The process of making public policies is essential and at the same time sensitive because although it is carried out by the government through its various bodies, it affects a majority of people. Public policy entails the process taken by the government in addressing an issue that affects the public and the intentions of the government in taking the actions. It is the outcome of the government’s actions towards deciding on who gets what after some considerations.
The public policy takes various forms for instance regulations, laws, actions and decisions aimed at controlling a certain behavior or solving a problem that is either caused by or affects the public. The major concepts associated with policy making are; the policy, the participants and the problems at stake.
The problem in this case involves the issue that needs to be addressed by the policy while the participants are individuals, organizations and groups that are significant in the formation of a plan and strategies that are aimed at addressing or dealing with the specific problem at stake. They are involved in the presentation and interpretation of the problems as well as making decisions on the steps to be followed in solving the problems.
The policy is usually the final result or course of action that is decided upon by the government although it is more often than not open to interpretation or scrutiny by other agencies for instance non governmental organizations, private bodies, religious organizations, the media and even political parties. This paper looks into the public policy concept including the policy making process and the categories of policies.
It also discusses in details the influence of the legislative bodies, leadership, bureaucracy and the justice system on the formulation and implementation of public policies for example on aspects like education, health , social welfare, crime and foreign issues with much insight being given to the education policy. It also looks into the influence of other entities like interest groups, political parties and the media on public policy formulation and implementation as well as how they interrelate (Venus, 2010).
Background Information and Specific Example
The public policy concept is not new and it has been there for years. The study of public policy can be traced in the early twentieth century (1922) when a political scientist by the name, Charles Merriam wanted to determine the relationship between the theoretical concepts of political science and their practical application in the real world.
The problem in question involved the healthcare department in America where it was realized that the policies governing the health care operations were ineffective. The Clinton administration therefore took the responsibility of discovering a solution to the problem by implementing a policy that would promote an efficient and effective health care structure. The participants in the policy formulation were inclusive of the politicians and lobbying associations.
The healthcare policy was aimed at helping the American federal government in meeting the various issues associated with health care provision for instance, it would ensure that consumers attain their health care rights at all times and without discrimination, the medical and other staff involved in the health care provision would be required to offer just and quality healthcare services and the consumers would be in a position to form associations through which they would be able to voice their grievances in unison and hence attain access to better healthcare at affordable prices.
The policies promoted by the Clinton administration were however not successful as they were not implemented due to political discrepancies irrespective of the changes made to the health care provisions by legislators and other bodies (Birkland, 2010). The public policy concept is however a relatively new concept in the political science field and came about due to the realization that the traditional analysis of government activities and decisions were inefficient.
The evolution in society has also necessitated the awareness of the concept of public policy as the relationship between society and different public institutions become complex and more self-regulating necessitating the urge for an all-inclusive assessment of the whereabouts of the government in regard to what it do, the decisions made, how they are implemented and the criteria used in choosing of one policy over the other.
From this information we can make a conclusion that the process of policy making and implementation is very involving and its success depends upon a lot of factors that should be well coordinated because failure of one them leads to the ultimate failure of the whole process which could have used up a lot of resources for example time and finances (Gerston, 2004).
Policy Making Process
The general components of a public policy include the issues that are to appear on the public agenda for example in the education field; the issues could be the attendance and graduation aspects, fees issues and the curricula.
The other component is the actors in the policy making process who are involved in the presentation, interpretation and making decisions regarding the issues, the social, economic and political resources affected by the issues, institutions that handle the issues and finally the levels of government that are involved in dealing with the issues (Gerston, 2004).
Coming up with policies whether private or public policies takes time and procedures are followed before the process is considered through and successful.
The participants in the policy making process should under all circumstances put the needs of the community or citizens at the front line so as to ensure that the policy will be easily accepted and hence comfortably implemented. The individuals concerned come together and decide on the way they will go about setting rules and regulations to govern their activities.
Generally, the process of policy making involves three steps although there are chances of alterations for better results. These include setting the agendas, formulating various options that can be considered in solving the particular problem, and finally implementing the option thought to be the best in providing the solution to the problem. It is in the agenda setting phase that the participants for example the government officials and agencies come together and discuss in details the problem at stake.
The second phase of the policy making process which is the option formulation stage entails coming up with a variety of solutions and after discussion and considerations of the impacts the solutions may make, a final resolution regarding the best policy to be taken and implemented is made. The final phase entails the implementation of the policy that has been decided in the second phase (Andrew, 2004).
Classification of Public Policy
Public policies can be categorized into various groups according to their characteristics for instance purpose, where they can be categorized on needs, prosperity, membership and security.
