Public Administration, Public Policy Making and Policy Analysis

There is no such definition of public policy analysis which is accepted or agreed by all academicians or practitioners, research scholars and other concerned as public administration. So, it means there is no single definition of Public Policy Analysis (PPA), which covers the whole range of the study. The most appropriate way is to define the terms Public, Policy and Analysis separately so as to get the clear concept of PPA.


Public means government. So, the focus or attention of this regard is on the governmental actions, but now activities of private and semi-governmental like corporations also come under the boundaries of the public administration. However, public, here means governmental action. Governmental actions are always complex, interdependent and multifaceted as compared to private. For example, the governmental actions like health and education and agricultural production are interdependent.


Policy is what government says; do or do not do. It indicates the goals or purpose of the government programs. For example, to eliminate poverty, to train human resources etc. Policy is an important ingredient of the programs. Policy cannot be implemented without effective programs.

Policy can be defined as a purposive course of action followed by an actor and factor (government institutions or agencies) or a set of actors while dealing with the problem. Policy without implementation is meaningless.

Policy may be:
  1. Implicit, covert, unstated, latent
  2. Explicit, overt, stated, apparent
1. Implicit Policy: Implicit policies are those policies, which are open to those only who are intimated familiar with programs. Sensitive issues like defense, finance, foreign etc. are the growth of the discipline of public administration.

2. Explicit Policy: Explicit policies are those policies which are open to all the form of constitution, laws, by-laws, rules and regulations, speeches of the leader or top-executive officials in the programs.

Policy (once made is not forever) with the change of time and environment policies have to be changed. Change in policy can be made overtly. Through proposing new policy agenda and taking the responses or opinions of concerned agencies and individual and sometime policies are changed in light of the emergency issues modified to adjust the situation. Sometimes, it may be totally scrapped.

Covertly made like a changes made by a chief executives. For example, policies orientation of the national sports council is to promote sports activity throughout the country whereas during the Panchayet period, the policy orientation was against the actual spirit of the council.


Analysis is the process of evaluating and measuring the impact of any particular policy by using appropriate scientific tools and techniques. They help to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of the impact of particular policy.

Analysis means measuring and evaluating the impact of a particular policy. Analysis demands the application of objective and scientific tools and techniques to assess the impact of policy. The objective is to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the impact of particular policy. Analysis is the concern only after the policy has been implemented. Analysis is to require to know the projected consequences of policy. In addition, analysis is required to measure the impact of a particular policy and also to understand the policy making process.

Another definition of Thomas R states that “Public policy is whatever governments choose to do or not to do.” There is a rough accuracy of this definition.

In its simplest term, policies developed by the governmental bodies and officials (non-governmental actors and factors may of course, influence policy development). According to David Eston, "Public policy stem from the “authority” in a political system, namely elders, paramount important person, chiefs, executives, legislator, judge, administrators, councilors, monarchs, and the like."

Policy without analysis will be like schooling in the darkness

First, public policy is purposive or goal oriented action rather than random or choice behavior is our concern. Public policy in modern political system are not, by and large, things that just happen.

Second, policy consists of course or pattern of actions by governmental officials rather than their separate, discrete decisions. For example, policy involves not only the decisions to enact a law on some topic but also a subsequent decision relating to its implementation and enforcement.

Third, policy is what governments actually do in regulating trade, controlling inflation or promoting public housing, not what they intended to do or say they are going to do.

Fourth, public policy may be either positive or negative in form. Positively, it may involve some form of the government action to affect a particular problem and negatively, it involves a decision by government officials not to take action, to do nothing on some matter or which government involvement is sought.

Lastly, public policy is making never easy; it requires a high sense of responsibility and a willingness to take the initiative as well as to assume risks. There are many other difficulties as well as complete information is unobtainable. The evidence is rarely conclusive; different interest urge different course of action, outcomes are unknown, feedback is irregular, and processes are not properly understood, not even by the participants.

Various types of Policies

Generally, we find six types of policies and they are;
  1. Substantive Policy
  2. Regulatory Policy
  3. Distributive Policy
  4. Redistributive Policy
  5. Capitalization Policy
  6. Ethical Policy
1. Substantive Policy: These are concrete policies which take into account the general welfare and development of the society. It deals with the society as a whole and not with any particular or privileged segments of it. It deals with economic stabilization, education and employment opportunities to all irrespective of caste, color, sex or breed, measures of safety, law and order enforcement, pollution and adulteration eradication etc. in broader term, these policies deals with the stable society living in the inhabitants in a given political system.

