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Lecturer: HAGUMA Robert


INTRODUCTION .....................................................................................................................4
COURSE OBJECTIVES ...........................................................................................................4
CHAPITER I: THERETICAL OVERVIEW .............................................................................5
I.1 Definition of key concepts ................................................................................................5
Defining public policy .......................................................................................................5
Defining policy – making ..................................................................................................9
I.2 The use of the Word “policy”..........................................................................................11
I.2. 1 Policy as a label for a field of activity ....................................................................11
1.2.2 Policy as an expression of general purpose or desired state of affairs ....................11
1.2.3 Policy as specific proposals ....................................................................................12
1.2.4 Policy as decisions of government ..........................................................................12
1.2.5 Policy a formal authorization ..................................................................................12
1.2.6 Policy as a programme ............................................................................................12
1.2.7 Policy as output .......................................................................................................13
1.2.8 Policy as outcome ...................................................................................................13
1.2.9 Policy as a process ..................................................................................................14
1.3 Policy analysis defined ...................................................................................................14
I.3.1 Advantages of public policy analysis ......................................................................16
1.3.2 Public policy analysis and politics ..........................................................................17
1.3.3 Participants in public policy analysis ......................................................................17
I.3.4 Constraints on public policy analysis ......................................................................18
I.3.5 Levels of policy .......................................................................................................19
I.3.6 Policy initiators and the role of public managers ....................................................20
I.3.7 Comprehension methodology for policy analysis ...................................................21
Policy content analysis ....................................................................................................23
Policy systems analysis ....................................................................................................25
II.1 INTRODUCTION .........................................................................................................26
II.2 MAIN MODELS ...........................................................................................................26
II.2.1 Institutionalism: policy as institutional output .......................................................27
II.2.2 Process model: policy as political activity .............................................................28
II.2.3 Group theory: policy as group equilibrium ............................................................29
II.2.4 Elite theory: policy as elite preference ...................................................................30
II.2.5 Rationalism: Policy as efficient goal achievement .................................................32
II.2.6 Incrementalism: Policy as variations on the past ...................................................35
II.2.8 Systems theory: policy as system output ................................................................36
CHAP.III THE PUBLIC POLICY MAKING PROCESS .......................................................38
3.1 INTRODUCTION .........................................................................................................38
3.2 Public policy – making as a process ..............................................................................38
3.2.1 Problem formulation ...............................................................................................39
3.2.2 Agenda – setting ......................................................................................................41
The importance of public participation in the policy process ..........................................47
II.2.3 POLICY DESIGN...................................................................................................52
The necessity for clear goals and objectives in policy analysis ...............................................52
The difference between goals and objectives ...........................................................................53
Goals, objectives and alternatives: Sources and constraints ....................................................55
Sources .....................................................................................................................................55
3.2.4 Policy decision – making ........................................................................................57

3.2.5 Policy implementation ............................................................................................61

3.2.6 Policy Evaluation or Assessment ............................................................................64
3.2.7: Policy dynamics, change, failure and success......................................................65
Discussion themes ....................................................................................................................66


In any modern democratic state there is a policy framework (a written or

unwritten constitution) that spells out the board principles and /or values that
will enable policy – makers to set up guidelines and procedures for the
management of public affaires. It is important that all public managers
understand that good governance is the essence of the public sector, and that
good public policy management is inextricably linked with good governance. A
government aims to provide a safe, democratic and orderly environment that is
conducive to sustainable growth and the development of its citizens.
This depends, among other things, on the relevance and quality of the design
and implementation of public policies that provide the platforms for such aims.

The main reason why it is necessary to study public policy is because public
functionaries need to improve the process and ultimately the outcomes of
policy – making. Improving public service delivery requires a well – developed
understanding of the political and administrative dynamics of policy – making.
Policies provide a framework for performing management functions. Public
managers play a major role in, among other things, making, implementing,
changing and adapting departmental policy.
The purpose of this syllabus on public is essentially to orientate students who
are pursuing studies in governmental science and Public Administration, and
who whish to enter the arena of public affairs or the public sector, or for those
who desire to enhance their careers in this sector.
The course of policy making given to the student in Administrative sciences is
aimed at:
- providing a theoretical overview on policy making, policy;
- explaining models and theories that surrounding the policy making
and analysis;

- understanding public policy process, its implementation and

evaluation (assessment).


I.1 Definition of key concepts

Defining public policy

In order to understand the pubic policy making process, we should first define
public policy. The concept public policy is made up of two terms: “Public”
and “Policy”. The key questions are, what is the meaning of “public” and how
does it differ from “private”? The term “public” has several meanings in
government analysis. However, in a more generic sense, the term “public” can
be seen as denoting the idea of human community (collectivity). In his sense,
it refers to the whole community or part of it. It may also be used to refer to
those matters of concern that affect communities and require participation of
these communities in their solution.

Therefore, “public” in this case denotes collective action by the community in

dealing with problems or making decisions to ensure the community’s
continued existence. Any problems or issues that fall under this domain are
public issues and need joint effort from the people to solve them. Problems
such as crime, drought, poverty, lack of development would fall under this

It can also denote a sense of plurality. In this case, the term “public” refers to
many people. Thus, everything that is for the people in general is for the
public. The question is what are the implications of “public” to public
policy? The following can be said:

- Policies considered to be public are for the whole community.

They are produced what the public’s consent and should guard
public interest.

- Public policies are made to deal with the production and supply of
public goods. The policies thus, act as guidelines for the
production and distribution of such goods to different communities
within a given polity.

- Public policies are also designed to solve community problems.

Those in political positions act as referees to see to it that different
problems receive the political consideration they deserve. They
are expected to balance conflicting ideas and come up with what
they consider to be appropriate solutions for such issues.

Policy is defined as “a statement of intention”. Policy specifies the basic

principles to be pursued attaining specific goals.

Policy is seen as a series of related decisions, taken after liaison whit public
managers and political office – bearers that convert certain needs of the
community into objectives to be pursued by public institutions.
According to Fox, Schwella and wissink (1991: 27 – 28), the following basic
elements of public policy can be identified:

- Public policy is a policy developed by government role players,

although non – government role players, such as interest groups,
can also influence the formulation and development of policy;
- Policy is a decision statement
- policy is a general strategic action plan;
- policy is a intended course of action ;
- polity is a statement of intent ;

- Policy is a choice among alternatives ;

- Policy is an expression of general purpose ;
- Policy is a specific proposal to do or not to do something ;
- Policy is a formal authorization statement for something to be

Some scholars in public policy have offered similar definitions. They defined
policy as:

- A declaration and implementation of intention (Ranney, 1968 ,

1968 : 7)
- A comprehensive framework of and for interaction (Dye, 1978 : 4);
- A mechanism employed to realise societal goals and to allocate
(Baker, et al; 1975: 12).

We can summarise these many meanings by saying that the term policy refers
to an expression of intended actions sanctioned by those with authority and
implemented to achieve specific goals. Policy defines a series of specific
decisions that are made by agencies or individuals to do something in order to
address a problem or matter of concern. Policy is purposive, authoritative, and
should involve communities who have decided what they want to do.

From the above, it is clear that public policies whatever they are about
purposive authorization statements, proposals or plans intended to guide
public or governmental actions.
David Easton, Thomas Dye and James Anderson agreed on one interesting
definition comprising three main aspects.

Public policy is the authoritative allocation of values through the political

system to individuals in society. The highlights of this definition are authority,
i.e. that public policies are formulated and announced by these with authority;

allocation of values ; i.e. giving people resources or goods and services; the
political system, i.e. how people are organised and allowed to participate in
political discourse.

Dye (1984: 2) defines public policy as what people choose to do or not to do.
Accordingly, public policy reflects the choice of government. For example,
government may choose to build dams in all regions, choose to provide
education to all including adults, choose to participate in international peace
keeping missions. Interesting to note is that government may also choose to
do nothing about problems that confront society. Hence, form this definition,
the act of doing noting is also policy:

- Public policy is a purposive course of action followed by an actor

or set of actors in dealing with a problem or matter of concern
(Anderson, 1994: 5).

Anderson’s definition focuses on purpose or goals, the presence of actors

sanctioned by government to act on its behalf; and the presence of a problem
or matter of concern. The three aspects provide the basic tenets or
characteristics of public policy; i.e that:

- Public policies are purposive: this means that they are goal
oriented and not a result of haphazard or random action.
If the purpose in known, it becomes easy to determine whether the chosen
course of action is producing the desired results or not.

