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Public Policy

Public Policy

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Published by Tanu Priya

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Published by: Tanu Priya on Mar 04, 2013
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There are or can be many reasons why an individual chooses to meditate on, explore and/or write an essay. These range fromsatisfying personal needs to the more open inclination to sharing with the greater society with the view to contributing to societaladvancement and development by sharing information, if not knowledge
.This piece derives its ethos from the latter. In this context, it owes some apology if it does not meet all the rigorous high faluting theoreticalprofundity. Rather, its object is to contribute to mainstreaming socio-politico-cum-administrative adroitness and optimal praxis re-engineered andmonitored by societal timely awareness, enlightened, active engagement and participation based on correct, reliable, factual and wholesomeinformation.But why public policy in particular? Well, because public policies have always, are now and will continue to influence if not affect our selves and lives,families, communities, societies, sub-region, the region and the global village at large in all aspects of life and livelihood.By nature and to all intent and purposes, public policies influence our daily interactions to such a profound extent that with a closer look, we soonrealize that we need to be active stakeholders in all aspects of public policies, including their analysis. This is my contribution and in sharing with mybrethren, I propose to go as follows:. Brief Genesis of Policy Science.. Definition of Public Policy.. Understanding Public Policy.. Types of Public Policies.. An Applied Problem - Solving Model of the Policy Process.. Policy Implementation - Policy Design and the Choice of Policy Instrument.. The Realities of Policy Implementation.. Measures Policy Makers can take to improve Policy Design to facilitate Implementation.. Factors to be considered in selecting Policy Instrument Choice.. Policy Evaluation, Analysis and Policy Learning.. Types of Policy Evaluation.. Conclusion.This way, I very much hope that it will be easy to follow and back track (if need be).
Brief Genesis of Policy Science
 Policy Science is a relatively recent discipline emerging in North America and Europe post World War II as students of political science searched fornew understanding of the relationships between governments and citizens.Before then, studies of political life tended to focus on the normative or moral dimensions of governments using western political philosophy andpolitical cybernetics to seek insights into the purpose, whys and wherefores of government and the activities governments need to or should undertakeif their citizenry were to attain the good life. These inquiries generated a rich corpus of literature and discussion of the nature of society, the role of the state, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens and governments alike.However, the increasing and obvious hiatus between prescriptive political theory and the political practice of modern states led many to search foralternative methods of examining politics, one of which would reconcile theory and praxis through empirical analysis of existing polities.In this context of change and reassessment, several new approaches appeared with some concentrating on the characteristics of national societies andcultures. Most of these approaches - behaviorism, elite studies, political cybernetics and studies of political culture have come and gone as scholarsexperimented with each before grasping its limitations and abandoning it to search for something better.However, one approach is still with us which concentrates on what governments actually do as opposed to what governments should or ought to do.This is an approach which focuses on public policies and public policy making, or as the originators would call it, policy science pioneered by HaroldLasswell and others in the United States and United Kingdom.The approach was expected to replace traditional political studies, integrating the study of political theory and political practice without falling into thetraps of formal legal studies. To the extent that policy sciences have developed a significant corpus of empirical and theoretical studies into theactivities of numerous governments and the globe, the early efforts of Lasswell and colleagues remain valid as well as valuable and continue to provide
 
us with the solid foundation upon which the study of public policy is based.
Definition of Public Policy.
 Now that we have traced, very briefly, the genesis of policy science, we now need to define what a public policy is. It this regard, I will not go into anytheoretical configuration, but will rather advance a working definition for which there are many competing advances - some are complex while othersare simple.Notwithstanding, they all agree on certain key aspects e.g. public policies result from decisions made by governments and decisions by governments todo nothing are just as much policy as are decisions to do something.Thomas Dye defines public policy as "anything a government chooses to do or not to do" while William Jenkins defines it as "a set of interrelateddecisions taken by a political actor or group of actors covering the selection of goals and the means of achieving them within a specified situationwhere those decisions should, in principle, be within the power of those actors to achieve".On the other hand, James Anderson offers that a policy is "a purposive course of action followed by an actor or set of actors in dealing with a problemor matter of concern". As can be thus discerned, all three definitions serve to outline what a public policy is and to a large extent, that public policyformulation is a difficult task and cannot be accomplished simply by going through the official records of government decision-making found in suchforms as laws, acts, regulations and promulgations. Although these are vital sources of information, public policies extend beyond the record of concrete choices to encompass the realm of potentialchoices, or choices not made.
Understanding Public Policy.
 Public policy is a complex phenomenon consisting of numerous decisions madeby numerous individuals and organizations and often shaped by earlier policies and frequently linked closely with other seemingly unrelated decisions. As such, it poses grave difficulties for analysts and it is argued that public policies vary according to the nature of the political system and its links withsociety. An other direction is to search for causal variables in public policy-making or what is sometimes referred to as policy determinants.Such analysis focuses on whether or not public policies are determined by macro level socio-economic factors or micro level behavioural elements andsuch analysis is largely empirical and often quantitative in orientation.While the method may enhance our understanding of public policies, they tend to lean towards general macro level explanations and often fail todevelop their arguments in the sectoral and temporal contexts in which most public policies develop.
Types of Public Policies
 n Regulatory.n Distributive.n Re-distributive.n Constitutive.By regulatory, we mean those policies that have specifically been designed for regulating spheres of operations to even out the playing field toenhance objective and rational courses of action in the public domain.By distributive, we mean those policies designed to ensure actions directed towards distributing the national cake between and within actors be itpublic or private. Such policies and actions are very important since market failures, as a result of the multi-faceted nature of market imperfections,are common place.Re-distributive policies are those that are formulated if and when the distributive one has not been effective and a course or courses of inter-relatedactions are needed. Constitutive policies are those that establish measures designed to bring into conformity desirable measures to enhance systemicrealignment processes and attendant variations and impact. A
n Applied Problem-Solving Model of the Policy Process
 One of the most popular means of simplifying public policy making has been to disaggregate the process into a series of discrete and complementarystages and sub-stages and the sequencing is oft referred to as `The Policy Cycle' . There are five (5) such stages and their relationship to AppliedProblem-Solving as follows:The first thing is to recognise that a problem exists which corresponds to agenda setting in the context of an applied problem-solving model. The

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