They can also be classified on types for instance distributive, self regulatory, regulatory and redistributive and finally based on the goods involved which can either be private or collective. The government is responsible for the provision of security towards the lives, properties and liberties of the citizens by safeguarding them from both internal and external threats.
This may be achieved through the implementation of national defense, foreign and crime policy which in one way or another aims at establishing order and protecting the citizens from each other or from foreigners through prevention of crime and punishment of offenders or criminals.
Membership is another purpose of the government where it determines the people to be considered as members of the society or citizens and hence determine the rights and responsibilities accrued to them as opposed to the non members. Prosperity can be achieved through the efforts of the government and other bodies to manage the economy and the provision of proper social and legal infrastructure necessary for promotion of economic growth and development.
The government is also responsible for the act of helping its citizens to meet their needs especially in some areas that are deemed important for the growth and development of the citizens’ welfare. One of the key areas where the government is responsible for meeting the needs of its people is in the education sector where it supposed to facilitate the education process.
This can be through funding of the elementary, secondary and even higher education and ensuring that quality education is offered. The governments usually steps in situations where private efforts are not adequate in the satisfaction of the basic citizens’ needs for example in health care and other needs provision. Distributive policies entail the process of allocation of benefits by the government to certain portions of the population.
The benefits take various forms for instance subsidies in the costs of products and services or even direct provisions of services for example in schools or in health care facilities. The regulatory policies on the other hand impose restrictions on individuals, groups and organizations reducing the liberty of decision making and action by setting up rules to be followed for instance education and criminal justice laws.
The self regulatory policies are almost the same as the regulatory policies the difference being that the individuals, groups or organizations governed by the policies have got a higher degree of authority and discretion in the formulation and implementation of the regulations that govern them.
Self regulatory policies are mostly used by professions for example teachers and engineers in making their codes of ethics and governing the schools that produce the professionals. Politics is involved to a great extent in the formulation and implementation of the redistribution policies. This is because the policies entail both the allocation of services to the population and the taxation of others so as to generate the finances used in the provision of the services to the needy.
These are polices that aid in meeting needs and guaranteeing equal membership among the citizens. The final classification of public policy is the collective goods and the private goods. Collective goods are the public goods that cannot be divided but provided to everybody for instance national security, pollution free environment and control in the transport and communication sector.
The private goods on the other hand are allocated selectively, given to some while the rest are left out. The distribution and redistribution policies are the most applicable in these goods allocation.
The allocation is selective as peoples needs are not considered to be the same for instance according to academic performance, some students automatically qualify to the best state universities while others could only secure places in other colleges that are less prestigious (Cochran, et al., 2008).
Education is a very critical aspect in every nation a sit is usually the source of all concepts of creativity, invention and innovation. It is a concept of public interest as the benefits accrued to education either in an individual or a group of people is usually considered as a benefit to the society at large as the services provided by the educated people are usually of benefit to the whole community.
For example when a person pursues education and qualifies as a doctor or medical practitioner, he or she becomes a resource to the community by providing the medical services to the patients.
In my research work, I have chosen to deal on the education policy as the case study public policy and look into how some entities likes interest groups, political parties and the media may influence its formulation and implementation. The legislative bodies, leadership, bureaucracy and the justice system influence on the education policy’s formulation and implementation will also be discussed.
The education policy is a public policy that is involved on the practical consequences of educational decisions and alternatives in the education field. It brings together the best education theory gained through research and the reality experienced in the world of practice.
It is therefore a major resource to various people in the education sector for example teachers, researchers, administrators, students and general policy makers. It entails aspects like curriculum issues, attendance, graduation, fees structures, testing criteria, education infrastructure, budgetary allocations literacy levels among others (Trowler, 2003).
Case study: The United States
Education in the United States of America is given a lot of importance and is subject to social, political and economic forces. It is viewed as a tool that brings about social order in the nation as people are able to reason well in all matters pertaining to life when they are well educated. This is because education equips people with adequate skills and knowledge in a variety of life aspects and fosters creativity, invention and innovation.
Education touches on almost all aspects of the society and therefore changes in the needs and requirements in the society are likely to necessitate changes in the education system for instance changes in technology will require changes in the curricula so as to incorporate technological aspects in learning. Most of the elementary schools, secondary schools and elite colleges in the United States are privately owned and do not involve the government.
However the government is involves in the activities of most private and public higher education colleges and universities. The education policy is essential because incase of any need for change in the society for instance in economic or ecological aspects the education system acts as the main tool or means through which the changes can be effected.
There was a lot of pressure in the American education system to incorporate the changes that took place in the twentieth century. The American education policy in an effort to integrate the changes in the global world makes it a requirement for everybody to acquire education with more emphasis to access to education and equality in the education provision.