- Public policy is what government actually does, not intentions that

are not followed or implemented;
- Public policies are choices or policy decisions of government.
They result form a series of decisions made to solve problems
affecting society;

- Public policies are futuristic. They are meant to address

situations now and in the future;
- Public policies are supposed to be flexible to facilitate alternations
in line with the changing social demands;
- Public policies are designed to solve social problems or exploit
opportunities that can avail themselves for the improvement of
social welfare, the very reason for the existence of government.
For example, improving social life. At the same time, it is
intended to enhance participatory democracy and allow
meaningful involvement by communities in socio-economic
endeavours the country may wish to understate.

It is significant also to indicate that pieces of constitutions, statues of Arts of

parliament, laws, rules and regulations, programs and projects can all be
referred to as public policy.

Defining policy – making

Public policy making denotes the process that government agencies follow in
order to generate policy solutions for problems, implement these adopted
solutions, and check to see if the goals of policy have been achieved. The
process as indicated at the beginning has three activities which are
interrelated :

Meta – policy making, policy – making, and post – policy making.

These three activities represent five stages (steps) that constitute what is
generally referred to as the generic process model of policy making. These
are policy formulation or initiation, policy estimation, policy selection and
adoption, policy implementation and policy evaluation.

Policy – making is a demanding exercise that, ideally, in a democratic policy

should involve all those affected by a problem. An orderly approach is

required to make sure that all concerned give their input so that the authorities
can make informed decisions.

A lot of time usually passes by from the moment demands for a policy are
made to the moment a policy is announced and put into action or effectuated.
In fact, five categories through which policies have to pass through can be
identified. These are:

- Policy demands: Policy making begins when people make

demands for action or inaction concerning a particular problem
that affects them. Those demands act as input to the political
system. They energize the political system to begin a process of
making policy.

Once officials have been sensitised about such demands several decisions
have to be made about demands.
- Policy decisions: The policy decisions phase is one where the
policy demands are debated and several policy options that can
be used to solve the problem are considered. The objectives to
be achieved by solving the problem are developed, the outputs of
each policy option are considered and the options are compared;

- Policy statements: these are the policy pronouncements made

by authorities. These come after a choice of the most favoured
option is made and recommended for policy. Policy statements
include such things as Acts of Parliament, executive orders, and
administrative rules and regulations that indicated what should be
done to achieve the results the policy is interned for;

- Policy outputs: this refers to what is actually done in pursuance

of policy statements. It is what governments do to operationalise

policy and solve problems. It is putting policy into action to realise


- Policy outcomes: these are the results of putting policy into

action. They are the effects of policy. They are the consequences
of policy actions and they indicate whether the policy solved the
problem or matter of concern or in fact, raised other problem that
may now need policy action to alleviate them.
These policy manifestations or categories necessarily define the policy
process; they define the stages that policies pass through.

I.2 The use of the Word “policy”

There are several use of the concept policy. In fact, a useful and simple
exercise, which a student can easily undertake for himself, is to explore the
variety of different ways in which the word “policy” is used.

I.2. 1 Policy as a label for a field of activity

The most commonly encountered usage is in the context of broad statements

about a government’s “economic policy” or its “social policy” or “foreign policy”.
Wethen these broad labels there may be more specific references to the
government’s policy towards nationalised industry, or to housing policy, or to
policy regarding Rwanda. What is being described here appears to be “fields”
of governmental activity and involvement.

1.2.2 Policy as an expression of general purpose or desired state of affairs

Let us start by a statement on policy on corruption :

If in the next parliament, we shall endeavour to bring inflation lower still. Our
ultimate goal should be a society without corruption.

This is fairly typical statement of “policy” in that it expresses the bread

purposes (or “ends”) of governmental activity in one field and also describes
the state of affairs which would prevail on achievement of those purposes.

1.2.3 Policy as specific proposals

Before its adoption, the policy remains as a project, or a specific proposal to

be examined and studied towards final adoption by the parliament.

1.2.4 Policy as decisions of government

The case study approach which has often been favoured by political scientists
tends to focus on particular “decisions”, typically those arising from “moments
of choice” in some famous phenomena.

1.2.5 Policy a formal authorization

When it is said of government that is “has a policy” on a particular topic, the

reference is sometimes to the specific Act of Parliament or statutory instrument
which permits or requires an activity to take place. Or it may be said when
legislation is enacted that the policy has been carried out or implemented.

1.2.6 Policy as a programme

The term “programme” is more familiar to Americans students. A programme

is a defined and relatively specific sphere of government activity involving a
particular package of legislation, organisation and resources. Thus we can talk
of government housing policy can be said to consist of a number of
programmes such as the provision of subsidized council houses, a housing
improvement, an option mortgage programme, and so on. Programmes are
usually seen as being the means by which governments pursue their broader
purposes or ends.

1.2.7 Policy as output

Here policy is seen as what government actually delivers as opposed to what it

has promised or has authorized through legislation. Such outputs can take
many forms (the payment of cash benefits, the delivery of goods and services,
and the enforcement of rules, the invocation of symbols or the collection of

1.2.8 Policy as outcome

Another way of looking at policy is in terms of its outcome, that is, in terms of
what is actually achieved. This distinction between outputs (the activities of
government at the point of delivery) and outcomes (the impact of these
activities) is often slurred over, and is sometimes difficult to make in practice,
but it is an important one. Focusing on the impact of policies also serves as a
reminder that policy delivery and impact are rarely a matter of a straight – line
relationship between a single policy instrument or organisation interacting with
its environment to produce a clear – cut impact. The overall outcome will be
the production of the outputs of these organisations and their effect on the
environment and on one another.

1.2.9 Policy as a process

Policy involves a number of stages highlighted below:

- Deciding to decide (issue search or agenda setting)

- Deciding how to decide (or issue filtration)
- Issue definition
- Forecasting
- Setting adjectives and priorities
- Options analysis
- Policy implementation, monitoring, and control
- Evaluation and review
- Policy maintenance, succession, or termination

1.3 Policy analysis defined

Policy analysis is an attempt to measure the costs and benefits of various

policy alternatives or to evaluate the efficacy of existing policies; in other
words, to produce and transform information relevant to particular policies into
a form that could be used to resolve problems pertaining to those policies.

In the public sector, policy analysis is also concerned with conditions affecting
implementation such as executive structures, efficiency, goods and services,
recipients, equity, availability, distribution, monitoring and enforcement. In
other words, policy analysis is concerned with an explanation of the causes
and consequences of why governments do what they do.

Dorr (1991: 3) uses policy analysis to mean approaches, methods,

methodologies and techniques for improving discrete policy decisions.

Public policies are aimed at the improvement of the well being of society. It is
therefore, imperative that those policies should be analysed to determine
whether they are in effect contributing towards the common weal, i.e. whether
the policies themselves or the conditions pertaining to their implementation are
producing the desired results and impacts.

The reasons for policy analysis can be scientific, professional or political. The
basic idea underlying the scientific reason for policy analysis is to determine its
feasibility in terms of technology (can it work?), economy (what are the
resource requirements), politics (what is the impact on the executive
institutions?), society (is it socially acceptable?), and time (can it be
implemented within a reasonable period of time?).

Answers to the above could contribute to wards narrowing the gap of


Professional reasons for policy analysis are to do with the necessity for
devising the policies most suitable to resolve social problems, bearing in mind
the causes and results of policy decisions and the factors influencing policy. In
other words, there is a search for and assessment of alternative policy options,
inter alia by forecasting the direct and indirect impacts and long – range effects
of existing or proposed policies by the application of cost – benefit analysis,
modelling or simulation to the different options.

Political reasons for policy analysis are concerned with ensuring that desired
aims are realised by appropriate policies and that the political office – bearer is
supplied with the information that will enable him to understand the complexity
of the public issues he has deal with, and on which he has to make feasible

From the foregoing it is apparent that public policy analysis is likely more
concerned with description and explanation that with prescription (which is the
function of policy advocacy); with an in – depth search for the reasons for and
consequences of particular public policies, and with the developing of theories
of public policy that will be reliable and applicable to different issues and can
be utilised by different government institutions.

If the policy – maker does not know exactly what the problem to be solved is,
nor whether progress is being made in solving it, he does not know much,
which could be very costly in policy – making.

I.3.1 Advantages of public policy analysis

Policy analysis can contribute towards the making of rational choices in public
policy. It provides a basis for taking into account the probable consequences
of selected courses of action and can help the political office – bearer and the
appointed public official to work as team – mates in promotion the common

One of the main advantages of policy analysis is that, as opposed to purely

rational analysis, it helps the various participants to understand the roles of
values, particular interests and political considerations in selecting a course of

By providing ascertainable facts, which can be used to separate the relevant

and the irrelevant, and by indicating annual changes, community differences,
the clientele involved and envisaged performance versus results achieved,
policy analysis is useful in determining whether a particular policy is working or
not, and if not, noting what aspects are not working.

