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Public Policy-Making and Analysis in the US

The Policy-Making Process

The first stage of the policy process identified by James Anderson is the policy agenda stage, which involves problem identification and agenda-setting. The decision on what problems should be given attention is arrived at in this stage (Anderson 4). In the UAE, the most important role is played by the governing council. The second stage is the policy formulation which involves creating or identifying potential options and alternatives to solve the problems. This role is played by the national policy committee. The third stage is policy adoption which entails analyzing the proposed alternatives to determine the ones that best solve the problem. Issues such as the enactment of the policy, its contents, and requirements for enactment are deliberated at this stage. In the UAE, the governing council plays the most important role here. The fourth stage in Anderson’s model is the policy implementation stage, which focuses on applying the adopted policies. In the UAE, this is the role of the Emirs. Evaluation is the last stage of the policy process and is intended to measure the effectiveness of the policy. The policy is measured against the set goals and objectives. This role is played by the national policy committee.

Policy Process and Policy Analysis

The study of the policy process differs from policy analysis in that it is primarily concerned with the figures and institutions that are responsible for making decisions about the policy direction. It also focuses on the factors that inform the decisions arrived at by the individual policymakers and policy making institutions (Weimer and Vining 19). On the other hand, policy analysis is concerned with solving the relentless issues that need policy solutions. Once the issue has been identified, it is the responsibility of the government to decide on the actions that should be taken to address the issue. The questions asked in studies of the policy process include the role of the legislature and its structure in the decision-making process and what influences the decisions arrived at by the legislators. Such questions not only aid in understanding policymaking but also shed light on how the government operates (Weimer and Vining 46). In policy analysis, questions such as what should be done to solve the problems, whose duty is it, and what is the most rational way to solve the problem are frequently asked.

The focus of researchers studying the policy process is primarily centered on the formulation of public policy. It lays emphasis on how policy problems are identified, brought to government attention, and how solutions are arrived at (William 256). This is important to understand the policy cycle as well as to explain how policy changes. On the other hand, the focus of researchers studying policy analysis is centered on finding solutions to the problems. Researchers are concerned with weighing alternatives to come up with a solution that best fixes the problem. Policy analysts rely on theoretical frameworks such as the rationalist approach and the post-positivist approach to find solutions to the policy problems at hand (Miewald 124).

Approaches to Policy Analysis

The post-positivists denounce the rationalist approach to public policy due to various reasons. To begin with, they assert that rationalist’s approach is too simplistic as it basically focuses on how to achieve the desired values while ignoring other fundamental aspects, such as political conflict or dispute, which play a vital role in dictating the direction of policy (Smith and Larimer 27). The post-positivists concur that there are other factors that dictate the direction of public policy. Additionally, rationalists assume that the favored values are supported by a general consensus, which in many instances is not the case. Proponents of post-positivism argue that these assumptions may jeopardize the policymaking process.

The post-positivists also assert that the rationalist approach entrenches the status quo by enforcing hierarchical and bureaucratic power systems, where the country’s elite have a major say in the formulation and direction of the policy process and analysis (Smith and Larimer 27). The type of policymaking advocated by rationalism therefore ignores the role of citizens in policy-making by elevating experts and technocrats into policy-making positions. The political decision-makers are at times value-driven and hesitant to formulate policies that don’t rally their desired values.

Ethics in Policy Analysis

Two options that I would take consistent with the voice option are to protest and issue an ultimatum for the client to respect the ethical code before proceeding with the policy analysis. I would threaten to quit unless the client acts in a professional and morally upright manner. As for the exit option, I would most probably speak out until silenced and if this doesn’t work, I would resign and make a disclosure about the misgivings of the client for further investigation. Regarding the disloyalty option, I would sabotage the process and leak the intentions of the client so that others understand the reasons behind my stand. When all other mechanisms have failed, I will resort to whistleblowing so as to inform the superiors about the unethical behavior of the client (Weimer and Vining 34).

In both cases, I would not want to go against the finding of the research is proceeding with the policy analysis. This would be detrimental to my personal values of integrity and ethical responsibility. By careful evaluation of my roles as an objective technician, issue advocate, and client advocate, I will be in a better position to determine the right course of action (Weimer and Vining 36). If my client is my supervisor in the government, I would seek further clarification from the supervisor to understand the reasons behind such unprofessional conduct. If there are no solid grounds to justify the conduct, I will be necessitated to take the voice and exit options. However, I will be very cautious about sabotaging the process, as this might have a negative implication on the process. If the client is from private interest, I would not consider resigning but rather I would sabotage the process and leak the case to my superiors for further investigation.

Works Cited

Anderson, James. Public Policies and Politics in the United States. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole,1984. Print.

Miewald, Rachael. Public Administration Critical Perspective. New Jersey: McGraw-Hill.

Publishers, 2004. Print.

Smith, Kevin and Christopher Larimer. The Public Administration Theory Primer. New York:Westview Press, 2011. Print.

Weimer, Daivd and Aidan Vining. Policy analysis. Boston : Longman, 2011. Print.

William, Dunn. Public Policy Analysis: An Introduction. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall,2008. Print.

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