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Introduction The generic administrative functions are affected by several factors which are out of the scope of public administration. Policy making is not an exception among financing, organizing, staffing, proceduring and controlling as other administrative functions. A policy is declaration of intent it is like a road map in that it determines where the policymakers want to go, what they want to achieve and how they want to achieve their goals and objectives. Environmental factors are variables independent or dependant which should be considered whenever policy decisions have to be made. The variables may be internally or externally induced .ln fact it is the place in which policy making takes place.lnfluence can be merely defined as the impact made by a variable on an activity or event .Public policy making is the first step in the policy process.lt involves being aware of a problem or future need, describing the problem, gathering of information and finally stating clearly what has to be done and this is done in form of bills, acts, by-laws and white papers. This assignment is therefore going to specifically look at internally or externally induced variables which have an impact on how finding solution to a future and/or present problem or need can be clearly stated. The main objective of this assignment is to help the reader understand in as simple as possible the environmental factors that affect public policy making but before doing that it is also the aim of this assignment that the reader understands public policy making (as a step in the policy process).This will be made possible by giving special reference to facts,values,perceptions and illusions.M.S Bayat and I.H Meyer(1994:) are of the opinion that, “understanding public policy is both an art and a craft.lt is an art because it requires insight ,creativity, and imagination in identifying them, in describing them,indevising public policies which might alleviate them and then ,in finding out on whether these policies end up making things better or worse.lt is a craft because these tasks usually 1
administration,sociology,law and statistics. With regard to the above, this assignment will be presented with a lot of insight, creativity and imagination and some relevant facts from other disciplines such as political science will be applied so that the reader will find it much easier to understand the factors influencing public policy-making The first section that the assignment will reveal on policy making. The nature and place of policy making in policy process, the enabling function and the three policy making steps shall be discussed under policy making. There after the influence of environmental factors will be systematically discussed .Before rounding up, the role of decision making in policy making will be highlighted taking into account the decision making process, the need for facts and the role of values in decision making. 2. Policy making According to N.L Roux –vol 37 no 4 12- 2002; before attempting to define policy, it should be noted that no administration action takes place if specific goals and objectives have not been set. 2.1 The nature and place of policy making in policy process There are as many definitions of policy as there are authors of policy. A few definitions on policy are given for consideration: • According to Thornhill (1995:54) policy can be defined as: a desired course of action and interaction which is to serve as guideline in the allocation of resources necessary to realize societal goals and objectives, decided by upon by the legislator and made known either in writing or verbally. • • Dye (1995:4) define public policy is what ever governments choose to do or not to do. Fox and Meyer (1995:107) define policy as “authoritative statements made by legitimate public institutions about the way in which they propose to deal with policy problems”. • J .E Anderson (1997:9), defines policy as “a proposed course of action of a person, group or government within a given environment providing obstacles and 2
opportunities which the policy was proposed to utilize and overcome in an effort to reach a goal or realize an objective.” Meiring (2008:30) classified the policy process into three categories or functions thus policy making; policy implementation and policy analysis and-evaluations. He further noted that policy making can also be classified into three consecutive and related steps, thus the policy initiation, policy formulation and approval of policy. According to Cloete (1991:79) as cited in Thornhill et al (1995:55); the functions preceding the announcement of goals and the measures for goal realization are referred to as policy making and the result is a policy which is made known. Policy making in the policy process does not take place in isolation rather policy implementation and policy evaluation-analysis occupy an equally important role in the policy process as the diagram shows below;
1. Policy making
Policy initiation policy formulation policy approval
The presence of policy-making elites, the bureaucratization of roles, the formalization of procedures, and the operation of incentive systems that reward conservatism and punish innovation all contribute to the underutilization non-utilization of information produced by policy analysts William Dunn (1994:418). Meanwhile policy making has not proved to be an issue or problem in the developing countries, Africa in particular but the implementation of policies has somehow proved to be an uphill task. This is evidenced by the recent elections crisis in the eastern placed Kenya and our neighbouring Zimbabwe in which the presidential results are still hanging, fifteen days after the polls. The policies are there but no one is implementing them lamenting the fact that the policies will achieve their objectives.
2.2 Enabling functions These are provisions which make the administrative process happen or achieve the targeted goals and they include policy making, creation of posts and structures, provision of money, provision of personnel, determination of work procedures and finally determination of control measures and standards. These functions are interdependent in that the absence of one will make the administrative impossible for example if money is not availed there will be no progress as inter alia, employees need to be paid.