Good policy analysis compares not only objectives or resources, but also
alternative programmes, it markets errors easy to identify by working with
historical contexts and bears in mind that public officials must implement
policies and those citizens are involved.

1.3.2 Public policy analysis and politics

Public policy is the product (output) of the political process and is inseparable
from politics or the political ideology of the government of the days, hence for
the analysis of public policy politics is an inescapable rarity.

1.3.3 Participants in public policy analysis

The initiative for public policy emanates from three bodies:

Legislative institutions, leading public officials and interest groups. Each of
these groups is to a greater or lesser extent also engaged in the analysis of
public policy, either by bringing the attention of the policy maker to the fact that
the observable results of particular policies are not in accord with his original
intentions, or by an in depth analysis of policy.

The contribution of the public official to policy analysis is of the utmost

importance. He is daily confronted with the implementation and the causes
and the consequences particular policies, and has regular contact with the
political office bearer. As such, he is in a unique position to determine policy
inadequacies and immediately ring them to the attention of the political office
bearer with a view to adapting the policy or the executive actions pertaining to
policy implementation.

I.3.4 Constraints on public policy analysis

In the public sector the endeavour is to make public policies more rational,
more appropriate, more effective and more efficient, i.e. to promote the
common good. It should, however, be emphatically stated that public policy
analysis is not a panacea for all the possible defects in public policy.
Numerous constraints, of which the following is but a brief inventory, could
result in limiting the impact of the results of policy analysis on the policy –
maker in the adaptation of public policy :

- It often happens that societal problems are defined in relative

terms, which complicates the diversing of measures to solve
problems. Is it, for example, possible to define the poverty line on
which minimum wages are to be based in absolute terms?

- Political considerations are often paramount. The consequence is

that the policy – maker is “immune” to the results of policy
analysis and acts only in terms of what is politically feasible;

- The results of policy analysis could support a preconceived idea.

It is quite possible that a policy analyst may have a specific idea
of what the results of a particular policy ought to be. In his
application and utilisation of data he may act biasedly, with a view
to promoting his own views;

- Analysis is ineffective if it only concentrates on the effect that a

particular policy does have without also concentrating on the
effect it should have;

- Policy analysis is always incomplete, because no satisfactory way

has yet been found to predict the future. Public policies are

always orientated to the future; They provide guidelines for action

to achieve a goal which is somewhere in the future, or to eliminate
social problems with a view to a better future. Because of this, a
degree of uncertainty will always be present.

- Analysis of policies is non guarantee for improvement.

Communication of the findings of the analysis, the acceptance
thereof and the adaptation of public policies by the policy – maker
is the only proof of the value and success of policy analysis.

I.3.5 Levels of policy

Although different terminology may be used in some cases, the fallowing

levels can be di}¤inguished (cloete, 1988 : 76) :

- Political or national policy : this is broad directive policy and is

made by the legislative authority;
- Executive policy : the broad directive policy is spelled out in more
concrete terms by decisions relating to, among other things,
organising, financing and personnel. It is made by the executive
- Administrative policy : this deal with practical steps to execute a
policy and is generally made by directors general;
- Operational policy : Routine decisions are made in the day - to -
day activities. This is generally made by middle management and

I.3.6 Policy initiators and the role of public managers

Here we will consider the various levels at which policy is initiated and the
associated problems.

Ministerial initiative:

The most common way in which policy is initiated is when, often party political
dynamics, a minister tables a policy proposal. Public managers should advise
the minister concerned and make recommendations on the desirability,
implementation problems and possible political implications of the proposed

Public management initiative

The second way in which policy can be initiated is through public managers
who initiate policy independently as a result of problems arising from the work
situation. Publics managers are therefore directly involved and play a direct
role in the policy ultimately implemented. However, these policy proposals are
still subject to ministerial and technical approval by legal experts.

Society initiative

The third way in which policy can be initiated is through interest and /or
pressure groups that initiate policy from society.
The role of public managers in this context is to involve all role players form
society and encourage public participation in the policy – making process.
They should constantly make needs analyses in the various communities to
improve the general welfare. Public managers serve as means of
communication between society and legislative authority through which policy
– relevant information is conveyed.

Fex, schwella and wissink (1991 : 35) state that needs are formulated by
public managers and conveyed to the policy – makers.

I.3.7 Comprehension methodology for policy analysis

1. Policy Problem analysis

Policy Problem analysis could utilise the methods of issue determination, issue
selection, and issue structuring as steps to be followed in :

• Issue determination determines the nature of the issue,

whether problem, opportunity or threat, and defines the
objective nature of the issue to the greatest level of
specificity, through the process of determining how issues
come to the attention of policy – makers (issue search).

• Issue selection is deciding which of them will reach the

policy agenda (issue filtration) and why a particular issue
is given priority over others.

• Issue structuring is deciding what the nature of the issue

is (issue definition), in more specific and definitive terms;
this may include presentations with technical information
and graphs based on statistical analysis.

2. Policy option analysis

Policy option analysis includes approaches such as:


• Option generation which is aimed toward generating all

the possible alternative means of dealing with the issue.

It is implied that alternative options are inherent to the issue definition phase,
but it remains important that options are clearly defined in the real world and
their nature is defined to the greatest specificity.

• Option forecasting which is aimed at determining the

possible and plausible future (results and impact),
consequences of each alternative option, through trend
extrapolation, theoretical forecasts or intuitive judgement.

During this process, often seen to be the most difficult task of policy analysts,
all the possible future results and impacts of policy alternatives have to be

• Option weighing and comparison are aimed at comparing

the options with each other on the basis of applicable
criteria, and making reasoned judgements on their
individual and combined feasibility. It is suggested that
policy stakeholders, should be allowed to develop relevant
criteria to suit each policy decision situation.

As a guide – line it is recommended that basic criteria such as efficiency,

effectiveness, equality, responsivity, and adequacy of policy.

3. Policy solution optimalisation


Policy issue analysis can only provide optimal solutions of progress to solution
optimalisation if some critical questions are addressed. The methods for
solution optimalisation are as follows:

• Solution design is aimed at converting the independent

and often related policy option into a workable solution.
Through complete description of the goals and objectives
which are pursued. This includes the complete policy
working document which includes major considerations for
implementation, for instance short and long term
strategies, as well as resource requirements and
commitments for the successful implementation of the

• Solution advocacy: it is a stage in which policy proposals

are either accepted or rejected. Policy analysts often use
many of the marketing and selling skills which they have
been taught as part of policy analysis programmes to
impress their clients or political masters.

Policy content analysis

Policy content analysis comprises methods such as:

- Policy interpretation which is aimed at solving problems on the

implementation level in using accepted legal rules of
interpretation, judicial precedence and administrative law, to
determine the legality of actions based on a particular policy, but
also to clarify the original intentions of the policy – makers.

- Policy comparison which provides information on similar policy

issues and their solutions using similar or different systems as

basis on analysis. It is often necessary to refer to historic events

or to similar experiences in the same conditions to find solutions
or define the cause of problems.

- Policy change mapping (policy dynamics) provides reasons for

the types of policy change within particular environments,
applying models of policy maintenance, innovation, termination
and succession as developed by various policy scientists and

Policy systems analysis

Policy systems analysis is often applied in political science and suggests that
the following aspects need to be analysed.

- Institutional assessment provides insight into the role of different

institutions in raising policy issues and developing policy
alternatives in the policy process.

- Decision assessment questions the role of individuals groups in

the policy decision process; particularly, the influence of policy
stakeholders and important or key policy – makers.

It is often said that powerful persons influence and determine the policy
agenda and eventually the policy proposals.
This analysis focuses on the decision – making arena and the manner in which
information was transformed and utilised to make certain assumptions about
policy claims.

• Process constraint assessment questions the nature of the system

ailments and problems of bureaucracy is the focus of this type of
analysis. Very few policies reach maturity, while many others even fail
to get off the ground. Not only a lack of organisational resources and
physical infrastructure, but problems of management planning,
resources supply, control and coordination, reluctance of bureaucrats to
implement policy, and resistance from the public are among the factors
which can cause a severe breakdown in policy management.



A better understanding of the theory and practice of any academic discipline

may be reached by using models specifically designed for that purpose. In the
study of public policy a number of such models have been developed.

