Part%201%20--%20E%20%20Public%20Policy%20Process - Part 1...

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Part 1: Overview of Interest Groups in the United States E. Interest Groups and the American Public Policy Process 1. What is a “public policy”? Public policies result from political struggles at the federal, state, and local government levels in the American political system. A “ public policy” can be defined as “an officially expressed purpose or goal backed by a sanction.” Public policies are created in a number of different forms. A public policy can be (1) a law/statute/ordinance adopted by Congress, a state legislature, a city council, a county commission, etc., and signed by the chief executive, (2) a rule or regulation written by an agency of the executive bureaucracy, (3) a presidential or gubernatorial executive order , (4) a treaty with a foreign nation signed by the President and approved by the Senate, or a (5) majority court opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court or other state or federal court. Inherently, all public policies are coercive, even when they are motivated by the best intentions. Public policies are binding decisions made by governments to undertake certain activities and to control and regulate certain behaviors. Coercion means force, but in our governmental context we are referring specifically to legal force —the application of involuntary measures to change the behavior of citizens toward a predetermined goal. Governments can impose penalties on individuals refusing to obey public policies, such as fines and loss of freedom (e.g., imprisonment). Policies made by private individuals and corporations, on the other hand, cannot result in the loss of freedom because only government can legitimately use coercion in order to gain compliance. As a people, Americans (through our elected representatives) have given federal, state, and local government officials the power to use coercion to force people to obey public policies, such as laws mandating the payment of taxes and adherence to a minimum drinking age for alcoholic beverages.
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2. The Phases of the Public Policy Process in America In the U.S., public policies are developed and put into place through a five-phase process: Phase 1: Problem Identification The problem identification phase involves the setting of the agenda of a government. An agenda is “the set of issues and concerns before government.” The agenda defines the set of problems and issues that will receive serious attention from policy makers. Agendas constantly change. For instance, environmental concerns may be an important item on the agenda during one year, but these concerns may fall off the agenda the next year if unemployment begins to increase. The economy then becomes the important agenda concern. Agendas
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2011 for the course POLS 3388 taught by Professor Davidr.shock during the Fall '10 term at Kennesaw.

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Part%201%20--%20E%20%20Public%20Policy%20Process - Part 1...

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