Policy shops, hired guns, and gatekeepers: The organization and distribution of policy analysts in Ontario

Michael Howlett, Andrea Migone


Policy professionals play an important role in political and administrative systems. However, the exact configuration and distribution of such personnel within agencies remains largely unknown. Early works noted the creation of small dedicated “policy shops” in many governments after 1960 where many policy professionals were located. Studies in Canada and elsewhere subsequently confirmed this organizational form but questions such as how many professionals are employed and where these units are located within existing departmental structures remain opaque. In this article, we provide an organizational mapping of professional policy personnel in the Ontario Public Service (OPS). We find that four major personnel distribution patterns exist within the OPS with only some analysts and professionals working in “classical” policy shops. These findings underscore the need to re‐evaluate the organization and staffing of professional policy analysts in government in order to better account for the kinds of work policy professionals do in modern administrations.


policy professionals, policy shops, policy analysis

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@Annual Review of Policy Design ISSN: ISSN 2291-6989