The generic administrative process can, for example, be used to determine the
impact of policy on any or all the fractions of personnel provision,
development, utilisation and maintenance; financing; organising; designing
work procedure and methods; and devising control and checking
arrangements. It is also possible to determine the impact of any or all of these
functions on policy.


A model is a simplified representation of some aspects of the real world. For

example, the table – top buildings that urban planners use to show how things
will look when proposed projects are completed. Or a model may be a
The models we shall use in studying public policy are conceptual models.
These are word models which try to:

1. Simplify and clarify our thinking about politics and public policy;

2. Identify important aspects of policy problems;

3. Help us to communicate with each other by focusing on essential

features of political life;

4. Direct our efforts to better understand public policy by suggesting what

is important and what is unimportant; and

5. Suggest explanations for public policy and predict its consequences.

Over the years, political science, like other scientific disciplines, has developed
a number of models to help us understand political life. Specifically we want to
examine public policy from the perspective of these models.

These models are not competitive in the sense that any one of them could be
judged “better”. Each one provides a separate focus on political life, and each
can help to understand different things about public policy. These models
describe the separate ways in which public policy can be viewed.

II.2.1 Institutionalism: policy as institutional output

Governmental structures and institutions have long been a central focus of

political science. Traditionally, political science has been defined as the study
of government institutions.

Political activities generally center around particular government institutions

(congress, the presidency, courts, states, municipalities, political parties, etc).

Public policy is authoritatively determined, implemented, and enforced by

governmental institutions.

The relationship between public policy and governmental institutions is very

close. Strictly speaking, a policy does not become a public policy until it is
adopted, implemented, and enforced by some governmental institutions.

Governmental institutions give public policy three distinctive characteristics.

First of all, government lends legitimacy to policies.

Governmental policies are generally regarded as legal obligations which

command the loyalty of citizens. People may regard the policies of other
groups and associations in society (corporations, churches, professional
organisations, civic associations, etc) as important and even binding. But only
government policies involve legal obligations.

Second, government policies involve universality. Only government policies

extend to all people in a society; the policies of other groups or organisations
only reach a part of the society.

Finally, government monopolizes coercion in society; only government can

legitimately imprison violators of its policies.
It is precisely this ability of government to command the loyalty of all it is
citizens, to enact policies governing the whole society, and to monopolize the
legitimate use of force that encourages individuals and groups to work for
enactment of their preferences into policy. Institutions may be so structured as
to facilitate certain policy outcomes and to obstruct other policy outcomes.

II.2.2 Process model: policy as political activity

Recently some political scientists have tried to group various activities

according to their relationship with public policy.
The result is a set of policy processes which usually follow this general outline:
- Identifying problems (Demands for government action)
- Formulating policy proposals : (initiation and development public
program proposals)

- Legitimating policies : (selecting a proposal, building political

support for it, and enacting it as law)
- Implementing policies : (organising bureaucracies, providing
payments or services, levying taxes)
- Evaluating policies: (studying programs, evaluating outputs and
impacts, suggesting changes and adjustments).

In short, on can view the policy process as a series of political activities

(problem identification, formulation, legitimating, implementation, and

Despite the narrow focus o the process model, it is still useful in helping us to
understand the various activities involved in policy – making. We want to keep
in mind that that policy – making involves agenda setting (capturing the
attention of policy – makers); formulating proposals (devising and selecting
policy options); legitimating policy (developing political support, warning
congressional, presidential, or court approval); implementing policy (creating
bureaucracies, spending money, enforcing laws); and evaluating policy
(finding out whether policies work, whether they are popular).

We all may prefer to live in a political system where everyone has an equal
voice in policy – making, where many separate interests put forward solutions
to public problems, where discussion, debate and decision are open and
accessible to all, where policy choices are made democratically, where
implementation is reasonable, fair, and compassionate.

II.2.3 Group theory: policy as group equilibrium

Group theory begins with the proposition that interaction among groups in the
central facts of politics. Individuals with common interests band together
formally or informally to press their demands upon government. According to

political scientist David Truman, an interest group is “a shared – attitude group

that makes certain claims upon other groups in the society”; such a group
becomes political “if and when it makes a claim through or upon any of the
institutions of government”.

Politics is really the struggle among groups to influence public policy. The task
of the political system is to manage group conflict by:

1) Establishing rules of the game in the group struggle ;

2) Arranging compromises and balancing interests;
3) Enaction compromises in the form of public policy, and
4) Enforcing these compromises.

According to group theorists, public policy at any given time is the equilibrium
reached in the group struggle.

II.2.4 Elite theory: policy as elite preference

Public policy may also be viewed as the preferences and values of a

governing elite. Although we often assert that public policy reflects the
demands of the “people”, this may express the myth rather that the reality of
any democracy. Elite theory suggests that “the people” are apathetic and ill-
informed about public policy, that elites actually shape mass opinion on policy
questions more than masses shape elite opinion.

Thus, public policy really turns out to be the preferences of elites. Public
officials and administrators merely carry out the policies decided upon by the
elite. Policies flow “downward” from elites to masses; they do not arise from
mass demands.

Elite theory can be summarized briefly as follows:


1. Society is divided into the few who have power and the many that
do not. Only a small number of persons allocate values for
society; the masses do not decide public policy.

2. The few who govern are not typical of the masses who are
governed. Elites are drawn disproportionately from the upper
socio economic strata of society.



Policy direction

Officials and administrators

Policy execution


Figure of the Elite model

4. The movement of nonelites to elite positions must be slow and

continuous to maintain stability and avoid revolution. Only
nonelites who have accepted the basic elite consensus can be
admitted to governing circles.

5. Public policy does not reflect demands of masses by rather the

prevailing values of the elite. Changes in public policy will be
incremental rather than revolutionary.

6. Action elites are subject to relatively little direct influence from

apathetic masses. Elites influence masses more than masses
influence elites.

What are the implications of elite theory for policy analysis?

First of all, elitism implies that public policy does not reflect demands of “the
people” so much as it does the interests and values of elites. Therefore,
change and innovation in public policy come about as a result of redefinitions
by elites of their own values. Because of the general conservation of elites,
that is, their interest in preserving the system, changes in the nature of the
political occur when events threater the system, and elites, acting on the basis
on enlightened self – interest, institute reforms to preserve the system and
their place in it.
Elitism does not mean that public policy will be against mass welfare, but only
that the responsibility for mass welfare rests upon the shoulders of elites, not

Second, elitism views the masses as largely passive, apathetic, and ill –
informed; mass sentiments are more often manipulated by elites, rather than
elite values being influenced by the sentiments of masses; and for the most
part, communication between elites and masses flows downward.

II.2.5 Rationalism: Policy as efficient goal achievement

A rational policy is one that is correctly designed to maximise “net value

achievement”. By “net value achievement” we mean that all relevant values of
a society are known, and that any sacrifice in one or more values that is

required by a policy is more than compensated for by the attainment of other

values. This definition of rationality is interchangeable with the concept of
efficiency. We can say that a policy is rational when it is most efficient. The
idea of efficiency involves the calculation of all social, political, and economic
values sacrificed or achieved by a public policy, not just those that can be
measured in dollars.

To select a rational policy, policy makers must:

1. Know all the society’s value preferences and their relative weights;
2. know all the consequences of each policy alternative;
3. calculate the ration of achieved result to sacrificed societal values for
each policy alternative;
4. select the most efficient policy alternative.

This rationality assumes that the value preferences of society as a whole can
be known and weighted. Rational policy making also requires information
about alternative policies, the predictive capacity to foresee accurately the
consequences of alternative policies, and the intelligence to calculate correctly
the ratio of costs to benefits.

Why is policy – making not a more rational process?

At the outset we can hypothesize several important obstacles to rational policy

1. There are no societal values that are usually agreed upon, but only the
values of specific groups and individuals, many of which are conflicting;

2. The many conflicting values cannot be compared or weighted;


3. The environment of policy makers, particularly the power and influence

system, renders it impossible for them to see or accurately weigh many
societal values, particularly those values which have no active or
powerful proponents.

4. Policy makers are not motivated to make decisions on the basis of

societal goals, but instead try to maximise their own rewards (power,
status, re-election, money, etc).

5. Policy makers are not motivated to maximise net goal achievement, but
merely to satisfy demands for progress; they do not search until they
find “the one best way” but halt their search when they find an
alternative that “”will work”.

6. There are innumerable barriers to collecting all the information required

to know all possible policy alternatives and the consequences of each
alternative, including the cost of information gathering, the availability of
the information, and the time involved in its collection.