2. Regulator Policy: Regulatory policies are those where the trade, business, safety measure, public utilities etc. are regulated by independent organizations having legal personality. These corporations and organizations work on behalf of the government financial autonomy to these organizations. The various example of such organizations or corporations in Nepal are insurance corporations, water supply corporations, electricity authority, transport corporations, financial institutions etc.

3. Distributive Policy: Distributive public policies include all public assistance and welfare programs to society. These differ from the substantive policies as those are for whole of the society but the distributive policies are meant for specific segments of the society. These deal with grant of goods, public welfare and health services. These include policies like sterilization for family planning purpose, vaccination of the children, food relief etc.

4. Redistributive Policy: The prime motive of the redistributive policies is to rearrange the basic programs of the social and economic aims. The rescheduling with the enactment of public policies is made in such a manner whereby the rich have to pay more as taxes in comparison to the poor, certain public goods and welfare services are inappropriately divided among service segments of the society by the distributive policies is also made through the enactment of redistributive policies.

5. Capitalization Policy: Capitalization policies are different than other policies. Under these policies, subsidies are given by the central government to the regional, districts and local level authorities. Sometimes subsidies pertaining to some other important spheres, are also given by the central government. Policies regulating such like issues are known as capitalization public policies.

6. Ethical Policy: Moral and ethical values of the citizens play a significant role in shaping the destiny of a nation. It is not the gold and silver which make the country great but it is always a human beings which establish the greatness of their country by virtue of certain ethical principles. Ethical public policy is separate category from the regulative policies of law and commerce. It is well known fact that corruption is rampant these days and it won’t be wrong to say that is at its peak now. The major reason for it are lack of effective public opinion, improper education and awareness among the masses.

Policy Implementation

Often the policies require some action of execution and implementation. The implementation process has certain activities working within it such as issue and enforcement of directives, funds instruments, loans and grants sanction, gathering and assigning on information, roles and duties assignment among the personnel engaged in implementing.

Administration or Bureaucracy

Most of the activity surrounding policy implementation takes places within administrative or bureaucratic agencies. The implementation of policies is largely done by the bureaucrats as they have control over the resources and legal powers of the government though the bureaucrats and the officials are supposed to carry out the policies on the lines told by the political executives but bureaucrats use their own discretion in implementing a policy decisions. Hence administrative agencies are the primary implementer of public policy. Many other actors may also be involved and they are the legislature, court, pressure groups and community organizations. They may often directly involved in policy implementation or act to influence administrative agencies, or the both.

The Legislature

The administration and implementation of public policy is also made by the legislature. If the policy initiated in the legislature is enacted by the legislature in full details, it would leave little choice with the administrative agencies and bureaucrats for implementing it in their known way. It sounds more logical in democratic political system that the policy should be discussed and questioned in detailed manner by the duly elected representatives of the people. But in actual practice, the work load of legislature has increased upto such an extent that they normally not find enough time, technical expertise to deliberate on these issues.

The Court

The court also implements some of the policies. Normally, it happens when policy is not clearly worded or different interpretation of a policy could be taken up. In such cases, the court gives its verdict and whatever is decided, the court is normally considered final unless the legislature again legislates on that.

Interest Groups

Since the legislature through delegated legislation leaves certain point to be filled in the broad framework of the policy by the administrative agencies, the group struggle shifts from the legislative to the administrative areas. Therefore, when interest groups face unsuccess at the time of policy making, the legislature exercise their influence over the administrative agencies for implementation of those points in the manner which suits the interest of these groups.

Community Organization

Communities have sometime been used for the administration of the government programs. Most common examples are; farmers committees for water, soil conservation, forest conservation etc. Such agencies are also considered important means of enlisting or encouraging people’s participation so as to strengthen the involvement of local people particularly unorganized group. In short, a variety of participants affects the administration of a given policy.

Decision Making

“Decision making is a bridge between thought and action. It is a course of action consciously chosen from among the available relevant alternatives for the purpose of achieving desired objectives.” Manager sometimes see decision making as their central job because they must constantly choose what is to be done, who is to do it and when and where and occasionally even how it will be done. Thus, the power to make decision has been correctly identified with the power to manage.

There are three types of decision which may generally be necessary in organizational settings and they are;
1. Policy decision: They set forth goals and lay down principles covering the conduct of organization.
2. Administrative decision: They translate policies into action and determine means to be used.
3. Ad hoc decision: They are made as and when necessary basis wherever particular cases come up at the point where the job is carried out.

Rationality and Decision Making

Complete rationality can never be achieved, particularly in the area of managing. First, decisions are not for the past but for the future, and the future almost invariably involves uncertainties. Secondly, all the alternatives that might be followed to reach a goal can hardly be recognized, particularly true to do something that has not been done before. Moreover, not all alternatives can be analyzed even with the newest available analytical techniques.

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