PPA 503 – The Public Policy- Making Process Lecture 6a – Policy Formulation Policy Formulation Formulation – develop a plan, a method, or a prescription for alleviating some need. Research – interpret the results. Review – review and discuss alternatives. Projection – Determine consequences and feasibility. Selection – Refine and make a formal selection. Test the results. No guarantees. Policy Formulation Types of formulation. Rational planning – systematic. Subjective reacting – haphazard. Guidelines. Formulation need not be limited to one set of actors. Formulation may proceed without clear definition of the problem, or contact with affected group. There is no necessary coincidence between formulation and particular institutions, though it is a frequent activity of bureaucratic agencies. Formulation and reformulation may occur over a long period of time without ever building sufficient support for any one proposal. There are often several appeal points for those who lose in the formulation process at any one level. The process itself never has neutral effects. Policy Formulation Who is involved? Sources inside government. Executive. – President, aides, cabinet. » Goals, priorities leading to boundaries. – Bureaucracy. » Actual development of plans and proposals. – Outside agencies. Legislature. – Staff and support units. – Outside agencies connected to Congress. Policy Formulation Who is involved (contd.)? Sources outside government. Policy networks – subgovernments – discuss. – Washington Information Directory – 500 subject areas. Public service organizations. – Foundations – Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Sloan, Russell Sage, Mellon. – Research organizations – Brookings, American Enterprise Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, Urban Institute, RAND Corporation. – Universities, especially Research I universities. – Citizen organizations – Common Cause, Nader groups, League of Women Voters. Policy Formulation Institutional limits on policy formulation. Constitutional limits. Separation of powers. Federalism. Bicamericalism. Checks and balances. Existing policy relationships. Drive for predictability. Networks of contacts and interactions. – Clientele or constituency relationships are established and protected. – All agencies and committees require support and have typically found means for gaining that support. – Definite pattern of communication exists within, between, and outside existing units. – Means are developed for defining problems and formulating proposals. These means strongly accommodate the interests presently served. – These networks difficult to break. Change is possible. – Normal change is incremental. – But, dramatic change can restructure the network. Policy Formulation Functions Rational Subjective Types of Planners Reactors formulation: methods External Issue Relationship Integrative Sequential Internal Issue Comprehensive Segmental Relationship Capacities for Systematic Unsystematic Knowing What to Do Confidence in Projective Reactive Analyzing Effects Policy Formulation Types of formulation (contd.). Formulating comprehensive proposals. The number of problems treated – all of the problems or just a sample? The extent of the analysis – all aspects or just certain aspects? The estimation of effects – all effects or just most immediate. Elaborate proposals are difficult to build support for and are unlikely to survive intact. Policy Formulation Types of formulation: Styles. Routine formulation – reformulating similar proposals to policies currently on the agenda. Analogous formulation – Treating a new problem by developing analogies to past problems. Creative formulation – Treating new problems with an unprecedented proposal. Routine and analogous formulation occur more frequently than creative, but creative can happen. Policy formulation Strategic considerations. Must think of legitimation when formulating proposals. Considerations. Building support for a proposed course of action. Maintaining previous support. Deciding where compromises can be made. Calculating when and where to make the strongest play and when and where to retreat. Controlling information flow to your advantage. Policy Formulation Formulation and legitimation. Point: We don’t care when one stops and the other begins. They are inseparable. Combinations. Perfect plan with imperfect strategy - examples. An imperfect plan with perfect strategy – examples. A perfect blend – is it possible? Imperfect blend – most policies. Policy Formulation Formulation as a total policy process. A disorderly process – unpredictable – less predictable elements dominate the process. Planners frustrated – develop a system of program justification. PPBS (Programming Planning Budgeting System) – force planners and budget makers to think beyond immediate results and consider longer-range goals and effects. Model: – Identify national goals with precision and on a continuing basis. – Choose among those goals the ones that are most urgent. – Search for alternatives means of reaching those goals most effectively at the least cost. – Inform ourselves not merely on next year’s costs, but on the second, and third, and subsequent years’ costs of our programs. – Measure the performance of our programs to insure a dollar’s worth of service for each dollar spent. Policy Formulation Formulation as a total policy process (contd.). Planners frustrated – develop a system of program justification (contd.). PPBS designed to reduce uncertainty, waste of resources, and misdirection in policy making through systematic analysis of the basic elements of that process: problems, goals, allocations, appraisals. As one reviews PPBS in its pure form, it becomes evident that it is a total policy process. Problems. – Not everyone accepts outcomes. – Given limited resources, people debate goals and objectives. – PPBS becomes a strategy of policy politics. – May increase efficiency by some measures, but will not eliminate politics. Alternative Specification (Kingdon) How is the list of potential alternatives for public policy choices narrowed to the ones that actually receive serious consideration? Alternatives are generated and narrowed in the policy stream. Relatively hidden participants, specialists in the particular policy area, are involved. Alternative Specification (Kingdon) Hidden participants: Specialists. Alternatives, proposals, and solutions are generated in communities of specialists. Academics, researchers, consultants, career bureaucrats, congressional staffers, and analysts who work for interest groups. These communities of specialists can be fragmented or tightly knit. They share their specialization and acquaintance with the issue under consideration. Ideas bubble around these communities. People try out proposals in a variety of ways: speeches, bill introductions, hearings, leaks, paper circulation, conversations, lunches. They float ideas, criticize one another’s work, hone and revise, and float new versions. Some are respectable, some are out of the question. Alternative Specification (Kingdon) The policy stream. The generation of policy alternatives is best seen as a selection process. Policy primeval soup, many ideas float around, bump into one another, recombine. Criteria for survival of policy ideas. Technical feasibility. Congruence with values of community members. Anticipation of future constraints. – Budget. – Public acceptability. – Politician’s receptivity. Alternative Specification (Kingdon) The policy stream (contd.). A long process of softening up the system. Policy entrepreneurs do not leave the process to chance. They push for consideration in many forums in many ways. Recombination is more important than mutation. As a result, entrepreneurs are more important than inventors. Softening up is important because policy windows open so infrequently. Alternative Specification (Kingdon) Policy windows. An open policy window is an opportunity for advocates to push their pet solutions or to push attention for their special problems. They have pet solutions and wait for problems to arise that they can attach their solutions to or for political events to make their solutions more saleable. Windows are opened by events in the political stream or in the problem stream. Sometimes windows open predictably; sometimes they open unpredictably. The scarcity and short duration of policy windows makes them a powerful magnet for problems and proposals. Open windows provide opportunities for linkages.
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