7. Policy makers, even with the most advanced computerized analytical

techniques, do not have sufficient intelligence to calculate accurately
cost – benefits rations when a large number of diverse political, social,
economic, and cultural values are at stake.

8. Policy makers have personal needs, inhibitions, and inadequacies which

prevent them from performing in a highly rational manner.

9. Uncertainty about the consequences of various policy alternatives

compels policy makers to stick as closely as possible to previous
policies to reduce the likelihood of disturbing, unanticipated

II.2.6 Incrementalism: Policy as variations on the past

Incrementalism views public as a continuation of past government activities

with only incremental modifications. Political scientist charles E. Lindblom first
presented the incremental model in the course of a critique of the traditional
ration model of decision – making. According to Lindblom, decision – makers
do not annually review the whole range existing and proposed policies, identify
societal gaols, research the benefits and costs of alternative policies in
achieving these goals, rank – order preferences for each policy alternative in
terms of the ration of benefits to costs and then make a selection on the basis
of all relevant information.

Incrementalism is conservative in those existing programs, policies and

expenditures are considered as a base, and attention is concentrated on new
programs and policies and on increases, decreases, or modifications of
current programs.

II.2.7 Game Theory: Policy as rational choice in competitive situations

Game theory is the study of rational decisions in situations in which two or

more participants have choices to make and the outcome depends on the
choices made by each of them. It is applied to policy making where there is no
independently “best” choice that one can make, where the “best” outcomes
depend upon what others do.

The idea of a “game” is that decision makers are involved in choices that are
interdependent. Each “player” must adjust his conduct to reflect not only his
own desires and abilities but also his expectations about what other will do.

Game theory is an abstract and deductive model of policy – making. It does

not describe hove people actually make decisions, but rather how they would
go about making decisions in competitive situations if they were completely
rational. Thus, game theory is a form of rationalism, but it is applied in
competitive situations where the outcome depends on what two or more
participants do.

II.2.8 Systems theory: policy as system output

Another way to conceive public policy is to think of it as a response of a

political system to forces brought to bear upon it form the environment. Forces
generated in the environment which affect the political system are viewed as
inputs. The environment is any condition or circumstance defined as external
to the boundaries of the political system.

The political system is that group of interrelated structures and processes

which functions authoritatively to allocate values for a society. Outputs of the
political system are authoritative value allocations of the system, and these
allocations constitute public policy.

The notion of a political system has been employed, either implicitly or

explicitly, by many scholars who have sought to analyse the causes and
consequences of public policy.

System theory portrays public policy as an output of the political system. The
concept of “system” implies an identifiable set of institutions and activities in
society that function to transform demands into authoritative decisions
requiring the support of the whole society.

The concept of “system” also implies that elements of the system are
interrelated, that the system can correspond to forces in its environment, and

that it will do so in order to preserve itself. Inputs are received into the political
system in the form of both demands and support.

Demands occur when individuals or groups, in response to real or perceived

environmental conditions, act to affect public policy. Support is rendered when
individuals or groups accept the outcome of elections, obey the laws, pay their
taxes, and generally conform to policy decisions. Any system absorbs a
variety of demands, some of which conflict with each other.

In other to transform these demands into outputs (public policies) it must

arrange settlements and enforce these settlements upon the parties

In conclusion of the chapter, the aforementioned models are not competitive in

the sense that any one of them could be judged “better”. Each one provides a
separate focus on political life, and each can help to understand different
things about public policy. These models describe the separate ways in which
public policy can be viewed.



It is common in political debate to hear the assertion, “this country needs a

comprehensive national policy on, for example, youth unemployment, energy
conservation, urban development, arms control” etc…. Assertions such as
these are usually buttressed by discussions of the actions of government that
relate to the subject at issue but which have conflicting, vague, or undefined
goals and uncoordinated, inconsistent, and often ineffective administration.

The policy process normally starts when a policy issue or problem is identified
by on or more stakeholders in society who feel that the actions of the
government detrimentally affect them or another segment of society. They
then mobilise support to persuade policy – makers to do something in order to
change the status quo in their favour.

3.2 Public policy – making as a process

writing on the ecology of policy – making, Dubnick & Romzek (1999 : 197)
define the fallowing stages in the process :

- Problem identification
- Agenda – setting
- Programme design and development
- Policy legitimisation and decision
- Programme implémentation
- Programme évaluation
- Policy Dynamic (change).

For the purpose of this lecture, we view the policy process as composed of the
following stages:

- Problem identification
- Agenda setting
- Policy design
- Policy decision making
- Policy implementation
- Policy evaluation or assessment
- Policy dynamics: change, facture and success.

3.2.1 Problem formulation

Problem formulation encompasses an attempt to isolate the questions or

issues involved, to fix the context within which these issues are to be resolved,
to clarify the objectives, to discoverer the major factors that are operative, and
to get some feel for the relationships among them.

Problem is perceived as one excessive turnover in a particular program. In

this context excessive turnover with a constant influx of new personnel may
mean inefficient operation and incomplete training for those who complete the
program. The goal should be to reduce the turnover. Thy may feel they
should first address the issue of whether a high turnover really has an adverse
effect on the program operation.

In defining a problem the analyst should seek answers to the following


1. How did the situation arise? Why is it a problem?

2. who are the people who believe it is a problem?

3. Why is a solution important? If an analysis is carried out, what will be

done with it? Will any body be able to act on the results?
4. What should a solution look like? What sort of a solution is acceptable?
5. Are there competing views about what should be done? If so, what are
the assumptions the views are based on?
In any case, what assumptions about the way the target system
operates are crucial to estimating the impacts of policy decisions? Are
there any date to test these assumptions?
6. Is it the right problem anyway? Might it not be just a manifestation or a
symptom of a much larger or deeper problem? Would it be better to
tackle this larger problem if there is one?

With questions of this type and their answers, a clearer picture should begin to
emerge regarding the nature of the problem, its scope, and the benefits likely
to result from an extensive analytic effort.

It must be said that in the narrow sense the agenda – setting is preceded by
problem identification and the ability to articulate those problems before they
reach the agenda state.

This suggests that not all problems or issues identified or even articulated in
public actually reach the agenda setting stage; they must pass through a pre-
screening phase first. Once an issue has been identified as being of sufficient
interest or significance to justify policy attention, it forms focus for further
clarification, formulation and structuring, before the importance of acting on it
by the policy system is conveyed to policy-makers.

Policy issues are conflicts or disagreements about the nature and origin of
policy problems and consequently imply a difference in the approach to
problem – solving. Policy problems, on the other hand, are those needs and
non – use of opportunities that may have a detrimental effect on at least one

segment of society and may be constructively addressed through public action

(Fox and Meyer, 1995: 97-98).

In problem definition, causal linkages must be established between policy

issues that cause problems detrimental to certain causes and stakeholders.
These issues need to be addressed through deliberated public policy issues
that cause problems detrimental to certain causes and stakeholders. These
issues need to be addressed through deliberate public policy interventions at
the appropriate level by the most appropriate policy agent.

3.2.2 Agenda – setting

Policy agenda – setting is in a wider sense a deliberate process of planning

and action which defines and prioritises policy issues and problems, mobilises
support and lobbies decision – makers to take appropriate action.

Policy agenda – setting is necessary because of the deluge of policy – related

issues and problems that any government faces, normally with insufficient
resources to address these problems effectively. Any government must
therefore first determine which policy problems should receive priority. How do
governments prioritise policy issues and problems? Hogwood & Gunn (1984 :
73-74) give us insights into this process, as set out below :

Undirected viewing

This method involves collecting information with no specific purpose in mind.

Governments use this method to maintain an up-to-date picture of the political,
economic, social and technological currents in society. Central information
and intelligence agencies frequently supply ministries with data and statistics
about macro economic, social and political indicators for no specific reason

except to take note a new developments and trends in different sectors of


Conditional viewing

This method involves a degree of purpose in searching for or collecting

information. Here, the focus is to see how information can either reinforce or
reject clams for priority treatment of policy problems. Officials may visit other
departments or regions for a specific purpose and use such case studies to
motivate or legitimise policy claims.

Informal search

In this method the government seeks information more actively. Public

managers might be requested to collect certain types of information.

For example, with violation of copyrights and subsequent loss of revenue for
both authors and publishers, inspectors visit tertiary institutions to look for
specific cases. As a result of these information searches, tertiary institutions
have started to put the issue on the agenda of faculty boards.

Formal search

This method involves gathering specific information for specific purposes.

Formal searches take the form of research assignments, departmental
investigations, commissions of enquiry of task teams.

