5 Stages of the policy making process

Policy is an essential part of every human being existing on this planet. Day-in-day-out policies are formulated, relinquished, replaced, revised among other things. Under the stewardship of governments in control of our respective geographical settlement, we operate under numerous sets of values modelled on the forms of governments that be. What are the 5 stages of the policy making process? These are agenda building, formulation, adoption, implementation, evaluation, and termination. This is also reffered to as the policy making cycle or 5 stages of policy making process PDF.

These values are means by which policies are formulated. The policy making cycle is generally a repetition of the conceptualized five stages of policy making. The word process is replaced by cycle when the activity is always used each time a similar outcome is desired.

In the case of the policy making process, the outcome is a preferred policy that addresses the problem. Despite problems varying from time to time, the process is still the same hence the cycle.
It would be very interesting, before looking at steps of the policy making process (which make up the cycle), to try and understand how public policy itself works.

READ: The 4 Types Of Policy

While there are countless definitions of public policy, one thing remains the same, it is public officials and trying to tackle issues affecting day to day lives in their jurisdiction. These differ according to factors around; political affiliation of officials, nature of the problem at hand.

A good non-politically determined situation is the current Covid-19 pandemic which has birthed various government health policies modelled against the virus.

The five steps of the policy making process are the 1950s work of Harold Lasswell during his tenures at the University of Chicago and Yale University. These are still used today despite new challenges calling for substitution of some fundamentals.

5 Stages of policy making process

1. Agenda Setting

This is the troubleshooting stage where the challenge impacting the public is undressed and laid bare for the legislators to address and come up with solutions. In functional governments, solutions not only come from concerned parties in and outside government, but they are also objectively implemented for public benefit.

Agenda setting itself also has sub-stages to be followed i.e: Systemic Agenda. Public officials brainstorm (based of interactions with the constituencies they represent) all the issues they deem fit to address.

  • Institutional Agenda. Issues shortlisted from the systemic agenda are awarded time for policymakers to articulate and initiate action on.
  • Discretionary Agenda. Lawmakers are responsible for this list of issues without influence from the afore mentioned agendas.
  • Decision Agenda. When this one comes out, it has the agreed upon list of issues policy makers ought to act upon.

2. Policy Formation

At this point, conversations get heated up. Options of policies are developed within government and from a wide range of options, the least effective are taken down. Because public officials have differences by virtue of them being human to start with, and them coming from different walks of life including political parties, interested parties try to have policies more desirable to them kept on the remaining options.

3. Decision Making

Relevant authorities in government single out a particular course of action towards the remaining policy choices. This action should ideally be of the greatest public benefit resonating with the rout that led to the process of trying to come up with the policy.

4. Policy Implementation

At this stage, government rolls out the policy and through public administration tools public officials for the distribution of government resources in whatever form they take. Changes implemented should reflect the plight of affected parties which becomes the first step towards embracing a new policy.

5. Policy Evaluation

Here both government and all stakeholder follow up on the account of the policy from its impact on the issue that led to its formulation. They also determine whether or not, the policy is bringing desired results.

Policies have a tendency to rub on to each other such that this may result in changes in existing policies or even an alteration of the new one to minimize negative impact on existing policy. Present day governments, the world over, have been accused of abusing the responsibility vested in 5 stages of policy making process PDF.

Matters of public interest in some instances have become nonentities such that policies are even formulated to legalize personal growth activities to the detriment of the public who are the rightful beneficiaries of this process. As mentioned earlier, while these are the fundamental stages of the policy formulation process, there are variations to the policy making process. These are just but a framework of the policy making system which has its weaknesses and strengths.

Call to mind how Covid-19 has impacted policy making in your respective country. We have seen activities of the old day being banned and in some instances referred to as illegal and attracting fines and even jail penalties.

Not only public policy was affected, private entities have also found themselves changing their policies to suit the new business atmosphere. Heavy decrease of movement and physical contact activity has been the order of the day.

A good example of a phenomenon affecting policy making is that of Covid-19 vaccination. These vaccines have received a lot of negative criticism and even resistance such that governments have had to implement policies where non-vaccinated citizens are excluded from certain activities.

Recently in Zimbabwe, churches where not allowing citizens who have not received their full vaccination evidenced by vaccination cards, access to their services. This is how effective policy is, despite one wanting to choose what they can or cannot do.

Institutions, companies and other entities operating under these governments have adopted the idea of policy formulation for the benefit of their organizations. We will not delve deep in to their processes as they will vary from institution to institution.

Because of the wide breadth of daily life issues, public policy also takes different forms, among them; new laws, statutory instruments and/or regulatory guidelines. The ideal goal of 5 stages of policy making process PDF is betterment of life for the citizenry and as such some ideas pop up from outside government but public officials are the gatekeepers of the policy formulation system

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