FROM : BSS/41/17
Public policies are as old as governments whether is the form of oligarchy, monarchy, aristocracy, tyranny and democracy (Dye, 2012). Whenever and wherever governments existed, public policies would be formulated and implemented. To deal with the different troubles and demands of the individuals the government has to generate some policies and these policies are what call public policies. There are numerous studies which are related to the public policy and some researchers have tried to define public policy from diverse angles. In advance of explaining the meaning of public policy, let first of all go over some of the definitions. According to Robert Eyestone says conditions public policy as “the relationship of government unit to its environment. Thomas R. Dye, (2012) says that “public policy is whatever government chooses to do or not to do” Richard Rose says that “public policy is not a decision, it is a course or pattern of activity. In Carl J. Friedrich’s opinion public policy is a proposed course of action of a person, group, or government within a given environment providing opportunities and obstacles which the policy was proposed to utilize and overcome in an effort. Therefore, this paper tries to explain the meaning of public policy.
To start with, it is clear that public policies are governmental decisions, and are generally the result of events which the government commences in the achievement of certain goals and objectives (Dunn, 2009). It can also be said that public policy formulation and implementation involves a well-planned pattern or course of activity. It requires a carefully close knit relation and interaction lined by the significant governmental agencies which are; the political executive, legislature, bureaucracy, and judiciary (Gerston, 2010). It is said that the following points will make the nature of public policy further clear in minds that public policies are goal oriented and formulated and implemented in order to achieve the objectives which the government has in view of benefiting the public in general (Jenkins, 1978). For example, in Malawi the introduction of agricultural subsidy farm inputs program. These policies are clearly the influence of the government programmes. It means that it is an arrangement or a course of activity or the governmental officials and actors in a shared sense than being termed as their separate and isolated decisions. The public policy is what the government actually chooses to do (Dunn, 2009). It is the relationship of the government units to the specific field of political environment in a given administrative system. It can take a diversity of shapes like law, ordinances, court decisions, executive orders and decisions. Therefore, public policy is helpful in the sense that it shows the concern of the government and involvement in problem reliability on which the policy is made (Dunn, 2009). The policy has the sanction of law and authority behind it. The policy can also negatively involve the decisions through the governmental officials which are not concerned of taking any action on the reliable issue (Dunn, 2009).

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Furthermore, the meaning of policy can be understood in a better manner of the creation of lined policies and goals (Jenkins, 1978). Therefore, the goals are what policies aim at or hope to achieve. A goal is a desired state of affairs that a society or an organization attempts to realize. Goals can be understood in a variety of perspectives (Jenkins, 1978). And these goals are believed to be specific and real. Therefore, elimination of poverty is a goal that the government wants to pursue. Public policies are concerned with such specific goals. They are some instruments which lead to the achievement of these goals. For instance, if the government announces that its goal is to give housing to all the members of the deprived sections of society it does not become a public policy. It is a statement of intention of what the government wants to do (Dye, 2012). At many times the government, for political causes, announces goals that it has little desire to achieve. In order to become a policy, the goal has to be translated into action (Dye, 2012). For example, during the regime of Dr. Joyce Banda, the introduction program of giving goats and cattle, and building houses to the deprived families. As a public police, programmes have to be intended to achieve specific objectives. As an illustration, let us look at the policy of poverty alleviation. Many programmes have been intended for this, for instance, The integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP), The National Rural Employment Programme (NREP) just to mention a few. Each programme has certain goals to achieve within a specified time and each programme is provided with financial possessions and administrative personnel. These become concrete efforts to achieve a goal. For example, food for work program in case of Malawi. Therefore, the policy influences the strategy of achieving a goal. Hence policy is essentially an instrument to achieve a goal.

Furthermore, another distinction meaning of a public is a policy as a decision. Therefore, at times various conditions are used interchangeably but incorrect usage (Dye, 2012). For instance, the individuals, organizations or government are constantly taking decisions. But all the decisions made are not taken to be matters of policy (Dye, 2012). Therefore, the important core of decision-making is to create a choice from the alternatives accessible in order to take an action, if there is only one course of action accessible then there is nothing one can choose from and so, no decision can be taken (Cochran ; Malone, 2014). Therefore, a decision can be taken only when there is more than one alternative accessible. Hence, a decision is the act of making a choice. The whole science of decision-making has been developed in order to analyse the circumstances that can improve this activity and how a decision maker can improve his choice through expanding the number of alternatives accessible to him (Cochran ; Malone, 2014).. There can be two types of decisions, programmed and none programmed. Programmed decisions are repetitive and do not require a fresh consideration every time they are taken ( Brooks, 1989),. These decisions are routine in nature and for these fixed procedures can be worked out. Each decision needs not be dealt separately. In programmed decisions, habits, skills, and knowledge in relation to the problem are important. For instance, once the decision to start deliberation at parliament from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. is taken; it does not require fresh consideration to keep it start throughout those hours. The decision is combined into procedures that are recognized for the purpose. For non-programmed decisions are new and unstructured. No well laid-out approaches are accessible for such decisions, each issue or question is to be dealt with separately. Therefore, such decisions are required in the situations of first-time problems, for instance, breakdown of an epidemic, occurrence of earthquake, and accidents. In this regard training skills are needed for such decisions and innovative skill to become relevant. Therefore, both the programmed and non-programmed decisions have to be taken in a broad framework or course of action (Brooks, 1989),
Another definition of public policy is the broader direction or perspective that a government lays down in order to take decisions (Dye, 2012). Therefore, each organization or the individual is enjoined to take a decision within a policy framework. Decision can be used as a one-time action. According to Dye, (2012) says that policy consists of many decisions that are taken to fulfil its purposes. And the policy consists of a sequences of decisions tied together into a clear entire. Furthermore, there can be some parallel in the processes involved in decision making and policy making. Both are concerned with choice in the middle of alternatives and for similar processes can be followed in making alternatives. But it should always be kept in mind that policy is a more broad term, as it encompasses a series of decisions and has a reasonably longer time perspective.
Inclusion from this explanation on the meaning of public policy, it is clear that public policies are governmental decisions, and are actually the result of activities which the government undertakes in the achievement of certain goals and objectives. Therefore, it is believed that public policy formulation and implementation involves a well-planned arrangement of activities which are there in order to achieve the planned goals and objectives. And public policy needs a careful close knit relation and interaction lined by the important governmental agencies such as the political executive, legislature, bureaucracy, and judiciary.

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Friedrich C.J. (1976), Policy Making, Structures and Processes, Niilm University.Gerston L.N. (2010), Public Policy Making: Process and Principles, New York: M.E Sharpe.
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