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Understanding Public Policy

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By Author: Sherry Roberts
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A public policy is a direct representation of the expenditure of limited public resources and which restricts certain types of individual or organizational behavior to make it meaningful and to impact to all (Dye, 2007). Being the beneficiaries of public policies, the people have the right to expect that their government officials remain accountable for the validity, efficiency, and effectiveness of those policies and thus the need for analysis (Fischer et al., 2006). Once a public policy is made operational, some form of evaluation needs to be accomplished to determine if the policy will, in the long run, achieve the desired outcomes. Policy analysis is defined as the process through which the identification of best policy among alternatives gets done. In other words, policy analysis determines which among alternative policies is most likely to accomplish a particular set of goals at hand. As such, policy analysis avails clearance of a messy policy challenge through analyzing available information, playing out the implications of and weighing options for action (Dye, 2007).. All these definitions relate that policy analysis is an assessment of whether a set of activities implemented under a specific policy will achieve a given set of objectives. This paper focuses on the importance of policy analysis, social impacts of these policies and governments limitations to state policies.
Relevance of policy analysis
Policy evaluation remains a vital stage in the policy processing (Fischer et al, 2006). It enables us to determine whether a policy’s effects are as intended and whether the results are positive or negative towards the targeted population or the general society.


Role during the development stage of public policy
During the developmental phase of public policies, policy analysis plays a set of instrumental roles. Among these roles, most essentials one occur during the decision-making process to determine which policy is most effective to achieve an established set of goals (Dye, 2007). For policies to be termed viable, policy analysis applies some systematic approaches to examine the various policy options while considering the goals at hand. Therefore, policy analysis can help provide a viable basis under which the analyzer can recommend the most suitable policy to get implemented to achieve the long-awaited goals. Policy analysis employs many methods to qualify an individual policy as best. These methods include quantitative and qualitative research as well as the use of various models such institutional and rational models (Fischer et al., 2006). Radin (2000) concurs that at the development stage, policy analysis plays an effective role that guarantees that effective and efficiency public policies are crafted.

Importance of policy analysis during implementation stage
During the implementation phase, policy analysis plays an instrumental role in identifying opportunities for improvement of public policies. Fischer et al. (2006) are of the view that, during policy implementation stage, policy analysis may get done using quantitative and qualitative techniques. After this, the implemented policies get reviewed, and recommendations made for potential modifications. Dunn (2003) looks at public policy analysis as a performance measure tool for these public policies thereby providing the basis for policy modification. To facilitate the determination of modifications needed, policy analysis identifies the policy’s strengths and weakness and so are the areas that require improvement. Guess & Farnham (2011) observe that, policy analysis at the implementation phase serves as a tool to correct aspects of the policy that need revision.
Social Impact of Policies
As viewed by Guess & Farnham (2011), public policies constitute programs, decisions and functions executed by the government, and its organ agencies meant to deal with issues that affect people or within its jurisdiction. As customary know government, organs develop a range of policies independently that effectively embark upon a myriad of social issues that range from ensuring of state security, health, education to crime control. That being the case, public policies thus impacts on various spheres of life including such domains like politics, economy and social fields. Fischer, Miller, & Sidney (2006) assert that public policies endeavor to regulate the economy systems through reviving social equity and enhancing economic performance respectively. It is thus evidence that public policies point social, political and economic prosperity of the citizenry. Due to that fact, then the impact of these public policies in these domains purely depends on their effectiveness and efficiency.
As a summary, the main notable social impacts of public policies include the following. First, public policies implemented leads to increased public protection and better consumer safety (Fischer, Miller, & Sidney (2006). Thus, to the people’s advantage, enacted public policies leads to protected workplace conditions and safe environments through extensively distributed police protection. Also, it ensures the safety of consumers through quality assured goods and food. The underlying argument behind the enactment of public policies is that the interests of people remain central to any development and deployment of any public policy. If properly implemented, public policies enhance the quality of life of the people. According to Dye (2007), public policies have other several direct and indirect impacts to a nation. For one, those policies aimed at improving the education for the public result of a positive transition to the economy through the creation of a skilled workforce and controlled unemployment. Similarly, those aimed at infrastructural improvement spur economic growth through improving transport and communication channels. Dunn (2003) pinpoints that it is difficult to single out individual social impacts of public policies since they are multifaceted. However, Dunn argues that, in the event that public policies get appropriately implemented with the people’s interest at heart, they result to greater social good irrespective of their domains.
Limitations of Policies on Government Power
Fischer et al. (2006) observe that the increasingly, the complexity of implemented public policies have for long played a role in limiting the governing authority. Presently, public and community participation has become central to private policy developers. The implication of that is the authoritative function of the government in planning of policies is continuously being surpassed by the private sector and community participation. In that case, public policy makers can never underestimate the power of peoples’ opinion in the context of policy planning, development, and implementation processes. Besides, the very description of a public policy imposes a limiting factor on governmental power (Fischer et al., 2006). As regards the definition, the people’s interests are central to the development of any public policy, which leaves the government confined to the role of only overseeing policy implementation (Radin, 2000). Finally, today several stakeholders groups such as interest groups have emerged which have taken over the tasks of shaping, planning and development processes in the people-centered policies and projects. The likely effect of this is to lessen the government’s role and authority with respect to the policy process.
Dunn, W. (2003). Public Policy Analysis: An Introduction. New Jersey: Prentice Hall
Dye, T. (2007). Understanding Public Policy. New Jersey: Prentice Hall
Fischer, F., Miller, G., & Sidney, M. (2006). Handbook of Public Policy Analysis: Theory, Methods, and Politics. New York: Marcel Dekker
Radin, B. (2000). Beyond Machiavelli: Policy Analysis Comes of Age. Georgetown: Georgetown University Press.

Carolyn Morgan is the author of this paper. A senior editor at Melda Research in custom research paper service if you need a similar paper you can place your order for a custom research paper from nursing writing services.

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