus? If not, can we get it? If not, then what?

—Will timing permit exposure to the membership?

—Are there potential unintended consequences?

—Are there potential collateral consequences?

  • Good? Bad? Benign?

Can it be misused or used against us?

5b. What is the reward?

—Who benefits and how?

  • The Academy? The profession? An identifiable public? An identifiable group? A political body?
  • Are the benefits direct or indirect? Are there collateral benefits?
  • Are the benefits current or deferred?
  • What are the benefits?

—What other follow on public policy issues can this help the Academy/profession speak to?