WHAT IS PUBLIC POLICY
This is a field of study on the international system which is relatively seen to be new that is being used in the understanding of how government or organisations formulate and implement policies. It is said to have been started after the Second World War in North America and Europe when there were problems in regards to policy implementation that created a gap between government and public. During this time government was unable to cope up with the newly emerging challenges hence the introduction of policies to address these problems. Pacesila & Profirou (2006) narrated that the growing number of schools of higher learning instilled knowledge in learners that prompt them to come up with some researches that end up coming up with theories on how problems within the society can be resolved.
A policy in most cases comes in the form the written and regulated statements about priorities and standards of issues to be achieved. It is actually referred to a different pathS of action needed for the pursuit of preferred goals in a particular context that helps the individual or organizational decision in making. Torjman, (2005) defined a policy as a “substantive and administrative procedures whereby in substantive, it is concerned with the legislation, programs and practices that govern the substantive aspects of community work while administrative procedures, the policy involve the collection of statistical information on neighborhoods and the evaluation of complex community
Public policy is a field of study that has different meanings. Different scholars have defined it according to the discipline under study such as economics, as well as administration science. Hogwood & Gunn (1984) defined public policy as a label in the field of activities, as an expression of general purpose of state affairs, as specific proposals, as decisions of government, as a formal authorization, as a programs, as we as an output and outcome.
To begin with, public policy is considered to be a label of some field of activities as it is regarded as activities of the government such as in the field of economics, social or political arena For instance the government of Malawi through the Malawi Revenue Authority collect revenues inform of tax from its citizen as well as foreign investors to achieve its objectivities.
It is also regarded as an expression of the general purpose of state affairs especially when political parties as well as the government uses it to achieve their desired goal. Another scholar Cochran, et al (2014) defined public policy as a “framework within which actions are undertaken to achieve public goals”. For instance the HIV/ AIDS policy aiming at reducing the risk of spreading the pandemic.
Public policy is also regarded as a proposal as it forms part of the statements that political organization would like to see being undertaken by the government. During the 2014 campaign, the DPP government in its manifesto promised that it will construct community colleges of which when it came into power it made it possible to fulfill this promise. Fredrich, (1963) defined the same as a proposed course of action of a person, group or government within a given environment providing obstacles and opportunities which the policy was proposed to utilize and overcome in an effort to reach a goal or realize an objective or purpose
Furthermore these two authors defined public policy as decision of the government where the focus is on how specific situations are analyzed. For instance, the settlement of the Lake Malawi wrangle between Malawi and Tanzania.In complementing to the definition of public policy as decision of the government, Daneke etal, (1979) defined it as a broad guide to present and future decisions selected in light of given conditions from a number of alternatives, the actual decision or set of decisions designed to carry out the chosen course of actions.
Public policy is also regarded as a programme as it serves as a means through which government pursues its objectives. Cloete, (1998) also defined public policy as “government’s program of action to give effect to selected normative and empirical goals in order to address perceived problems and needs in society in a specific way therefore achieve desired changes in that society”. For instance the malata and fertilizer subsidy programme implemented by the DPP regime.
Public policy is also considered as official authorization since it is sometimes formulated by the parliament or other statutory bodies requiring an action of any kind by the government. For instance the political party bill of 2016 was drafted and then presented in the National Assembly and tabled as a bill and then passed into law.
The Policy Process
This is a process where different solutions addressing different aspects of problems are balanced. Each and every policy has three key elements: a problem definition, goals to be achieved, and the policy instruments to address the problem and achieve the goals. Mostly policy may be in a written form since it takes the form of a planned policy document that has been discussed. It can also be unwritten when it has been reviewed, approved and published by a policymaking body.
Who Makes Public Policies?
Policies usually comes from individuals who have powers and authorities to impose guidelines for action. It is made by elected officials acting in concert with advisors from the higher levels of the administration. Most of the time government ministers articulate policies on behalf of the government that are put in action by the non-elected officials.
Public Policy Cycle
This is a process that involves the repetition of the steps rather than a linear one and it relate a variety of important group of actors in the policy process through their involvement with the different stages. Those that are involved in the policy process are called policy actors. The policy cycle involves the emergence of a problem requiring the consideration of the public and decision makers themselves, placing the identified problem on the government agenda, formulation of several alternatives to resolve the problem, the adoption of a policy and finally implementation and evaluation of the policy.
The concept of public is a contested field if study as on its own it has several definition as defined by several scholars. Hogwood & Gunn (1984) defined it as a label in the field of activities, as an expression of general purpose of state affairs, as a specific proposal, as a decision of government, as a formal authorization, as a programme, as an output, as an outcome, as model of pattern, as a process. Knoepfel et al (2011) also defined it as a power games in a specific institutional context played out between various public actors who make concerted effort to resolve a collective problem in collaboration or in opposition to para-state and private actors. In a nutshell public policy is what government want to do or not do such.
ReferencesCloete, F. & Wissink, H. & De-Coning,(2006) Improving Public Policy from Theory to practice, Hatfield, Van Schaik.Cochran, C.L, Malone, E., (2014). Public policy perspectives and choices: 5th edn., Lynne Rienner publishers, USA.
Daneke, G.A., Steiss, A.W., (1963). “Planning and Policy Analysis for Public Administrators” J.W., Sutherland(ed) Van Nostrand and Reinhold Company, New York.
Dye, T, R., (1976): Policy analysis: What Goverments do, why they do it, and what difference it makes. Toscaloosa: Alabama University Press. Federich, C.J., (1963). Man and his Government, McGraw Hill, New York.
Hogwood, B., Gunn, W, & Lewis, A. (1984): Policy Analysis for the Real World. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
Knoepfel, P., Laurre, C., Varone, F, & Hill, M, (2011): Public policy Analysis. Bristol: Policy Press.
Pacesila, M., Profiroiu, A (2006) Recent revolution concerning the study of public policy. Accademy of Economic Studies, Bucharest.
Pal, L., A. beyond Policy Analysis: 3rd Edition. 2005.
Torjman,S., (2005). What is Public Policy? Caledon Institute of social policy, Ottawa Canada