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Introduction to Public Policy: Steps in the Policy Making Process. What is public policy?. “a defined course of action/inaction taken by the federal government (and other government entities) with regard to an issue or set of issues”
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What is public policy? • “a defined course of action/inaction taken by the federal government (and other government entities) with regard to an issue or set of issues” • “A system of laws, regulatory measures, courses of action, and funding priorities concerning a given topic promulgated by a governmental entity or its representatives”. • When the federal government decides to take action to solve a societal problem or set of problems. • Public policy is normally embodied “in constitutions, legislative acts, and judicial decisions”.
1) Recognize • What is the problem or issue? • What will the role of the government be? • What is the agenda? • Issues come to the attention of federal government through: interest groups, organizations, court cases, members of Congress, bureaucratic agencies, individual citizens. • Challenge: differing opinions and priorities
2) Formulate • What are the steps that will be taken to solve the issue or problem? • Will the issue be dealt with all at once or in stages? • Challenges: different solutions proposed by different individuals, groups, organizations. Reaching a compromise on both sides.
3) Adopt • What course of action will the government ultimately take? Will it be new legislation or an executive order? • Challenge: It’s a time consuming process. Adoption of policy takes considerable amount of time, process can be difficult and often times controversial.
4) Implement • How will the new policy be applied to real situations? • How will the government make sure the general public will know about them? • What are the consequences for individuals, states, organizations that do not follow the new policy? • Challenges: uniformity and equal application of the law to all levels of gov’t
5) Evaluate • What positive changes have resulted from the policy? What are the challenges? • What are the unforeseen problems? What have been the unexpected costs? • Challenges: Will the policy be evaluated in the same way by different government entities? “Throw out” the policy or just amended it? Differing opinions on how to fix the policy.
Getting on the Political Agenda • Political Agenda -- a set of issues thought by the public or those in power to merit action by government. • Questions to consider when determining the “legitimacy” of an issue: • Current political values • Weight of custom & tradition • Impact of events
“Agents” in the policy making process • Who makes policy? • Congress, the President, the bureaucracy • Who influences policy? • Interest Groups • Political elites & the general public • state and local governments • The mass media
Interest Groups ALWAYS try to influence policy • Example: the big tobacco companies recently spent millions trying to prevent the 62 cent federal tax increase on each pack of cigarettes The International Tobacco Growers Association
Gov’t Institutions Influence Policy • The Courts and the bureaucracy have become more important in making policy in recent years. • Why do you think this is the case?
Media Influences Policy • A direct correlation exists between amount of media attention devoted to an issue AND the political attention given to that issue by the government.
Things to keep in mind about the policy making process… • Public policies are constantly changing- reshaped, modified, changed, rejected for new policies. • Public policy must be inferred from actionsand behavior of many government agencies and officials involved over time. • Policy is a process, not something that can be determined by a single event or decision. • Policy is complex, takes place on multiple levels- national, state, local. • There will be winners and losers in the policy making process.