Public Policies – Daily Times

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Your right to know Monday, October 31, 2022

Syed M HamzaSyed M Hamza

In the realm of policies, according to Mackinac Center, “public policy is best described as the broad area of government laws, regulations, court decisions, and local ordinances”. There is mostly the five-stage model that tends to be the most used one throughout this globe for formulating and implementing policies. The five-stage model involves firstly agenda setting, followed by policy formulation, decision making, policy implementation and lastly policy evaluation by the policy actors.
Policy actors can be policy makers from administrative, judicial or political cadres. Members of NGOs can play their role as policy actors. Media officials also tend to be involved during some stages of policy process. Academics can provide valuable insight through their prowess over a particular subject. Rarely, members of the general public may be part of policy process. Some researchers believe good decision making for a policy should include four steps.
At the first stage, goal of the public policy should be set. Afterwards, different strategies ought to be explored for that goal whilst also considering the repercussions of those very strategies. Finally, the most viable option for the society is supposed to be opted. The decision that was took should then be critically examined during policy evaluation. The ambition behind policy evaluation is not only to see if the policy has been a triumph or not. Araral rightly observes, “organizations and institutions can learn from the formal and informal evaluation of policies”.
Having a holistic approach when public policies are analysed tends to be more beneficial. Therefore, it is worth noting, public policies are implemented differently in various forms of governance. As sometimes consensus may be difficult to be reached amongst policy makers, it can take ample time for policy process in a democratic form of government. However, the policy process in democracy is sustainable in the long run as compared to dictatorship. On the other hand, policy process in dictatorship is the quickest.
As the dictator has the ultimate veto, he or she can take instant decisions. Albeit it is pertinent to mention here, those policies are mostly reversed as soon as democratic form of governance is restored in a country. Public policy process for Monarchy may also be sometimes different as compared to democracy and dictatorship. There are myriad challenges that can thwart the effect of public policy. As data is the new oil, lack of data can pose as a deterrent especially during policy formulation and evaluation.
Resource deficit can take a huge toll during policy process whilst interest groups can also affect the public policy for their own motives. In Martini’s words, “interest groups are associations of individuals or organisations that on the basis of one or more shared concerns, attempts to influence public policy in its favour usually by lobbying members of the government”. The infamous “Sugar Mafia Scandal” shows the vested interests of people from upper strata of the society on policy making.
However, positive role is sometimes also played by the interest groups during policy process i.e., when social activists get involved in process for better human rights policies. The impact of culture on public policies is mostly profound. If the culture of a society does not encourage a certain behavior, then policies cannot have its optimal impact. There are a few steps that may have a positive effect on policy process. Firstly, positive roles of the interest groups should be encouraged by the policy actors.
Public policies must not be omitted during regime change if those policies have a productive result. Institutions ought to be revamped as they can play a pivotal role during policy implementation. For implementation of policies in both letter and spirit, public awareness is crucial. Bi partisanship of policy makers is the essence for good policy making and can have a salutary effect on the society. Amidst the constant evolution of technology, policy evaluation should be done early in case of technical policies.
Allocation of more resources for technology is the sine qua non as technology acts as a catalyst to collect data for policy making whilst also encouraging accountability. Media officials and intelligentsia may contribute by acting as watchdogs of society’s interest. Ensuring tax collection from all the eligible individuals will increase the national resources that may be utilised during policy implementation. That being said, random sampling to get public opinion may also prove to be a valuable commodity when policy is being formulated.
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