Policy-Making Process: Initiation, Agenda Building, Formulation, Adoption, Implementation, Evaluation and Termination

Policy-Making Process: Initiation, Agenda Building, Formulation, Adoption, Implementation, Evaluation and Termination


The policy process refers to the methods, conditions, procedures, activities, interactions and stages by which policies are made. It refers to how policies come about or are made and what is involved in the processing of policies from problems identification to the policy outcome.

In this site, details of the stages of policy making like agenda setting, policy formulation and adoption, implementation, evaluation and termination or reformulation are given.


Policy – Making Process

There are several stages in the establishment and carrying out of a policy by the government. These include agenda building, formulation, adoption, implementation, evaluation and termination.


Policy Initiation/ Agenda Building

In order to create a policy, the government’s attention has to be focused on a pressing problem requiring legislation. For instance, rivers and streams periodically overflow causing great loss to property and life.

Further, winds and rains erode the land and rob it of its fertility. A social demand then arises for taking some action regarding the control and development of river valleys, and the conservation of natural resources.

Thus the legitimate public business comprises the agenda of the state.

Again, for example, strife between labor and management may disrupt essential services or raise the cost of living. People may then demand the establishment of social machinery for preventing costly work stoppages and for promoting harmonious labor management relations.

In modern times, juvenile delinquency shows a tendency to increase.

Hence people look out for ways of diverting the energies of the youth into healthy and useful channels. The agenda of the state thus includes the things that government has to do in order to maintain a vital community. Thus, before a policy can be created, a problem must exist that is called to the attention of the government.

Policy Formulation and Adoption

Policy formulation involves adoption of an approach for solving a problem. In other coming up with an approach to solving a problem.

There may be choice between a negative and a positive approach to a problem. The legislative branch, the executive branch and the courts may favor dependence on impersonal forces to correct momentary difficulties. However interest groups may desire vigorous human interference with these forces to control persistent difficulties. Either of these approaches involving the formulation of policy. After a policy is formulated, a bill is presented to the National Assembly, or proposed rules are drafted by regulatory agencies. The adoption of a policy takes place only when legislation is passed, or regulations are finalized or a decision has been passed by the Supreme Court.


Policy Implementation

Policy implementation is the process of translating policy mandates into action, prescription into results and goals into reality. It refers to the processes and reality. It refers to the processes and activities involved in the application, effectuation and administering of a policy. It is the actions taken to carryout accomplish and fulfill the intents, objectives and expected outcomes of public policies. It is the act and process of converting a policy into reality and of enforcing a policy. Meanwhile, the implementation process consists of the implementing organization, the environment particularly the political and economic environment, the policy target group, the objectives and the enunciated method o implementation and policy resources.

The carrying out of policy or its implementation is usually done by other institutions than those that were responsible for its formulation and adoption. Many problems are technically so complex and difficult that the legislature does not try to deal with them in detail. The legislature thus indicates the broad lines of policy, and leaves the elaboration of the policy to other governmental agencies. The complexity of the policy, coordination between the agencies putting it into effect and compliance, determine how successfully the policy is implemented.


Evaluation and Termination

After the implementation, stage, performance appraisal comes up which is done through evaluation. The essence is to know how well a policy is doing in relation to intended purposes, objectives target and intended accomplishments. It relates to whether intended services have been delivered, intended outcome or other desired and state is achieved, or whether the target problem or situation has experienced the desired changes. Performance answers the question of how the policy has fared in its interaction with the environment. The degree of achievement of the aforementioned aspects, determines the level of performance.

Performance encompasses effectiveness and efficiency. Evaluation involves checking how well the policy is working out, which is definitely a difficult task. The cost-benefit analysis is used by people inside and outside government to determine whether government expenditure on a particular program, is justified by the benefits derived from it. Further, different or also contradictory interpretations may be obtained from the data that forms the basis of the cost -benefit analysis.

History has shown that once implemented, policies are difficult to terminate. When they are terminated, it is usually because the policy became obsolete, clearly did not work, or lost its support among the interest groups and elected officials that placed it on the agenda in the first place.

We have seen the logical sequence of stages of policy making processes beginning with the identification of a given problem, followed by public and government awareness of the problem known as agenda setting, which leads to the development of various courses of action to solve the given problem known as policy formulation, which is followed by governmental adoption and legitimization of a given course of course of action, resulting in the implementation of the adopted course of action, which then leads to a policy evaluation to determine if the objectives of the course of action are being achieved, and finally the cycle comes full circle when new problems are identified resulting in policy modification or termination.

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