The education policy is expected to ensure that all the education institutions are effective in provision of quality education and also in the utilization of the resources offered to facilitate the education process. The American education policy is governed by three basic values which are efficiency, liberty and equality.
Access to and equality in education is advocated by the American education policy through judicial systems where courts ensure that the federally agreed civil rights are provided without the control of the state or other local policies. There should be equal financing and equal education opportunities irrespective of the differences in the students for example race. Special education is also an aspect of concern and ensures that those students with physical or mental disabilities or other special needs also have access to quality education.
The United States international educational policy advocates for internationalization of education by making it as broad as possible for instance through the encouragement of students from other countries to study in the United States and also the study of the United States’ students in other countries, enhancing the education infrastructure to facilitate education, and encouragement of the learning of foreign languages cultures in learning institutions in America.
The changes in the American education policy has been influenced by many parties like bureaucracy, the justice system, political parties and the government and the end result has been the achievement of accountability in the education system that has in return led to improved performances in schools, effectiveness in schools, increased teachers productivity, performance financing, enhanced testing, organizing efficiency, outsourcing among other factors that enhance the general education system (State university, n.d).
The Influence of the Legislative Bodies, Leadership, Bureaucracy and the Justice System on the Formulation and Implementation of Public Policies
The public policy process is complex and time consuming. It involves a lot of aspects and its success depends upon the proper coordination and incorporation of ideas from all the parties involved. It takes into account the opinions of the media, expert attitudes, judges, citizens, bureaucrats, business and other organizations’ leaders, and most importantly the public opinion among others.
The process of policy making requires the utilization of political resources, favorable economic state and international conditions and also conducive cultural attitudes (Moran, Rein, and Goodin, 2006).
The formulation and implementation of public policies receive great influence from the government bodies for example the legislature, judiciary and executive ( presidents, governors and mayors) as well as other non governmental agencies as depicted by the institutional model of public making process.
The executive part of the government especially the head of state takes the first step in making sure that some public policies either pass through or are rejected depending on the benefits the policies are expected to bring to the citizens and the nation at large.
The bureaucracy being part of the executive has the duty of implementing the policies that have been developed by the congress and the president and therefore it has got some impacts in the policy making process. The administrative agencies also have their influences in the policy making policy as they enforce their conditions and restrictions in regard to the manner in which the administration the policies is handled. The justice system particularly the courts are also involved in public policy formulation and implementation.
The courts for example have made it a requirement for the state and local governments to be responsible in undertaking certain steps for instance in relation to school funding, corrections and management as well as school integration and imposition of taxes. In some instances, the courts take up the positions of administrators in schools and prison system and hence influence the implementation of the particular policies in the institutions (Bryce, 2005).
The education policy for instance is a policy that touches on crucial aspects of the economy and has to be deeply scrutinized before it is passed or implemented to ensure that it advocates for the best education systems that in the long run produces the best results. Funding in education is usually a major issue that should be given a lot of weight in the education policy formulation and implementation.
Different bodies like the government, the justice system and even non governmental organizations must take place in one way or the other in facilitating an efficient and effective educational system especially in terms of funding. Cost barriers are a major limitation towards people’s ability to pursue education and succeed (Usher, 2005).
The education policy should ensure that everybody has the access to basic education and also a majority of the population is able to pursue education to the highest level possible by coming up with strategies for funding education activities. One way may be through taxation where those that are well off financially pay taxes that are used to support the less fortunate or those who are not capable of facilitating their own education.
Another way of ensuring that the education system or process is cost effective is the incorporation of aspects from both the public and the private sectors to ensure that the quality of education attained is equivalent to the costs undergone. Administration is another key concept in the education process and there should be close supervision and monitoring of all the agents that facilitate education.
The government should also ensure that there is strict regulation of all the activities that take place in the education process for instance, it should make sure that the delivery system is efficient and effective and also regulate the markets to ensure that the curricula taught in schools produce students that are competent in the real world to avoid frustrations and disappointments that could be brought out when the students finish their education programmes only to be incompetent in the job markets( Mwikisa, 1999).
Legislative bodies, leadership, bureaucracy and the justice system have got a lot of influence on the formulation and implementation of public policies for instance the education policy.
They all take part in the policy making process and there should therefore be a lot of coordination as all the parties have their differences in terms of interests and their interests must be brought together and tailored towards the interest of the public. A disagreement or conflict between or among the parties bring about the production of an effective policy, delay in production or even failure of the whole process.
The Influence Of Other Entities Likes Interest Groups, Political Parties And The Media On Public Policy Formulation And Implementation As Well As How They Interrelate.
