C O O P E R AT I V E
U N I V E R S I T Y O F K E N T U C K Y • C O L L E G E O F A G R I C U LT U R E
Public Policymaking in America
Jerri Cockrel, Extension Public Policy Specialist
policymaking process, opponents follow a series of steps that parallel those of the policy advocates: • Emergence of opposition, • Formulation of a counterproposal, •Identification of authorities, • Presentation of counterproposals, • Expansion of the opposition, and • Presentation of the proposal.
Final Stages in the Policymaking Process
The final stages in the policymaking process are (1) authoritative decision, (2) implementation, and (3) evaluation. Authoritative Decision. Once a public issue (problem) reaches the formal agenda, the relevant governmentauthorities deliberate and then make a final decision. Numerous outcomes are possible: the authorities can adopt the advocates’ proposal, the opponents’ counterproposal, or a compromise; or they can refuse to take action and thereby preserve the status quo. Implementation. After the formal decision has been made, established (or newly created) government entities implement the decision. A new routinemay result from the decision; new regulations may be mandated; and enforcement procedures may be developed. Evaluation. After a new policy is implemented, advocates, opponents, or other “interested parties” begin to consider the consequences of the decision and its implementation. At this point, the final stage of the policymaking process has begun. Either through formal means such as data analysisor through informal means such as citizen reaction, evaluating a policy reveals its success, failure, or the need for modification. If a problem is observed in a particular policy, the “stages” begin again.
Public policymaking is difficult to describe. The process is obscure, at best, and at its worst it seems underhanded. This is the nature of politics, and politics for many people hasnegative connotations. You do not have to appreciate politics — perhaps it is even better to be critical or at least wary of it — but you do have to understand it to teach public policy education. Why learn how public policy is made? Before we can educate people about an issue, we have to know who needs to be educated about a particular issue and whether the time is right. We also need to anticipateresource needs and give ourselves enough time to choose a suitable teaching method. Understanding how public policy is made can give us precious lead time and it can help us decide when not to attempt public policy education. We can make public policymaking easier to understand by breaking the system into parts small enough to study. By understanding the pieces, it is easier to understand the whole.Another way is to cut out the details and look only at the structure, or the main activity, to see how the system operates; then, we try to add details.
“We can make public policymaking easier to understand by breaking the system into parts small enough to study. By understanding the pieces, it is easier to understand the whole.”
Modeling is a modern word that describes these methods ofgaining analytical power. Policymaking models are simplified descriptions of complex, real-world events that highlight significant features of political life and thus clarify events that might otherwise be obscure or confusing. These models on the policymaker’s formal agenda. If the preceding sequence of activities has been accomplished, the groundwork for this final stage has been laid, and the chancesof a successful outcome for the advocates will have been maximized.
Activities of the Opponents
This model is unique because it recognizes the important role that opposition forces play in making public policy. Arising at any stage of the
A G R I C U LT U R E • H O M E E C O N O M I C S • 4 - H • D E V E L O P M E N T
Stages of Decision-Making — Model #1
“Triangle and Clusters”...