Contextual issues

Public policy – making takes place in a given situation or context (Dubnick &
Romzek, 1999: 190). Swalling (1992: 7) points out that policy is about power

and that policy – making is equally about structuring the agenda of social and
political life. Agenda setting cannot, therefore be studied in isolation from
political, economic, social, technological, cultural and global factors. The
forces in society that accumulate power determine the direction of the policy
agenda. In reality, some forces in society wield more power than others when
agendas are set. Swilling points out that apart from money, communications
and the media, ideologies also influence whether issues appear on policy
agenda or not.

Public policies develop out of a given socio-political context. Agenda – setting

emanates from the same context and is therefore intrinsically linked to the
nature of the political landscape. In open and democratic societies the notion
of open and equal access to the agenda stage is advocated.

In closed and authoritarian states the power to influence the policy agenda is
largely, if not exclusively, in the hands of the party bosses or the head of state

Factors influencing agenda – setting

It is clear that the practice of agenda – setting differs from society to society;
despite this, one can make a few generalisations about factors that influence
agenda – setting in government.
Hogwood & Gunn (1984: 67 – 68) list the following factors which determine
whether or not policy problems appear on the policy agenda:

- Firstly, the problem must reach crisis proportions and can no longer be
ignored by the government. It is when the continued existence of the problem
poses a threat, either to society or the state as a whole. For example, High
crime rate.

- Secondly, the policy problems must achieve particularity;

- Thirdly, policy problems must have an emotive aspect which attrack media
attention. Issues of life and death are very often a driving force in agenda –
setting. During the months of September and October 1999, more than 80
people died in tragic bus accidents in South Africa. Of these, 26 were British
tourists. These accidents were emotive issues, firstly because people’s lives
were at stake, and secondly because they involved foreign tourists. Radio,
television and the print media took up these emotive issues to gain agenda

In a further example, in 1999 CNN reported on the school killings in Denvers,

Colorado. This a highly emotive issue, two people have killed a number of
their follow – students and wounded others. This incident was the subject of
live debated on many radio and television talk shows in United States.

Emotive issues raise high levels of awareness, which are followed by public
outcries for action. It is these public outcries that force issues onto the policy

- Fourthly, issues that have a wide impact have a better chance of reaching
agenda status that low – impact issues. The 1990 S came face to face with a
new world epidemic in the form of the HIV virus which causes AIDS. The HIV
virus has had a devastating impact both nationally and globally that is felt in
almost every aspect of life. Yet another issue that has a wide impact on nation
states is globalisation, so much so that countries have formed new economic
partnerships and realignments with strategic regional governments.

- Fifthly, these issues raise questions about power relationships in societies.

Those who have power in society have a greater ability to influence the policy

agenda. The elite theory postulates that those with money, knowledge, skills
and resources have more leverage and bargaining power as agenda – setters.
It is also true that governments tend to listen more attention very to their
constituencies and issues raised by them.

- Sixthly, some issues are fashionable for governments to address. These are
issues with symbolic value. For example, governments support major sporting
events like the Olympics, the Africa cup of Nations and the Rugby World Cup
because they are fashionable. Such events give countries worldwide
exposure, stimulate local economies and provide a huge boost for the
personal image of political leaders.

Role players in agenda – setting

This section deals with the principal actors in the agenda – setting process.

Elected political office – bearers

In democracies, elected representatives receive a mandate from the electorate

to shape and give content to public policies. This includes the mandate to
advance public views on the legislation and policy process.

Political leaders often use public speeches, media debates or political

campaigns to raise issues. This mobilises mass support for issues. Once this
mass – based support for issues exists, it becomes very difficult not to address

Appointed officials

Career public managers are both receivers and manufactures of policy

problems. They have considerable power to determine what goes into the
policy agenda. They use the following criteria in assessing the status of policy

- Urgency: officials will determine whether an issue is sufficiently

urgent to receive agenda status.
- Nature: not all problems that are brought to the attention of
officials should be in the public domain. Officials will determine
whether a problem is private or public.
- Level of agenda: once an official has determined that a problem is
a public one, he must next decide at which agenda level it
belongs. Officials will direct a problem to the strategic, tactic or
operational agenda levels.

Budgetary conditions: Officials will be reluctant to place new issues on the

policy agenda if it means transferring money from their approved budgets.
However, officials may also put new issues on the agenda as a means of
legitimising budgeting allocations.

Strategic priorities: officials are more likely to process issues which can be
linked directly or indirectly to the government’s strategic priority areas. It is, for
example, very likely that government officials will process issues of
homelessness, un employment or access to drinking water, because they can
be linked to one of the government’s priority areas, namely the alleviation of

Internal capacity: A conservative and bureaucratic response to agenda –

setting requires officials to determine whether they have internal capacity to
deal with issues before they place them or the government agenda. This
approach argues that should officials place issues on the agenda, knowing
they do not have the internal capacity for dealing with them, such behaviour
will set them up for failure.

Interest groups: Pluralism dictates that interest groups have collective strength
and the capacity to mobilise their members at relatively short notice.
Membership of interest groups is dictated by the desire to access the policy
Hypothetically, interest groups exist as long as issues are not formally on the
government’s agenda or are not receiving priority attention once on the

The importance of public participation in the policy process


Community participation in development can be defined as the involvement of

members of a community in development activities in the community in order

- Try to influence the outcomes of these activities

- Obtain as much benefits as possible from the results of those

Acceptable community participation normally takes place in the following ways:

- The first is through the involvement of legitimate, democratically
elected political representatives ( or city councillors or
other political representatives at other government levels).

They usually get polity mandates in elections or word/ constituency meetings,

or exercise their discretion as elected representatives of the community. They
are also expected to report back to their decisions on behalf of the community.
They are also expected to report back to their voters regularly in order to
obtain ratification of their decisions on behalf of the community, or to seek new

- Secondly, community participation can occur through the involvement of

leaders of legitimate organisations in the community which represents different
interests of and segments in that community (e.e.civic, cultural, religions,
welfare, recreational, youth, business and other organisations).

- Thirdly, community participation can take place through the involvement of

individual opinion leaders in the community. Some persons can influence
prevailing opinions if they are regarded highly and respected by the community
as individuals irrespective of their position in the community.

- Lastly, community participation can be achieved through the direct

involvement of ordinary members of the public in mass activities (e.g
attendance at public meetings, participation in protest marches, consumer
boycotts and other types of direct mass action). The numbers involved in
these actions are indicative of the degree of support expressed by the
community for the cause concerned.

- community participation can consist of four different types of involvement,

presented below from the least to the most effective :

Ratification, which means approving certain decisions or actions after they

have been taken. In effect, this means legitimising decisions or actions after
someone else has taken them.
It is a very weak form, in that it can only demonstrate support but cannot
influence the contents of the decision or action concerned.

Consultation which means using an audience as a sounding board and

eliciting opinions, suggestions, advice or recommendations about an issue
before or after a decision is taken unilaterally. It is also a weak and ineffective
from of participation if the decision – maker is not committed to accept the
views of his or her audience. There is no attempt to reach mutual agreement
on issues.

Negotiation, which means direct involvement by parties in discussions leading

up to joint decision – making through agreement on policy issues in a peaceful

Negotiation does not guarantee an agreement

(or a negotiated settlement), but does present an opportunity to be part of

decision by trying to persuade an opponent, bargain for a compromise, or

threaten with force if one’s views are not accepted. Negotiation is a very
effective form of participation.

Execution, which means direct involvement in the planning, drafting,

implementation and evaluation of policy programmes after decisions to adopt
then have been taken. This is the most effective type of participation because
it presents the opportunity to monitor and be part of the process of execution in
order to ensure that the policy is being implemented correctly.

Participation is enhanced if certain requirements are met and these are the
following :

- The existence of opportunities of members of the community to

exercise democratic choices in determining development priorities
for the community;
- The absence of coercion in this process
- Responsiveness of development agencies to the needs and
priorities expressed by the community itself;
- Negotiation with representative and legitimate community leaders,
organisations and community members concerned, if it is deemed
necessary to change the priorities, design or implementation of
aspects of a project;
- Consistent participatory planning, design and implementation of
the different stages of the project concerned;
- Flexibility of implementation in order to adapt to changing
circumstances and needs in the community. Types of policy agenda


One can distinguish between two types of agenda – setting, namely

systematic and institutional (Jones, 1984 : 59, Howlett & Ramesh, 1995 :

The systemic agenda is a broader set of issues facing society. Not all the
issues raised receive government attention (jones, 1984 : 59). Issues raised in
this way have a policy community and involve matters falling within the scope
of the government’s activities. Government officials receive literally thousands
of problems from the public and are expected to act on all of them. In reality,
only a small number of these issues on the systematic agenda receive serious
government intervention.

