Stages of Public Policy

The public policy can be divided into four stages as follows:

1) Policy Formulation 

At first, in view of people’s demand or realizing the need of that by the government, itself, the government authorities formulate any policy. After that those policy is announced through various media like radio, television and public speech. The basis of formulating a public policy is: the country, time, situation, geo-political condition, economic and political level of the people and so on. The principles propounded by various scholars on the formulation of public policy are also used. These principles are found to have given emphasis on the factors such as the need to have capacity to face the problem, need to select appropriate alternative after scrutinizing the possible alternatives of the solution of the problems, need to have appropriate adjustment between available means and ends.

Public policy is formulated with a view to serve majority of people’s interests; protect minority of people, maximum utilization of resources, end conflict between classes and raise living standard of people. Among the different stages of public policy, formulation stage is regarded as the first and foremost stage. The sources of public policy are as follows:
  • Voice of people: The voice of people and the constitution of the country, directly or indirectly expressed public desire, slogan, procession, the values directed by socio-religious, cultural, natural conditions, existing tradition are the source of public policy formulation. 
  • Political parities: The organized institutions established with different objectives, pressure groups including political parties, opinion of concerned experts, election and son on are also the sources of public policy. 
  • International trends: The international trends, the economic, political, social policies of neighboring countries, the policies of international multilateral institutions etc. are also the sources that affect the public policy. 
In Nepal as well, legislature, executive, the administrative mechanism of Government of Nepal under delegated power and other constitutional organs basically involve in policy-making. The work of implementation is done by the administrative agencies. A separate committee involving different agencies can do the job of evaluation.

2) Policy Interpretation

There is a possibility that the terms and sentences of the devised policy may denote wrong meaning. To check this, the terms and sentences of the policy statements are interpreted. The policy interpretation may also be called policy analysis. And in policy formulation different classes, scholars and authorities are involved in policy analysis as well. The public policy is affected by different factors. For example, the political principles always affect the government policy. Since public policy is the result of the relation of groups, group formation also affects policy. Similarly, since there is dominance of elite class in the state, the wish of the elite class may also affect public policy.

3) Policy Implementation

In the third stage after policy analysis, there is policy implementation. To use the matters mentioned in policy statement in actual practice is called implementation. Since policy statement is meaningless without implementation. It is equally necessary to give attention on implementation aspect. If the objective is not realized according to policy, policy powers to be a useless slogan. The implementation is usually done through administrative bodies. The degree of the use of resources, inaction or negligence, possibility of success or failure and so on are looked in the implementation stage itself.

4) Policy Evaluation

In the final stage after implementation policy is evaluated. Under policy evaluation, the evaluation of whether policy was implemented in reality or not is made. Likewise, a detail scrutiny is also made regarding the desired impact of the policy, the problem in implementation of policy, and the measures to solve problems. The evaluation is made on the involvement of different bodies on the basis of the seriousness, subject matter and so on of the public policy. Such evaluation may be made by the supreme legislature itself or also by other bodies of the government according to the constitutional provision. The auditor general may make evaluation over the executive. Similarly, evaluation can also be made by forming a committee or commission.

Subject matter of public policy

Under subject matter or public policy, the following headings are included.

i) Policy Making Process 

The policy making process is included under policy analysis. The policy making process is classified under four heads.
  1. Political policy making: The policy is made in accordance of political parties’ commitment during the time of election. The pressure groups such as press, communication, speech section etc. plays a vital role in political policy making. Though, political policy making is formulated by the elected parliament. 
  2. Executive policy: The policy which makes implementation of the general policy made by the existing parliament. To implement the policy formulated by the parliament effectively is the responsibility of executive. Furthermore, the executive can make different policies under main policy.
  3. Administration policy: The policy made on the basis of administrative suggestions is called administrative policy. The efficient persons in the administration implement the public policies. The administrative persons present their opinion and suggestion in the concerned bodies about policy making, implementation, effects on society and the alternatives. 
  4. Technical policy: The policy taken with the works of technical nature is known as technical policy. This policy making and implementation is done by the skilled persons in the technical services.
The political parties, public officials, non-officials and external sources are directly and as well as indirectly involved in policy making.

ii) Policy Contents and Specific Issue Areas

The merits and demerits of different provisions made in the law are explained under this heading. These topics are population, employment, environment, water resources, money, banking, public finance etc.

iii) Policy Analysis, Evaluation and Impact Techniques and Methodologies

After the policy making, implementation is made. Then, impact of public policy on people’s lives is evaluated. The policy-makers and the evaluators use specific methods of techniques. These methods and techniques are operational research methods, mathematical and statistical techniques, logical proof etc.

iv) Particular Approaches to Policy Studies 

The definite methods related to policy study are studied under this topic. Public study means the study of public choice and the study of public output etc. The topics such as the criteria of determining individual and collective rationality are also studied under it.

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