2.3 Policy making as a process (3 steps) The idea that policy making underlies the fact that it does not take place harphazardly; rather it follows certain interrelated steps thus policy initiation, policy formulation and policy approval. Each of the steps will be now discussed. 4
Policy initiation The term initiation means starting therefore this confers that policy initiation is all about starting the policy process thus the commencements of the activities to make a policy. According to M.H Meiring(2007:30);policy making is aimed at developing the environment and development means change and before development can take place ,the politicians and officials must identify specific development areas.Meiring also stated that initiation relates to; making a problem known; emphasizing the necessity for a new policy or the amendment of an existing policy to satisfy an existing problem or to prevent a potential problem and; submission of suitable policy recommendations/proposals. Policy formulation Policy initiation and policy formulation have been used interchangeably by many and yet the two terms are totally different though interrelated as the former precedes the latter in the policy making process. On almost a similar note “policy formulation” and “policy making” can not be differentiated by many despite the vividly notable difference which is to be clarified. Policy making is a process which involves three steps thus policy initiation, policy formulation and policy approval. On the other hand policy formulation is a step or component in the policy making process.lt involves drafting, putting down the policy proposals or recommendations by the policy makers.Meiring (2007:35) identified various consecutive steps into which the formulation of a policy can be classified and these are; liason withy interested parties; processing information; setting of objectives; determining priorities; considering of available resources and survey of available financial resources. Policy approval Policy approval is the endorsement of the formulated policy for implementation. National policies are endorsed by the head of state; institutional policies are endorsed by the executive heads of department and departmental policies by heads of departments. On 5
approval the policy can become an act, bill or by law which will then be published for implementation.
All public activities should be aimed at achieving a specific goal. The deduction can therefore be made that planning should also be aimed at formulating alternatives and selecting a most suitable way of achieving the broad policy goal. Therefore broad policy goals should be formulated before planning commences (Thornhill, 1995:102).Whereas policy making is a component of policy process among policy implementation and policy analysis it is also an enabling function which makes the administrative functions achievable.lt can be deduced that policy initiation, policy formulation and policy approval are the three important steps of the policy making process.
3. Influence of environmental factors in policy making Depending on the nature and type of the policy to made some environmental factors do have some influence in the whole process and some consideration of these factors have to be taken into account if ever the policy is to serve its ideal purpose. These factors include political culture, social conditions, and economic conditions. Anderson(1997:52) as cited in The Journal of Public Administration-FH Smith ,vol 38 No 3 September 2003:317) argued that political culture and socio-economic conditions are environmental factors which are of cardinal importance in the study of rationality in the policy making process.These factors can now be discussed as follows: 6
3.1 Political culture Political culture refers to the widely held values, beliefs and attitudes on what governments should do, how they should do it and the relationships between the citizens and the government. There are three identifiable political cultures in any political system. The individualistic political culture emphasizes private concerns and views the government as a utilitarian device to be used to accomplish what people want. The moralistic culture views government as a mechanism for advancing the public interest. Governmental intervention in the economy is accepted and there is much public concern about policy issues. The traditionalistic political culture takes a paternalistic and elitist view of government and favors its use to maintain the existing social order. The existence of the above three political cultures in any political system is not an exception in South Africa. The way in which the South Africa citizens views the government’s zeal to accomplish what they want will determine the support they will give for the policies.ln simple terms, the government of South Africa should work closely with the citizens or groups within the citizens if its policies are to be effectively implemented.Nigro and Nigro (1984:21) agued that most problems are not solved by the government though many are acted on by it. The problems with which the contemporary must cope are so complex that often there are no complete or permanent solutions .Governments generally try to create the conditions that permit private individuals and organizations to succeed in their endeavors. 3.2 Social-Economic conditions The term socio-economic is used as it is most of the time impossible to separate social and economic factors and its influence on the political activities. Public policies are the result of conflict among groups and apply especially to regulatory and redistributive policies. Groups that are underprivileged may seek government assistance to improve their situation(Anderson 1997:55).According to The Journal of Public Administration-FH Smith 7