The institutional agenda, on the other hand is where problems receive formal
attention by the government (Howlett & Ramesh, 1995 : 11-113). Whereas the
systematic agenda is the government’s way of acknowledging the problem, but
doing nothing about it, institutional agendas come with government action in
the form of resources, legislation, and time – frames for action.

For example, the issue of third world debt was on the systematic agenda of the
International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other major donors, but it
was only after President Bill Clinton announced in 1999 that the United States
Would take the lead in writing of third World debt that it reached the
institutional agenda of these agencies. We may argue that the systematic
agenda is an agenda of discussion while institutional agenda is an agenda of

Cobb et al. (1976) point out that there are four major phases of agenda –
setting as issues move from the systematic to the institutional agenda. Issues
are fist initiated, their solutions specified and their support base expanded;
then if successful, the issues receive status on (or enter) the institutional



In contrast to the private sector, the public sector is primarily concerned with
serving the public. The latter could also be seen as the predominant objective
of the state, in accordance with the philosophic concept of welfare state. This
concept implies that the state, especially the Western democratic state, has
according to its conscience the responsibility of ensuring a minimum or
reasonable right of existence for all inhabitants, particularly the underprivileged
section. Aristotle remarked many centuries ago that “the state exists … not
merely to make life possible, but do make life good”.

Government executive programmes cost billions of Rwandan francs every

year and most of these funds come from taxes. Taxpayers therefore expect
government institutions to act with caution when new programmes are initiated
or existing service functions are revised.

In policy – making, before initiating new executive programmes, the cost –

efficiency or cost – benefit of such policies should be determined.

Policy design represents probably the most important stage in policy analysis.
This section focuses on the complexities surrounding the identification of clear
goals and objectives for new policy options and the identification of alternative
policies in policy design. It will also discuss what to consider when choosing
between alternative policy options in order to select the best option available,
as well as scenario forecasting.

The necessity for clear goals and objectives in policy analysis


Over time, policy theorists have devised different models of the process of
policy analysis. Despite some differences in conceptualising the policy
process, it is clear that it will always begin with the identification and definition
of a particular problem.

A problem can be defined as a “significant and unwanted discrepancy” (Mar

Rac & Wilde, 1979: 23) prevailing in a particular community. In purely scientific
terms it is normally agreed that research per se is stimulated and mutated by
the existence of a problem, and that any scientific research programme is
preceded by a clear statement of the problem. This implies that a
researchable problem must exist which, after thorough data collection and
systematisation of knowledge can lead to a point where alternatives can be
identified and recommendations made.

However, problem identification, or the “statement of the problem”, leads

nowhere if clear goals and objectives are not identified and formulated.

In other words, where do we want to go, what do we want to achieve, and

where and how do we want to address the issue at stake? Formulating goals
and objectives implies the use of judgement and the ability to anticipate future
The ability to make forecasts and to predict enables the policy analyst not only
to set clear goals and related objectives, but also to identify alternative policy
options, incorporating cost – benefit and cost – effectiveness analyses, to
arrive at the best policy options available. Again it can be stated that, as in the
case of normal scientific research, systematic, methodological policy analysis
is not possible it the problem is not defined, and the goal and objectives of the
analysis (research) are not identified and stated.

The difference between goals and objectives


According to FOX & Meyer (1995: 55), a goal is:

An unrealised state not yet achieved by the members of an organisation but

which they regard as desirable …. (and) and unrealised state or condition that
the members of an organisation do not possess, but which they deem

An objective is described by the same authors as a short – term goal that can
be deduced from an organisation’s mission and that could be stated by means
of a process of negotiation.

Given the above, and for the purpose of policy design, goals are broad
purposes, while objectives set forth specific aims. Goals are rarely expressed
in the form of operational identifications, that is definitions which specify the
set of operations necessary to measure something but objectives are.

Therefore, while goals are not quantifiable, objectives may be, and often are,
measurable in quantifiable terms. Statements of objectives can be linked to a
period of time within which policy alternatives are expected to achieve the
desired consequences, but statements of goals cannot.

What can be done to identify goals and objectives? No government policy over
time is ever complete in terms of its outcomes or effect on society. This is
mainly due to the continually developmental and changing nature of the needs
of the people, or the beneficiaries of public policy.

The environment within which the government functions is also continuously

influenced by socio-economic, technological and political value change that
necessitates a redesign of existing policies.

Goals, objectives and alternatives: Sources and constraints


- Authority : In searching for alternative solutions to a problem,

analysts may appeal to experts within a particular functional field,
for example, human rights, gender issues, child abuse education.
Such authorities can be a valuable source of policy alternatives
and, consequently, of policy goals and objectives.

- Insight : The analyst may appeal to the intuition, judgement or

tacit knowledge of those believed to have particular insight into a
problem such as crime or environmental issues.

- Scientific themes : the continuous developments of new theories

and paradigms within the social and natural sciences may provide
new ways to deal with old problem and should be viewed as an
important source of policy alternatives.

- Motivation : Alternatives may be derived from assessing the

beliefs, needs and values of stakeholders or a particular
occupational group or groups, for example blue-collar workers or
teachers who will be directly influenced by particular policy
outcomes. Information obtained from such groups could have an
important effect on formulating precise goals, objectives and

- Parallel cases : Experiences in other countries pertaining to the

application of particular policies, for example economic policy or
social policy may also be an important source of policy objectives
and alternatives.

- Analogy : the similarity between different kinds of policy problems

may also be a source of policy goals, objectives and alternatives.

- Ethical systems : Theories of social justice and equity put forward

by philosophers and other social thinkers may also serve as
sources of policy alternatives in a variety of issue areas.


Identifying goals and objectives is unfortunately not always an easy and

precise part of the process of policy design. Identifying goals and objectives is
probably the most difficult step in any policy design and is invariably
distinguished by being multiple, vague, changing over time and sometimes
conflicting in nature.

The following limitations should also be born in mind by the policy analyst not
as factors totally disqualifying policy analysis, but as factors that the analyst
should try to avoid.

These more specific constraining factors are as follows:

Budgetary constraints: As government budgets are normally insufficient to

satisfy all the needs of society, the policy analyst should opt for objectives that
are favourable and practical (Dunn, 1994: 315).

Political constraints: Certain politician may be more may favour policy options
or alternatives that are not necessary in the interest of society in general.

Organisational constraints: Ineffective organisational structures on work

processes and inadequately trained or unavailable human resources may
hamper the eventual implementation of particular policy options.

Inadequate information: the no availability of information and inadequate

information limit the analyst’s ability to specify clear, relevant and precise

Legal constraints: Legislation and departmental regulations may also limit the
achievement of objectives. It is therefore advisable that the analyst should first
acquaint himself with the legal parameters within which alternative goals and
objectives can be specified, before embanking on options that are unjustifiable
in terms of legislation.

3.2.4 Policy decision – making


Although all the functions of management and administration are interrelated,

decision – making has a specific significance for public policy – making
because it involves many different decisions.
In fact, public policy – making begins with a decision and it concludes with a
final policy decision. Between the former and the latter are a multitude of
different interrelated policy decisions. This does not mean, however, that
decision – making and policy – making are synonymous.

In order to carry out administration and management tasks, several

accompanying functions (auxiliary processes or functions) must be used, on of
which is decision – making. In other words, each public official has to make
many decisions while executing his or her daily tasks. Decision – making is

therefore a neutral aid used in each of the public administration functions.

However, policy decisions are you most significant decisions.

The nature and meaning of decision – making

There are prominent exponents of public administration, such as Lindblom

(1997) and Bauer (1957), who consider the determination of policy and
decision – making to be synonymous.

It can be accepted at this stage that decision – making is no more than a

choice made between alternatives at a given moment. When a choice has
been made, that which has been chosen is not in itself a decision. For
example, when a choice must be made between alternative objectives, the
result of the choice is not a decision, but an objective.

When a choice is made between alternative policies, the result is not a

decision, but a policy. Similarly, choices are made between alternative
organisational arrangements, alternative financial arrangements, alternative
work procedures and alternative control systems. When personnel have to be
provided, a choice is made between alternative candidates of vacancies by
means of recruiting and selection processes. The result of that choice is a
new official filling the vacancy, and not a decision.

The decision – making process

The decision is the crux of administrative action. Decision – making means

choosing a preferred action from two or more alternatives.

