Everyone has a way he/she does his/her things and this speaks a lot
about the person concerned. Pattern of man's activities makes him expectant
and as well predictable by others. In other words, activity begets pattern,
pattern begets expectation and expectation begets prediction.This is also applicable to groups
Every group, be it public or private, endeavours to create a pattern,
understood and acceptable to its components, with a view to ensuring that a
pattern is established and results predictable.
Individuals and organisations don't just make up patterns; it is a result of a
process which must have been subjected to a thorough test and analysis to ensure
confidence and commitment.The process is expected to be efficient as it
naturally influences the potency of the pattern finally adopted.
In any modern society, the government at every level, establishes a
pattern for every course of action through policies. This, ordinarily, is
done in the best interest of the society and with a view to making the best
use of the available resources.
The objective of this article is to share knowledge in the area of
public policy process in order to provoke the interest of all on how
Government business is carried out. It will also reaffirm the significance
of every member of the society in the policy process at relevant levels and
the need to get more involved.
What is Public Policy?
Public Policy is a definite course or method of action selected by
government institutions among alternatives to achieve a given objective
It is usually in the form of laws, regulations, actions and priorities
concerning a given issue.
They are the basic principles by which a government is guided.
Public Policy Process refers to the steps involved in the determination
and choice of a definite course or method of action by a government
institution to achieve a given objective.
Public policy process is a dynamic, continuous, complex, and interactive
system through which public problems are identified and countered by
creating new approaches or by reforming existing approaches (policy).
Public policy is more of how the Government decides to handle a matter.
Public policy environment has both governmental and non-governmental actors.
What are the characteristics of a Good Policy?
Policies must be communicated to and understood by all who are affected
by them; they should be stable and consistent.
Policies must be also consistent within the totality of the entire
system, values and goals, sincere and realistic.
Policies should consider the future and be outcome-oriented
What is the Policy Making Process?
A policy established and carried out by the government goes through
several stages from inception to conclusion.
These stages sometimes overlap each other and there may be additional
It is a process that never really ends.
These are agenda building, formulation, adoption, implementation,
Agenda Setting/Identification of Issues or Problems
Before any policy comes into place, a problem must exist which will
attract the attention of the government. Such problems must be defined and
considered serious enough for government action.
A public problem is a condition or situation that produces needs or
dissatisfaction among people and for which relief or redress by governmental
action is sought.
There must be a prevailing dissatisfaction with the status quo.
Policy formulation and adoption are not automatic; the issue/problem
must first compete for space on the policy agenda.
It usually scales several hurdles inherent in the policy environment.
Criteria for Identifying public problems
Does the problem affect a larger segment of the society?
Do the affected people consider the condition as a problem?
Does the problem indirectly or remotely impact on others?
Can an individual action bring relief?
Will Government intervention be effective?
Will the public accept the Government's intervention?
Is the problem tainted with civil disobedience?
Policy formulation is the development of effective and acceptable
courses of action for addressing issues already on the policy agenda.
Effective - the policy proposed must be regarded as a valid, efficient,
and an implementable solution to the issues at hand.
Acceptable - the proposed course of action must be authorized by the
legitimate decision makers (politically feasible).
Policy formulators need to consider the following:
Whether the proposal is technically sound
Whether it is directed at the problem's causes
How the intervention sought will solve or lessen the problem (outcomes)
Whether it's budgetary costs is reasonable or acceptable
Whether the proposal is politically acceptable
Policy options are considered through comprehensive scanning,
incremental and mixed scanning to arrive at the most viable alternative out
of the proposed options to address the identified problem or challenge.
Factors influencing public policy choice / adoption include the
following: Preference of the society, Party Affiliations (party loyalty,
manifesto, agenda, strength), Constituency Interest, Natural Factors, Public
Opinion (public perception of policy issues), Reverence, Decisions Rules,
Public Interest (number of people to be affected).
Final decision reached may have adopted any of the following decision
making styles: Bargaining (negotiation with peers to harmonize goals);
Persuasion (winning others with facts and skills); Command (superior decisions binding on
subordinates); Majority building (bargaining for numerical strength);
Presidential Decision Making (actions taken for and on behalf of the country
with appropriate approvals).
Policy implementation is defined as 'what happens after a policy is
adopted. Basically it refers to all that needs to be done to carry out what
the Government has decided to do.
Implementation constitutes the action part of the adopted policy and is
critical to policy outcomes. Actors in the implementation process include:
Administrative Agencies; Legislative Oversight; Judiciary through
enforcement of relevant laws on non-compliance; Pressure Groups through
lobbying of Administrative Agencies; Community Organizations - Directly
It is worthy of note that policy implementation is shrouded in
uncertainty because policies sometimes do fail.
This may be due to the following:Political forces that disrupt implementation,
process; Lack of Resources; Communication challenges between policy makers and
policy implementers; Organizational misfits.
Policy evaluation is a systematic process for assessing the design,
implementation and outcomes of public policies. It is the final stage of the
It includes appraisal of policy's content, implementation, goal
attainment and other effects by official and private evaluators. It can
occur at any time in the policy process, it looks backwards and forward as
the case may be.
Usually, policy impacts (policy output and policy outcomes) are
Challenges of policy evaluation include: Uncertainty over policy goals;
Difficulty in determining causality; Diffuse policy impact, - it is
difficult to evaluate unintended impacts; Difficulties in data acquisition;
Time constraint; Lack of influence.
Public policies are the decisions of the Government on any problem or
issue and usually complex as issues may not make it to the agenda.
Understanding of the process will enrich the citizenry and should
provoke active participation.
Every stage of the process is important and policies may succeed or
The good news is that with better understanding of the public policy
process we can influence the process positively, and perhaps differentiate
between whether the Government is slow or the process is complex.