Now, we can say, public policy is used to reference what government does in order to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people. For example, if government’s objective is to eradicate poverty, rural development, youth empowerment, and industrial development are shaped as policies for which government will then implement as practical action aimed at eradicating poverty. Public policy, therefore, can also be considered all authorized means devised by government in order to achieve its set goals and objectives. Public policy is thus a mechanism used in translating goals or objectives into practical actions that can affect positively the lives of the people. Operating within the confine of that definition, we can distinguish three separate levels of policy, defined by the degree to which they make real differences in the lives of citizens. • At the first level, we have policy choices—decisions made by politicians, civil servants, or others granted authority that are directed toward using public Page of 46 52
power to affect the lives of citizens. Legislative bodies, presidents, governors, administrators, and pressure groups, among others, make such policy choices. The outcome of those choices is a policy that can be put into action. • At the second level, we can speak of policy outputs—policy choices being put into action. Here, the government is involved in doing things: spending money, hiring people, or promulgating regulations that are designed to affect the economy and society. Outputs may be virtually synonymous with the term program as it is commonly used in government circles. • Finally, at the third level, is the policy impacts—the effects that policy choices and policy outputs have on citizens, such as making them wealthier or healthier or the air they breathe less polluted. These impacts may be influenced in part by other factors in the society—economic productivity, education, and the like—but they also reflect to some degree the success or failure of public policy choices and outputs. These policy impacts also may reflect the interaction of a number of different programmes. Successful alleviation of poverty, for example, may depend on a number of social programmes, education, economic programmes, and the tax system. If any of these does not perform well, it may be impossible for government, and the society that it represents, to reach its desired goals. Characteristics Of Public Policy The special characteristics of public policies are derived from the fact that they are formulated by what David Easton termed as the “authorities” in a political system, namely, “elders, paramount chiefs, executives, legislators, judges, administrators, councilors and the like”. The following are the key characteristics of public policy: • Firstly, the hallmark of public policy is a purposive or result-oriented action rather than random behaviour.
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- Summer '17