,vol 38 No 3 September 2003:317),the RDP(Reconstruction and Development Programme is one of the proposed plan by government to address conflict among South African groups. Meiring (2007:38) concluded that, “policy decisions cannot be taken arbitrarily
because such decisions will always have a financial implication. Any change in the nature and scope of the public services rendered will stem from a change in policy, which will in most cases, have a financial implication.” The current electricity supply in our own South Africa which is characterized by power outages in all parts of the country has brought more harm than good such that the responsible authorities are spending sleepless nights to work out a sustainable policy for the crisis. Having realized that it can’t afford it and that it needs the money to pay for expanding electricity infrastructure, Government is rethinking its electricity-pricing policy (The Fin Week, p21-20/03-2008).So it is cardinal for the policy makers to consider the financial implications of expanding the current power generating methods. The big question is who is going to fund the expansion program and until when because the policy should solve the crisis once and for all. Meanwhile; The South African Editors Forum (Sanef) has questioned Eskom’s insistence on keeping secret sections of its application for tariff hikes, “Eskom seeks to destroy the public’s right to know about the matters that will significantly increase the cost of electricity”sanef said(Daily Dispatch, Thursday ,10/04/2008) Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) as social groups within the society plays a significant role by identifying problems and suggesting possible factors to be considered when making a policy.” The country’s laws can protect prisoners from rape in jail, but ensuring that it was applied, NGO leaders say. Sexual abuse in detention facilities is “increasingly becoming an issue that demands attention”, Sasha Gear, Senior researcher at the Centre for Study of Violence and Reconciliation (The Herald, Friday 4 April 2008).The problem of rape in prison is a public issue as anyone can be a prisoner if convicted for a crime committed or alleged to have committed even if one is innocent. A big question arises when male rape is common in prison, how do we separate male 8
prisoners? Probably prisoners with same crimes should share the same housing facilities. But still remains, will that stop that kind of rape. The current heated land policy where property ownership provokes a heated debate in and out of Parliament is a major area of concern. “Australia does it. Canada does it. And so do New Zealand Brazil and the United States. But when South Africa it might also like to use it as a policy instrument,” the banana republic” and “foreign investors flee” labels get hauled out. (The Fin week-pg22, 13 September 2007).From these facts it is important that the policy makers of property ownership should not only consider that it worked for other countries but the impact to foreign investors. Where as land is more than just a commodity it needs to be used to protect national heritage in all its forms policies made on it should accommodate foreign investors as they contribute a significant section of the gross domestic product (GDP). D T Jamison and W H Mosley- AJPH,Vol. 81, Issue 1 15-22 advocated that, Health policymakers must engage in undertaking an epidemiological and economic analysis of the major disease problems, evaluating the cost-effectiveness of alternative intervention strategies; designing health care delivery systems; and, choosing what governments can do through persuasion, taxation, regulation, and provision of services.
BT Mossman, J Bignon, M Corn, A Seaton, and JB Gee 19 January 1990: Vol. 247. no. 4940, pp. 294 – 301 in their article argued that asbestos have scientific developments and implications for public policy. The concentration of asbestos fibers in air, type of asbestos, and size of fibers must be considered in evaluation of potential health risks. This in itself reiterates the fact that the intervention in the physical environment must not be overlooked as some of these effects leads to healthy hazards or even loss of human life which must be protected at all cost.
From the above it can be deduced that some social and economic factors are not easy to separate. Meanwhile electricity, land are inter alia some of the critical policy areas in South Africa. 3.3 Legal environment The Expropriation Bill faces a Constitutional Court challenge if "unacceptable clauses" are not sort out (Mail&Guardian-07/04/2008).This was said by Farmers' union AgriSA arguing that the bill poses a threat to property rights. This clearly depicts that all public policies should be constitutional or lawful otherwise the policies will face insatiable challenges and achieve a little success in realizing its goals. Drug misadventuring is defined, applicable public policy issues are identified and analyzed, and recommendations are suggested for reducing the magnitude and scope of drug misadventuring. The extensive use of pharmaceuticals in the United States, as well as the error-prone systems that are responsible for the appropriate preparation and distribution of drugs, has created new challenges for prescribers, dispensers, and users of drugs. The term "drug misadventuring" covers the broad array of phenomena associated with negative drug experiences (Manasse HR Jr- Vol 46, Issue 5, 929-944).Due to globalization, South Africa like United States also faces this "drug misadventuring" challenge which is associated with negative drug experiences. Political culture, socio-economic conditions and legal environment are the common environmental factors affecting the public policy making process.