The decision – making process is a rational attempts by the public manager to

achieve the objectives of his institution and is required from the time when
objectives are set at an early stage of the planning process. The process also

always requires discernment, creativity, capability and experience. The

decision – making involves the following steps:

- Identification of the problem

- Development of the alternatives
- Analysis of the alternatives
- Choice of the best alternative

Types of decision

Decision – making is an intellectual activity that involves making a rational

choice between alternatives, and the following types of decision can be

1. Programmed decision – making

Programmed decisions are standing decisions. They guide the public

manager in the making of repetitive and routine decisions. Objectives,
standards, procedures, methods and policy are all examples of standardized
or programmed decisions.

• Standards :

The criterion against which anything is measured or compared is a standard.

For example, the criteria that in a given department each official must produce
500 units per day serves as a standard. Most institutions have clear standards
against which work achievement and behaviour can be measured.

These standards are considered to be programmed guidelines because they

invariably remain the same from to day.

Standards are usually adapted only when large – scale changes occur.

• Procedures

A procedure is a series of consecutive steps created for the realisation of a

particular task. In every institution there are several activities that are divided
into procedures in a attempt to reduce their complexity and the discretionary
capabilities – required.

• Methods

A method is one step of a procedure complex tasks can be subdivided into

particular procedures, which can in turn be subdivided into particular methods
for each step of the procedure.

• Rules

Rules are clear statements that indicate what should and what should not be
done. A classic example is “smoking prohibited”.
This statement deals with a specific pattern of behaviour. Non latitude is left for
judgment or discretion.

• Policy

Policy comprises vague guidelines for decision – making.

2. Unprogrammed decision – making

Sometimes decisions must be made that require a large measure of creativity

and an even greater measure of discretion. They are usually decisions that

are made for special purposes such as programmes, strategies and budgets.
Their lifespan is short since they exist for a particular or single use.

• Programmes

A programme comprises all the activities needed for the realisation of the
objective and must specify who must do what, when and by what means.

• Strategies

Strategies are plans that are drawn up in reaction to or in consideration of the

actions of other people. Strategies are to be found in departments, divisions
or sections. Within an institution, there can be strategies for marketing,
financing, reassert, personnel development, etc…

• Budgets

A budget is probably the best – known unprogrammed plan and is expressed

mainly in numerical terms.

3.2.5 Policy implementation

What is policy implementation?

In mere terms, implementation means to carry out, accomplish, fulfil, produce,


A more specific definition is provided by Van Meter & Van Horn (1975 : 447 –
488) “Policy implementation encompasses those actions by public or private
individuals (or groups) that are directed at the achievement of objectives set

forth in prior policy decisions. “they make a clear distinction between the
interrelated concepts of implementation, performance, and impact and stress.

In his model of policy implementation, Smith (1973) views implementation as a

tension – generating force in society.
Viewing policy as a continuous process without a definite and or end product,
Smith argues that the tensions and conflicts experienced in implementation
may, or may not, manifest themselves in the creation of new behavioural
patterns and relationships. In either case, the transaction phase; where the
tensions between the policy, its formulates and its targets are articulated; will
feed back into the implementation process as well as policy design.

Lowi’s (1963) states that the nature of the policy itself is critical to the success,
or otherwise, of its implementation. He proposed six “clusters of variables”
and the linkages between them shape policy and performance. The variables
- The relevance of policy standards and objectives
- Policy resources
- Interorganisational communication and enforcement activity.
- The characteristics of the implementing agencies
- The economic, social and political environment affecting the
implementing jurisdiction or organisation
- The disposition of implementers for carrying out policy decisions

What are the preconditions for successful policy implementation? And what
are the primary distances to successful policy implementation? They identify
four interacting and simultaneously operating factors: communication,
resources, dispositions and bureaucratic structure.

Critical variables for studying policy implementation


The major findings of representative analytical research on implementation

demonstrate that the scholarship on the subject is diverse, complex and broad.
In this section, we merely identify the key clusters of exploratory variables that
might allow a better understanding of implementation.

1. Understanding implementation in all its complexity

This section is an attempt to describe implementation in all its manifest

complexity before we proceed to sift through the intricacy to develop a
framework of critical variables that affect implementation. As Pressman &
Wildavsky (1973: 13 – 17) realised, implementation is not an easy concept to
define. As a noun, implantation is the state of having achieved the goals of the
policy. As a verb it is a process, everything that happens in trying to achieve
that policy objective. Thus, just because implementation (noun) is not
achieved does not mean that implementation (verb) does not happen.

Consider as an example a general policy to fight against poverty and to bring

about development in Rwanda. After x number of years one may find that
poverty and lack of development are still prevailing and therefore conclude that
the implementation has not been achieved. This may be because the specific
steps prescribed in the policy to achieve a certain goal were newer followed, or
were followed but did not produce the predicted result; or were transformed;
or, most likely, a combination of the above. However, the “process” of
implementation did happen in that the prescribed steps were taken, ignored or
transformed; the subject of this section, them, is implementation (the verb):
what happens after a policy is enacted. Whether this leads to the achievement
of the desired objective is the subject of evaluation (or effectiveness) research.
The two, however, are inextricably linked: to achieve implementation (noun), or
to evaluate its effectiveness, we must first understand the process of
implementation (verb) so that we might influence it.

Central to this chapter’s understanding of implementation is the belief that is

not simply a managerial or administrative problem, it is a political process
concerned with who gets what, when, how, where and from whom. By
definition, then, there are multiple actors. It is unlikely, if not impossible, that
public policy of any significance could result from the choice process of any
single unified actor. Policy formation and policy implementation are inevitably
the result of interactions among a plurality of separate actors with separate
interests, goals and strategies.

Not only is implementation influenced by multiple actors, it also operates at

multiple levels. For example, a national education policy may operate at the
national, provincial and local levels.

3.2.6 Policy Evaluation or Assessment

Systematic policy planning, design and implementation for the purpose of improving
the quality of policy outputs and outcomes, will be to avail if one is able to assess
whether one has meet or hit the intended target s. Assessment or evaluation is
needed on order to whether to continue a policy curtail it, terminate it or expand it .
For the purpose of these notes, the concept of assessment and evaluation will be
used as synonyms. Some authoritative definitions of these concepts include the
- Evaluation determines the value effectiveness of an activity for the
purpose of decision making;
- Policy evaluation is learning about the consequences, policy outcomes,
policy impact (Policy effects);
- Policy evaluation refers broadly to the process of finding out about
public policy in action, the means employed and the objectives being
The key link in the above definitions is that they link policy objectives, means and

Reasons for policy evaluation

Policy evaluation or assessment is normally done undertaken for one or more of the
following reasons:
- To measure progress towards the achievement of policy objectives;
- To test the feasibility of a principle, model, theory, proposal, or strategy;
- To provide political or financial accountability;
- To learn lessons for future policy review, redesign or implementation

3.2.7: Policy dynamics, change, failure and success

Society is a dynamic entity consisting of living organisms with needs, demands and
preference that continually change, develop and grow over the time. In chapter 1 it
was explained that from a systems perspective, public policy is a reaction to
environmental demands for a change in the status quo, as a result of perceived
problems in society that needs an intervention from the government to improve or
eradicate those problems.
It is important to realise that policy change takes place before, during and after
implementation. There appears to be a misconception that policy change only takes
place after policy evaluation. The truth is that policy change takes place throughout
policy life cycle.

Reasons for policy Change

There are a host of reason of reasons for Policy change, as discussed bellow:

• Changing environment
The policy environment is very dynamic, with changes taking place day to day. The
forces in social, political, cultural and technological environment put pressure on
policy makers to make change.
• Changing public opinion

Public opinions shape and influence public policy. Changing values perceptions,
belief, systems and /or patterns of behaviour shape the public opinion. The media is
also a dominant force in shaping public opinion.

• Changes in the demands on the government

Over time, Governments receive new demands from society and these demands put
pressure on the policy makers to bring about changes.

• Change in the resource base

The availability of resource can also dictate changes in public policies. When there is
change in budget, there should be a reset in terms of the policy life cycle especially in
the agenda setting, in the objectives ….

Discussion themes

1. The role of Media in shaping Rwandan public Policy ( Group

2. Factors that influence the agenda setting in Public policy
making process (Group 2)
3. Assessment of the unity and reconciliation policy (Group 3)

4. Assessment of the Rwanda settlement policy (Group 4)

5. Rwandan Public policy making process (Group 5)

6. Analysis or assessment of implementation of

Decentralisation policy (Group 6)

7. The role of Civil society in Rwanda public policy making

process (Group 7)


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