As discussed earlier, public policy is created by governments in consideration of the public interest and is based on processes that involve both political patterns and social participation. There are different entities that are involved in one way or the other in the process of public policy formulation and implementation through the influence they impose on the process. The public is involved, either directly or indirectly, in making decisions that address issues that affect the society.
The public opinion is very essential for example the constituents have lots of power and makes up the majority of the American population. The public influence the process of policy making through voting which establishes the positions of the politicians involved in public policy formulation and implementation.
Their needs such as education opportunities, job opportunities, and healthcare facilities are taken care through particular policies that deal with the specific needs for example the education policy that handles educational issues. Different interests groups affect the process of public policy making as they would want the interests of the public to be considered or favored by the policy when it is implemented.
Special interest groups act as a means through which the population may voice their needs especially where the constituent population is not able to effectively have an influence on the policies formulation and implementation. The interest groups work by voicing the needs of the population and making them well known to the politicians so that they can consider them in the policies’ formulation and implementation.
They improve people’s decision making and support policies that are in favor of the citizens’ needs and inhibiting policies that are in favor of politicians or the governing bodies. Politics for instance has a great stake in the public policy process. This is because politics deals with public issues since it is the process through which the communities or citizens are able to organize and regulate themselves in an orderly manner.
Political parties are not left behind in the public policy formulation and implementation. They influence the process by advocating for enactment of platforms that encompass a wide range of issues. The political parties may act solely or conjunction with interest and lobby groups and work by bringing together individuals and making them aware of their needs and concerns in regard to public policies (Spiker, 2009).
The media is another critical element that influences the formulation and implementation of public policies. This is done through information dissemination. The media acts as a dissemination tool of information which is very essential in the process of making public policies.
The media agencies acts as intermediaries by providing essential information regarding political, social and economic issues to the state, business organizations, nongovernmental groups and the society at large. It therefore shapes the public opinion in regard to public policy and political socialization through the information and news it provides via television, the internet, radio, newspapers and other sources (Stromberg, 2002).
The interest groups, political parties and the media must cooperate in all the activities that are aimed at establishing and implementing a public policy for the process to be successful.
They should for instance agree on curriculum issues, fees structures, testing criteria, education infrastructure, budgetary allocations literacy levels among others issues that are associated with education before an education policy is established and implemented. A conflict among any of them will lead to either a delay in the process or total failure of the implementation.
The issue of public policy making is a very sensitive aspect and should therefore be carried out objectively and in a rational manner avoiding any form of influence in terms of personalities, political relationships and personal interests. Objectivity is the only way that will ensure that the policy making process is successful and effective from the start to the final implementation.
Public policy affects each and every citizen in a variety of ways either directly or indirectly through its influence on activities for instance handling of crimes, educational matters, health care among others. Different stakeholders should take part in facilitating the formulation and implementation of public polices as they are of public interest and everybody benefits from the policies in one way or the other.
The government for instance should not be wholly responsible for provision of education to the population but should incorporate other parties to avoid negative effect on the quality of education which can be brought about by the decline in public resources due to their high demand. It should concentrate on administration and regulation while other parties for example the private sector provide other services.
Andrew, D. (2004). Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy. USA: InfoBase Publishing.
Birkland, T. (2010). An Introduction to the Policy Process: Theories, Concepts, and Models of Public Policy Making.3rd ed., New York: M.E. Sharpe.
Bryce, H.J. (2005). Players in the Public Policy Process: Nonprofits as Social Capital and Agents. USA: Palgrave Macmillan.
Cochran, E.C et al. (2008). American Public Policy: An Introduction. USA: Cengage Learning.
Gerston, L.N. (2004). Public Policy Making: Process and Principles. New York: M.E. Sharpe.
Moran, M., Rein, M., and Goodin, E.R. (2006). The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy. USA: Oxford University Press, 2006
Mwikisa, C. N. (1999). Social / Private Benefits and Costs of Education, Policy Implications for Financing Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.fiuc.org/iaup/esap/publications/zambia/social1.pdf
Spiker, S. (2009). Power Players of Public Policy: The Basics of Politics. Retrieved from: http://www.suite101.com/content/power-players-of-public-policy-a92345
State university (n.d.).United States Educational Policy – The Basics of Educational Policy, The Pressure for Reform in American Education, Defining Policy. Retrieved from http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1937/Educational-Policy-United-States.html
Stromberg, D. (2002). Mass Media Competition, Political Competition, And Public Policy. Retrieved from http://www.restud.com/pdf/stromberg.pdf
Trowler, P. (2003). Education Policy, 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge.
Usher, A. (2005). A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing: How Perceptions Of Cost And Benefits Affect Access To Education. Retrieved from http://www.educationalpolicy.org/pdf/littleknowledge.pdf
Venus, D. (2010). What Is Public Policy? Retrieved from