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Defining policy – making (Stages of Public Policy Formulation

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. There are 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:
1. 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
2. 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;
3. 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
4. Policy outputs: This refers to what is actually done in pursuance of policy
statements. It is what governments do to operationalize policy and solve
problems. It is putting policy into action to realise goals.
5. 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