The policy making process is a methodical process which follows five specific steps in the quest to realize a precise guiding principle. It is through these steps that proposed ideas are identified, appraised, honed, critiqued, and elucidated for their practicality within prevailing circumstances. The five major steps in the policy making process are the agenda building phase, formulation, adoption, implementation, review, and termination.
5 Steps in the Policy Making Process
The agenda building phase is the elemental stage of policy creation. Here, policy makers identify a specific issue of concern requiring the government’s attention. Itineraries often exist for an extended period of time before gaining traction among influential individuals who then petition government for an outright amplification of administration-led action. For instance, illegal immigration had long been an issue of concern for a section of legislators who were vehemently opposed to it prevalence. However, it took nearly five decades for a majority of U.S citizens to ultimately contend with its overall impact on American society and the need for appropriate action.
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The identification of an idea is then followed closely by the formulation of policy. Experts and authorities in the issue identified are particularly necessary in this particular stage with regard to designing a workable guiding principle. It is worth noting that formulation of policy serves is an important step as it provides a clear basis for future action. Disagreements are typical during this stage; stemming from contradictory proposals and particularly evident in democracies such as the United States.
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The third step involves adopting a proposed idea as a feasible alternative worth further discussion and essential towards the policymaking. This step is characterized by a high level of complexity and the involvement of numerous influential actors. In particular, lobby groups, the judiciary, the executive, and key members of congress all voice their opinion about a proposed policy with the aim of influencing its adoption (Gerston, 2015). After broad discussions regarding a bill’s overall applicability, it may then be adopted after Congressional approval.
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Implementation is the fourth step within the policy implementation framework. After the adoption of a new guiding principle, government agencies and institutions are then tasked with the monumental task of realizing its implementation. Unlike the adoption of a specific regulation, legislation, or statute which provides a rough outline of the policy, the implementation phase is characterized by comprehensive details about specific standards within the law.
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The evaluation and termination stage is the fifth and last phase in the policy-making process. Evaluation involves an unadulterated perspective of a policy’s viability given prevailing circumstances. The application of a cost-benefit analysis approach has been vital during evaluation. Similarly, termination is a reality that must always be considered after evaluation. It creates provisions for the elimination of a policy in case it becomes obsolete, fails to fulfill initial objectives, or if it enjoys waning support from interest groups.
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