Public policy is a course of action that the government adopts in dealing with a problem or issue in the country. Public policies are legal and based on law, however, people other than legislators formulate and implement them. Public policy is the set of actions taken by the government in order to improve the quality of life of the public. People’s representatives from the respective areas are responsible for identifying the problem in their areas, and bring it to the notice of concerned authorities for making the public policies to address the issues. In the United States, public policies at federal level are meant to protect its citizens at home and abroad, to assist state governments, assisting people through different welfare programs, regulate industry and business and encourage social harmony among the people of the country. Formulation of a public policy is a complete course of action and each public policy goes through different stages from inception to the making of the policy. The stages of formulation of a policy include the agenda building, formulation of policy, adoption and implementation of policy, its evaluation and termination.
First stage is the public policy formulation is the agenda building. There must be a problem on which the policy can be formulated. The problem is brought to the attention of the government, after it crosses a certain threshold. When the problem grows beyond the allowed limits, there arises the requirement of a public policy to tackle the problem. The policy makers address the issue or a specific problem after it has occurred, such as legislation on fighting the terrorism was formulated after the 9/11 attacks of 2001. Second stage is the policy formulation and adoption where the policy makers come up with an approach to solve the problem. In the process of formulation, the executive branch, the interest group and the courts are involved. Different proposals are proffered by the government benches and opposition members, therefore, policy formulation is a tangible outcome. The bill goes before the congress and the concerned agency proposes the draft rules. The policy is adopted when congress passes the legislation. The third stage is the implementation of the policy by the concerned institutions. A broad outline of the policy is given and the rest of the rules and regulations are finalized by the concerned agencies or departments. The implementation stage is the enforcement stage of the public policy, and the reaction to the public policies is common at this stage. The public policies sometimes are not welcomed by the majority of the public, and the public initiates a strong reaction as a result of implementation of a specific policy. After implementation, there comes the stage of evaluation and termination. Evaluation is a test of the policy formulated and an assessment of how well the policy is working. It is difficult to assess the success or otherwise of the policy in shorter duration after implementation of the policy. In order to find the answer, governments use the cost-benefit analysis. It determines the money spent is worth the benefits achieved. Once implemented, termination is a difficult option till the time it brings out the desired advantages. Policies terminate only after they become obsolete, and fail to deliver the desired results. Sometimes, when policies lose the interest of interest groups, they are terminated as they no more accrue the wanted objectives of those groups.
Public policy is formulated for the welfare of the people and is designed to make the people’s lives comfortable. Public policies that do not facilitate people and instead create hurdles for the routine public life, are destined to be terminated. A public policy is declared successful if it achieves the desired objectives with no fail.
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US History. Policy Making: Political Interactions. American Government online Textbook. 2014
How Governmental Policy is made? Michigan State University. 2005.