PUBLIC POLICY – MAKING
(1) Public policies are government decisions on behalf of the nation addressing specific problems of public concern. Actually, public policy is a pattern of government activity on some topic or matter that reflects the interests of society or particular segments of society. The specific course of action that is eventually taken with respect to some problem is decided through the public policy process. The term “public policy process” refers to the various processes by which public policy is formed. There is no single process by which this is achieved. Public policy is formed through numerous processes including public opinion, the media, and even demonstrations. The government, whether it is city, state, or federal, develops public policy in terms of laws, regulations, decisions, and actions. When public policy is formulated by the Congress, regulations issued in the Federal Register, executive orders issued by the president, or decisions handed down by the Supreme Court.
(2) There are three parts of public policy – making : problems, players, and policy. The problem is the issue that needs to be addressed. The player is the individual or group that is influential in forming a plan to address the problem in question. The policy is the finalized course of action decided upon by the government. In most cases, policies are widely open to interpretation by non – governmental players, including those in the private sector. Public policy is also made by leaders of religious and cultural institutions.
(3) The rational model for the public policy – making process is typically divided into four stages: public opinion formation, policy formulation, implementation and evaluation. The first stage is the public opinion formation. It starts with changing public expectations that creates a gap between the real state of things in some area and what the public wants from the government to be done or improved. At this stage the issue becomes widely discussed in the public policy debate speak to societal groups through meetings, radio or TV talk shows, hold press conferences and issue press releases. Thus, it is placed on the public policy agenda where it will be the subject of some kind of action.
(4) The second stage of the public policy life cycle is public policy formulation. This stage is otherwise called the legislative phase as it involves specific legislative proposals that have been introduced in the Congress and will directly or indirectly impact the problem. The issues at this stage become politicized and take on form and substance as proposed legislative enactments. The key actors at this stage are elected office- holders who introduce and debate the legislation and eventually vote to support or defeat it.
(5) The third stage of the policy- making process is known as the stage of public policy implementation. This phase focuses on law or the implementation of legislation that has been previously enacted. Sometimes it is called the executive stage. Although it may seem to be a highly technical process, implementation is in fact very much a political process. It involves a great deal of bargaining and negotiation between different groups of people in and out of government. During this stage, a new executive agency may be formed and the regulations may be issued implementing the legislation. The principal actors at this point are the regulators in government agencies who are writing and enforcing rules.One of the biggest problems at the implementation stage of policy-making is coordination.After officials at the federal level write a law and the subsequent regulations,people outside of the federal center are typically the ones to implement the policy . These implementators may be local officials , state administrators , or federal bureaucrats headquartered in regional offices around the country.