BOTEC (bō’-tek) abbr.
Back-of-the-envelope-calculation, a way to solve a complex problem by simplifying its terms.
There is nothing simple about how government policies affect public health and safety. BOTEC Analysis is a group of researchers, practitioners, and former policymakers who help governments and NGO’s deliver public goods to their citizens through the intersection of scholarship and practice.
BOTEC forges connections between experienced policymakers and groundbreaking researchers to solve problems of public health and safety.
BOTEC combines the capabilities of a consultancy and a think tank, resulting in service that is nimble and responsive but also grounded in evidence and ethical accountability.
BOTEC unlocks the power of academia. We leverage the capacities of scholars at universities, policy institutes, and non-profits to assist government agencies and NGO’s with policy problems. But unlike universities and think tanks, BOTEC strips away cumbersome administrative burdens to deliver research products at lower cost.
BOTEC empowers practitioners to be scholars. Policy problems do not start and end with contract periods. We believe in leaving agencies better than we find them. We train agency staff to engage in empirical research and evaluation, and we give them the tools to continue to evaluate their performance long after we’ve left.
At BOTEC, Research + Practice = Better Policy
BOTEC was founded in 1984 by then-Harvard professor Mark Kleiman and his colleagues at Harvard, the RAND Corporation, and other universities and think tanks across America. As a former director of policy and management analysis for the Department of Justice’s Criminal division, Mark understood that academia often moved too slowly to do more than observe and report policy problems, but he sensed an eagerness among his fellow professors to break free from an inefficient model and transform the policy space. BOTEC was born to streamline policy problems, offer cost-effective and innovative solutions, and test them rigorously.
Over the course of more than 35 years, BOTEC has lived through the War on Drugs, the crack epidemic, the 1990’s crime wave, several opioid epidemics, the prison boom, and mass incarceration. We have seen the tragic results of poor public health and safety policies. We’ve also been a part of the solution.
BOTEC’s early work involved estimating the costs involved in using and selling drugs. We correctly predicted the failure of large-scale interdiction as a way to control drug misuse, and our efforts to find solutions to this failure led to the development of the larger Swift-Certain-Fair (SCF) model of justice. SCF is system of sanction and reward rooted in behavioral economics. SCF theory underpins “focused deterrence,” a crime reduction strategy that has been applied in many contexts, including Operation Ceasefire.
SCF is also the guiding principle of the Hawaii HOPE supervision program and the many replications of that project. BOTEC has been retained by agencies to evaluate SCF-based programs, including in prison, reentry, and drug court settings. The Department of Justice (DOJ) created the SCF Resource Center within the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) in response to the success of SCF.
In the beginning, the idea that massive police action wasn’t the best response to drug misuse branded BOTEC as an outsider in the policy world. But as attitudes toward drugs shifted and governments changed, policymakers began to seek our advice as they rethought their regulatory environments. BOTEC is perhaps best known for its role as principal consultant to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB), beginning with the initial design of the adult-use cannabis marketplace in 2013. Since then, we have advised many state and national governments on the design and regulation of cannabis markets, with particular focus on public health and safety considerations.
The intersection of drug misuse, violence, policing, incarceration, supervision, and treatment is still where BOTEC does its most important work. Start here to find more information about selected past and current projects.
BOTEC draws from a diverse group of experts to connect governments and NGOs with the people who are best prepared to help them address public health and safety concerns. Unlike universities and think tanks, BOTEC offers high operational efficiency, getting the most from project staff by carefully selecting teams based on specific needs expressed by clients. We focus on getting the right answers to the right questions. Our experts understand the constraints and demands of government because they have long experience working alongside and within agencies.
The late Mark A.R. Kleiman (1951 – 2019), MPP, PhD, was the founder of BOTEC Analysis and a world-renowned expert in crime reduction, justice, and drug policy. In addition to his work with BOTEC, Mark was a Professor of Public Policy and the Director of the Crime & Justice Program at New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management, a member of the Committee on Law and Justice of the United States National Research Council, and co-editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Known for his prolific media presence and willingness to work with anyone with a good idea, Mark embodied the BOTEC ethic of putting results before ideology.
Mark attended Haverford College and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, earning an M.P.P. in Public Policy in 1974 and a Ph.D. in Public Policy in 1983. For 19 years he served as a Professor of Public Policy at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Previously, he taught at the Kennedy School, and during his tenure at UCLA, he was Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia Batten School and the first Thomas C. Schelling Professor at the University of Maryland.
During the early 1970s, Mark was a legislative aide to Congressman Les Aspin and a special assistant to Polaroid CEO Edwin Land. From 1977 to 1979, he was Deputy Director for Management and Director of Program Analysis for the Office of Management and Budget of the City of Boston. Between 1979 and 1983, Mark worked for the Office of Policy and Management Analysis in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, serving as Director. Mark was the author of five books on crime and drug policy, including When Brute Force Fails, one of the Economist magazine’s Best Books for 2009. He is missed deeply by his many friends and colleagues.