Models of Public Policy

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Uses of Models. The models we shall use in studying policy are conceptual models.

Simplify and clarify our thinking about politics and public policy Identify important aspects of policy problems Suggest explanations for public policy and predict its consequences Selected Policy Models.

INSTITUTIONALISM: POLICY AS INSTITUTIONAL OUTPUT Government institutions have long been a central focus of political science. Public policy is authoritatively determined, implemented, and enforced by these institutions. The relationship between public policy and government institutions is very close. Strictly speaking, a policy does not become a public policy until it is adopted, implemented, and enforced by some government institution. Government institutions give public policy three distinctive characteristics. •

First, government lends legitimacy to policies. Government policies are generally regarded as legal obligations that command the loyalty of citizens. Second, government policies involve universality. Only government policies extend to all people in a society; the policies of other groups or organizations reach only a part of the society. Finally, government monopolizes coercion in society, only government can legitimately imprison violators of its policies.

The impact of institutional arrangements on public policy is an empirical question that deserves investigation. Federalism recognizes that both the national government and the state governments derive independent legal authority from their own citizens. PROCESS: POLICY AS POLITICAL ACTIVITY Today political processes and behaviors are a central focus of political science. Political scientists with an interest in policy have grouped various activities according to their relationship with public policy. The result is a Policy process, which outlines • • •

Problem Identification: The identification of policy problems through demands for government action. Policy Formulation: The development of policy proposals by interest groups, White House staff, congressional committees, and think tanks. Policy Legitimation: The selection and endorsement of policies through political actions by Congress, the president, and the courts.

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Policy Implementation: The implementation of policies through organized bureaucracies, public expenditures, and the activities of executive agencies. Policy Evaluation: The evaluation of policies by government agencies them selves, outside consultants, the press, and the public.

It has been argued that political scientists should limit their studies of public policy to these processes and avoid analyses of the substance of policies. It is not the content of public policy that is to be studied but rather the processes by which ·public policy is developed, implemented, and changed. RATIONALISM: POLICY AS MAXIMUM SOCIAL GAIN

A rational policy is one that achieves "maximum social gain"; that is, governments should choose policies resulting in gains to society that exceed costs by the greatest amount, and governments should refrain from policies if costs are not exceeded by gains. First, no policy should be adopted if its costs exceed its benefits. Second, among policy alternatives, decision makers should choose the policy that produces the greatest benefit over cost. To select a rational policy, policymakers must (1) Know all the preferences and their relative weights, (2) know all the policy alternatives available, (3) Know all the consequences of each policy alternative, (4) Calculate the ratio of benefits to costs for each policy alternative, and (5) Select the most efficient policy alternative. Rational policymaking also requires information about alternative policies, the predictive capacity to foresee accurately the consequences of alternate policies, and the intelligence to calculate correctly the ratio of costs to benefits. Finally, rational policymaking requires a decision-making system that...
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