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Smithsonian Training

Consultation for Use of Program Design Logic Models

OP&A is offering a one-hour free consultation on the use of logic models in program design every Tuesday morning at 10:00am on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact Whitney Watriss to schedule a session.

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Office of Policy and Analysis: Overview

Competitive Advantage

The Office of Policy and Analysis (OP&A) is the Smithsonian Institution's (SI) internal unit for research, planning, performance measurement, policy analysis, evaluation, and consultation relating to management, operations, programs, and services of the central administration, units, and offices. OP&A affords all Smithsonian units and offices a cost-effective opportunity to pursue studies that they would otherwise have to forgo for lack of funds. This in-house resource is critically important to units at this time of increasingly tight resources.

OP&A has established a reputation for high quality, innovative, and results-oriented research, evaluation, and problem solving that has earned it credibility and trust with clients. Operating as an impartial analytic entity, OP&A offers important advantages for the Smithsonian:

  • Institutional memory: As an internal unit, OP&A is positioned to leverage the learning and processes from one project to others across Smithsonian units. Institutional memory within OP&A includes 23 years of visitor research conducted at Smithsonian units by the predecessor Office of Institutional Studies (ISO) and the current office, as well as 12 years of organizational and management research, both Institution-wide and unit-specific.
  • Rapid-startup: OP&A is knowledgeable and up-to-date about current circumstances within the units and Smithsonian as a whole, and thus is able to provide rapid-startup, responsive services.
  • Communication: OP&A's on-site location facilitates continuous, two-way communication with clients.
  • Holistic approach: OP&A sees the SI "big picture" and takes a holistic approach to problem solving.
  • Multi-method approaches: OP&A has the capacity to use multi-method approaches to investigate a range of organizational, managerial, and programmatic issues.


Through its products and services, OP&A contributes to better products and services for our clients and, in turn, for their audiences, including:

  • Awareness of audience interests and needs, present and future
  • Audience satisfaction
  • Intra-Smithsonian and external collaborations and new resources, capabilities, and benefits created by partnerships
  • Innovative approaches to exhibits and public programs
  • Personal connections and interactions with national and international partnering organizations
  • Flexibility or the ability to adapt to new circumstances
  • Learning relevant to future decisionmaking

Enhanced management

  • Effective communication of priorities
  • Strategic planning
  • Improved decision making
  • Enhanced accountability, particularly through goal setting and performance measurement
  • System-wide perspective
  • Awareness of trends and changing needs
  • Critical thinking and innovation
  • Timely and accurate information for the Board of Regents
  • Organizational development and learning
  • Knowledge of cross-cultural museum management practices

Increased resources

  • Support from stakeholders through greater awareness of Smithsonian and unit/office accomplishments
  • Documentation of return on investment
  • Availability of data and analysis to back requests for resources
  • Assessment of ways to use resources (e.g., materials and space, knowledge and skills, equipment and other inputs) more efficiently and effectively

Education in museum management and operations and in research for

  • Interns
  • Visiting professionals from the U.S. and other countries
  • Smithsonian staff and partners
  • Public

Compliance with federal requirements for performance reporting

  • Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)
  • Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
  • U.S. Congress
  • Executive Branch


OP&A's services are available to all units of the Smithsonian, including central management, museum directors, and project managers. OP&A serves the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Under Secretaries and other central senior managers through Institution-wide studies, annual program performance reports, strategic planning, and performance measurement. OP&A also serves museum directors, senior managers of units and offices, program managers and professional Smithsonian staff, the Board of Regents, SI and unit advisory boards, Congress, OMB, federal agencies, and other U.S. and international museums.

Through consultations with its clients and partners, OP&A develops individualized work plans that are suitable to the size and scope of each client's projects.

Through our website and face to face communications, museum professionals, SI employees, SI visitors, and the public add to OP&A's understanding of research, individual and group behaviors, and issues. They are also indirect beneficiaries of OP&A's work. Changes in organizational processes and practices, more shared interests, greater sharing of information, enhanced visitors satisfaction cost reductions, organizational design modifications, revitalization of leadership, and creativity and innovation are some of the positive results reported by beneficiaries.