Policy Making

Introduction

US$ 20, 000 for a ticket, US$ 50, 000 to access smaller discussion units away from the main conference, and US$ 60, 000 for accommodation on the lower side. That is the cost of attending the ongoing 43rd World Economic Forum popularly referred to as Davos 2011.

Global leaders in various fields; industry, academia, civil society, government, and the media converge at the Swiss Ski resort during the annual meeting to reflect on, rethink, strategize, explore, find solutions to, and develop policies that shape world agenda. The meeting is one of the occasions when policymaking is a core business of the day. The art of policymaking is a common practice amongst leaders in many organizations whether public or private.

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According to the American Heritage Dictionary (2006), “policy making is; high development more particularly of official government policy’’. Officials in government institutions do develop public policies in order to provide solutions to public issues by means of a political process. Although policymaking is normally a long tedious demanding process, all the steps involved are actually necessary for desirable results to be archived. Policy making conforms to the steps discussed below for a better yield.

Agenda setting

This is the initial step into policy making where an issue of concern and/or to be evaluated by the government is brought up. The issue may be tabled by the government or citizens during consultations with government officials. Such consultations are necessary as individuals can advise on issues affecting them which officials may be oblivious of. If various matters come up to be addressed at this stage, prioritization is done in order to select what to first handle when all cases cannot be addressed at that particular juncture.

Politicians, public officials, and elites should be accountable for their actions to the public and not pursue their personal interests without any constraints. Governments, and any other institutions for that matter involved in decision making process should be transparent and accessible to the public. Any concerns raised by stakeholders are factored in the process and they are offered a chance to freely challenge the decision making process.

Formulation

After setting the agenda described above, possible solutions are then elaborated at this stage. Public demand is taken into account in formulating a solution to the issue and possible available options are carefully weighed out.

Special interest groups such as those whose concerns lie with the environment, business, and human rights, among others are consulted in the formulation process, caution is however taken not to divert from the main objective of the policy for their own purpose. It is understood that since many conflicting interests are involved, there is no one correct solution to the agenda as complex issues need to be solved in a versatile environment characterized by uncertainty.

Decision-making

After all considerations in the formulating process, a final decision is taken by the government amongst the possible solutions floated. There are several possibilities in this decision-making. The government can go ahead with its proposal to the solution, use other counterproposals made by stakeholders, or compromise between the two. The decision can also be to take no action in which case the status quo is maintained.

Implementation

With the final decision made, government officials possibly together with all the stakeholders translate the policy to a concrete action plan by use of substantive policy tools. An entirely new routine sometimes arise from the made decision. In some cases, new regulations are mandated and enforcement procedures developed to allow for the implementation of the policy.

Evaluation

This is the final stage of a policy making process. According to Lindblom (1968), evaluation is, “the systematic assessment and acquisition of information so as to provide useful feedback about some object”. This can be performed by government officials or other parties concern with the policy once implemented.

Formal means of evaluation like data analysis, or informal ones involving citizens’ reaction are deployed in evaluating the policy. Of concern during the evaluation process include among others: the effectiveness and net impact of the policy- that is, a revelation of failures, successes or need for any modifications to be made. In the event of a problem with a particular policy, the policy-making steps begin again.

Conclusion

Commitment to consultations and information is important in enhancing active participation at all levels and should be embraced. This should be taken in good time; at initial stages of policy making process to gather numerous possible solutions and required information. Clarifications on the public’s limit of access to information, citizen’s rights as pertaining to the policy, and procedures for feedback are made.

Adequate material and human resources are allocated to implementing the policy in addition to cross government and public coordination so as to enhance feedback and implementation. Together with promoting active citizenship and evaluation of a policy, transparent, amenable, external scrutiny of a policy making process leads to accountability.

In a nutshell, implementation of all the above steps results in: strengthened public trust in their officials, meeting of societal challenges, and improvement of the quality of a policy.

Reference List

Editors of The American Heritage dictionaries. (2006). The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Lindblom, C. (1968). The policy making process. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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