Citizen Input in Public Policy
Citizens are a representation of the public; this means that any decisions that are made for the public will have a great impact on them. Despite the diversity of culture that is represented by the citizens, public policies that are made should ensure that they are fair enough not to have a negative impact on them. It has never been easy to implement policies that will be found to be satisfactory to all citizens. This is the reason why policies have to be amended with time to accommodate the daily changes. In most cases, the government is unable to involve an entire group of citizens in implementing certain policies. This has always been due to logistic issues as well as the different views that may be gathered which may make the entire procedure complicated. What most governments opt for is to have a representation from the different regions of the state to participate. It is assumed that they are bearing the views of the people that they are representing and hence considered valid. However, this may not be the case; different people may have varying views even when they are in a similar cultural and environmental setting. The government is hence always on the lookout for the best procedure that can be used to ensure adequate participation of the public in making and implementing policies.
Need for public involvement
We are living in times whereby literacy levels have grown so high. It is not like the past years whereby a large percentage of the citizens were not adequately informed about how public policies affected them (Rabin, 2003). Most of them paid little attention to such issues and lived according to the rules that were set. Despite the negative consequences that they probably had on the socio-economic environment, they lacked the avenue to present their issues. This was mainly because of marginalization and low literacy levels. However, as many people show interest in education and the empowerment of the marginalized, especially the women, there has been a need for them to participate in implementing policies. It took some time before citizens realized how the policies that are passed by the government have a direct impact on them. The policies had a lot to tell about how progressive the state will be in terms of economic development. It was not fair for such a large responsibility to be left in the hands of a few individuals who were likely to implement policies that would serve their interests.
Leaving the responsibility to the government officials was having a very negative impact on other citizens who continued to languish in poverty (Buss, 2006). They were to fulfill their responsibility of paying taxes yet they were not enjoying the work that was being done by the money. As the rich business tycoons and other government officials continued to enrich themselves, the rest of the citizens did not experience any change. Development projects were only initiated in areas where the influential in the society were located. This led to the manipulation of the marginalized by the rich. There was nothing that could be done by such citizens considering their level of education. They were the majority could not yet influence the decisions of their states. It was only a matter of time before the citizens that were considered to be least started forming unions and empowering each other. It was easier for them to voice their views when they were in groups.
These were the years when there were several worker unions and women groups. Together they discovered that education was one of the means through which they could gain an influence in the society. Despite inadequate resources and opportunities that were available for them, they purposed to put their differences aside and empower each other towards a specific goal. Business tycoons and politicians would challenge their decisions basing on the exposure they had in terms of their education and traveling through the world. In order for such competitions to be managed, they had to prove their capability by also acquiring education. As the years went by, the state started to appreciate the abilities that lied deep within the people that were once referred to as the marginalized. The government hence had to create more opportunities for such individuals so as to participate in public policies.
The importance of public participation
Public participation in making and implementing policies is necessary to enhance equal development. When there is a representation of all individuals in such an activity, it provides an opportunity for the rest of the people to understand and appreciate the needs of other individuals. For instance, it is only a blind person that has a clear understanding of the challenges that the blind people go through (Renn, 1995). When they are personally given the opportunity to express their needs, it becomes easier for the rest of the people to understand them. Even though it took quite sometime before women were accepted and appreciated in the government, their participation was considered of ultimate importance when they were given the chance. As they got the exposure, it was realized that they had a role to play in the development of the country. Different categories of people have unique views that can be implemented to bring about equal development.
The participation of the public was also considered to be necessary as it empowers the masses on the issues that affect them. As they participate in such decisions, they become more informed of the policies and the areas of life that affect them. As they make their contributions to either amend or reject the policy, they will be doing so with the full knowledge of the impacts that they will have not only on them but also their generations to come. Allowing the public to participate in such important occasions also eliminates the pressure that may be mounted on government officials. In most cases, people would put the blame on the government whenever things went wrong. It was easy for them to point fingers at such officials considering the fact that they were not involved in the decision making process. It was at times not easy to make the public to understand the challenges that were being experienced in passing the policies. However, once they are involved in the entire process, they will learn to appreciate the final decisions that are reached. Public participation also gives the people a sense of unity and confidence when the policies become active. They will appreciate the document with the full assurance that it is the work of their hands.
Public participation in the implementation of public policy is currently being adapted by several nations of the world. Most of the countries that are amending their public policies are involving the participation of people that are a representation of every region. The main challenge that has been faced by such efforts of the government is the fact that the process is costly and also slower (Adams, 2007). Many suggestions and ideas gathered from different people are supposed to be merged to come up with a reliable policy. This has not been an easy exercise which ends up eliminating some of the other issues that arise. The adaptation of such a procedure has however not made the process unbiased. At times there are various complains especially when a certain section of individuals still feel that their views were ignored.
Several states are realizing the importance of involving the citizens in implementing policies that will govern them. This is due to the realization that what may be applicable to a section of people may not be applicable to the entire group. In fact, the nations that are composed of people of diverse cultures, the government has been forced to come with different policies that they can comfortably apply. The aim of such a move is to ensure that the law that has been implemented is not in any way interfering with the religious and cultural inclination of the people. There are however basic principles that have to be followed to ensure that the same policies are not used to exploit others in the society. There is a need for more forums to ensure absolute representation of the masses.
Presentation against the proposal
Citizen participation in public policy may not necessarily work or facilitate the much needed changes. This is due to the technicalities that are involved in the implementation of the policies. Policy makers are required to be a people that are skilled to ensure that want is presented will stand the test of time. Involving the entire population derails the process and makes it difficult for the policy makers to do what they are meant to do. They are usually faced with they dilemma of implementing policies that they have tested and subsequently proved that they will stand the test of time and making policies basically to please the citizens. Skilled policy makers implement policies basing on a number of factors. When the public is involved in the same, it basically means an individual is looking at what will be beneficial to them rather than their friends. This means that the opinions that are collected will be full of personal and selfish decisions that will not work well for the good of the public. For the states that have allowed the participation of the public in making policies have ended up not implementing most of the suggestions presented. It is because, when such ideas and suggestions are critically analyzed, they are found to be unpractical. It hence becomes a waste of time and resources.
Adams, B., (2007). Citizen lobbyists: local efforts to influence public policy. London: Temple University Press.
Buss, T. et al, (2006). Modernizing democracy: innovations in citizen participation. New York: M.E. Sharpe.
Rabin, J., (2003). Encyclopedia of public administration and public policy, Volume 1. California: Marcel Dekker.
Renn, O., (1995). Fairness and competence in citizen participation: evaluating models for environmental discourse. London: Springer.