The role of decision making in policy making Decision making explained
Everyday people; at individual and group level make decisions in their normal courses of life.ln respect of that; few among many people also make decisions in performing their 10
administrative functions. Due the complex nature of administrative functions, the decisions made by the legislature, executive and judiciary have to be time and place bound to effect efficient and effective rendering of goods and services to the public. Meiring (2007:43) cited the following explanations for decision-making: (a) Frankel, J (1963:5): “Decision-making constitutes a process ending in an
act of will of a person or a group of persons who choose between two or more alternatives” (b)Basi,RS (1968:26) : Decision-making is “the process of identifying a number of possible behavior alternatives to achieve a desired objective and choosing one behavior alternative from among them so as to obtain the best results under the circumstances” (c) Banovetz, JM (1971:134):Decision-making is “the process by which an individual or a group of individuals (e.g. a municipal council) chooses among alternatives” (d) Le Breton, PP and DA Henning (1961:7): “A decision is the resolution of conflicting alternative choices. A decision need to involve either action of the future. One can decides that milk tastes better than coffee. This is a decision that involves neither action nor furity” Welsh (1980:62) as cited in DFP du Toit et al (1998:224) proposed that managers use the mnemonic DECIDE to make sound decisions: • • • • • • Define the problem Examine the facts Consider alternatives Include the view of others Decide the course of action Evaluate results
Decision making explained –the need for facts and values The role of values and facts in decision making Values are beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something).Values can be personal, family or core. A fact is a verifiable truth; reality that which is known about a specific subject or situation. lt is something having real, demonstrable existence and the following terms help in understanding and identifying facts; data, information, intelligence, knowledge, lore actuality, event, phenomenon, reality. Decision making is based on considerations of facts and values. Officials will supply to the executive political office-bearer. Values will be determined by the community and must be taken into account by politicians when making decisions. Facts concern concrete ,relatively immutable data, while values can not be accurately measured or assessed and depend on the decision maker’s beliefs about what is “right” or “wrong”(Cloete et al 2006:167).Examples of facts may include; there is electricity crisis in South Africa, 33,033 women attending 1,415 antenatal clinics across all nine provinces, South African Department of Health Study - about 29.1% of pregnant women were living with HIV in 2006.Facts can not be changed though they can be misrepresented so it is important that when the public officials, executive political-office bearers make policies they should consider the immutable data which forms the facts. According to J.E Anderson (1997:30); a well –known sociologist, Robin W Williams, identified a number of “major-value orientations” in the American society. These include individual freedom, equality, progress, efficiency, and practicality. Values such as theseand others, such as democracy, individualism, and humanitarianism- clearly have significance for policy making. Meiring (2007) illustrated diagrammatically that the summation of decisions on facts and values yields a policy. Decision making plays a pivotal role in policy making and in making decisions facts and values should be magnificently taken into account. 12
Conclusion Administrative functions can not be carried out without enabling functions within which policy making falls. Policy making plays a crucial role in policy process by showing what the policy makers want to achieve, how they want to achieve it and under what conditions. Policy initiation, formulation and approval are the three important steps of policy making process. Policy making does not take place in isolation thus it is affected by certain factors taken as environmental factors in this assignment and the discussed are political, socioeconomic and legal factors. Political environment considers values, beliefs and attitudes on what governments should do, how they should do it. The socio-economic environment emphasizes on the notion that public policies are the result of conflict among groups. Decision making plays a pivotal role in policy making and in making decisions facts and values should be magnificently taken into account.
1. Thornhill, C and S.X.Hanekom (1995): The public sector manager.Durban: Butterworths. 2. Meiring, M.H (2007): The Essence of the Public Policy Process (Alice: Department of Public Administration, UFH) 3. DFP du Toit, G van der Waldt, MS Bayat, J Cheminais (1998): Public Administration and Management for Effective Governance.Juta and co ltd 4. Daan du Toit, Gerrit van der Waldt (1999): Public Administration and Management: The Grassroots, 2nd Edition, Juta & co ltd. 5. J.E Anderson (1997): Public Policy Making 3rd edition (Houghton Mifflin, Boston). 6. William Dunn (1994: Public Policy Analysis: An Introduction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. 7. Fox William and Meyer lvan H (1995): Public administration dictionary Juta & Co. 8. M.S Bayat and I.H Meyer (1994): Public Administration: Concepts, Theory and Practice, Halfway House: Southern Book Publishers 9. Bekker, K. (1996): Citizen Participation in Local Government, Van Schaik, Pretoria 10. Cloete .F, .Wissink, H.and C.de Coning (2006): lmproving Public Policy-From theory to practice, Van Schaik, Pretoria 11. F.A Nigro, Lloyd.G Nigro (1984): Modern Administration 6th Edition, Harper and Row Publishers.
1. The Journal of Public Administration- N.L Roux: vol 37 no 4 December 2002 2. The Journal of Public Administration-FH Smith: vol 38 No 3 September 2003. 3. American Journal of Hospital Pharmacy-, Manasse HR Jr Vol 46, Issue 5, 929944(1989) 4. American Journal of Public Health-D T Jamison and W H Mosley, Vol. 81, Issue 1 1522, (1991)
5. Science Journal -BT Mossman, J Bignon, M Corn, A Seaton, and JB Gee 19 January
1990: Vol. 247. No. 4940.
1. Daily Dispatch, Thursday, April10, 2008 2. Mail&Guardian, 07 April 2008 3. The Fin Week, 13 September 2007 4. The Fin Week, 20 March 2008 The Herald, Friday 4 April 2008
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