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The environment from which proposals for new policies emerge is a confused, unpredictable, and complex maelstrom of social problems: Public Policy Making Assignment, UOG, Ireland

University University Of Galway (UOG)
Subject Public Policy Making

The environment from which proposals for new policies emerge is a confused, unpredictable, and complex maelstrom of social problems, collective goals, competing interests, and ideas. The transition from the identification of a social problem to the articulation of a demand for action by the government is mediated by the institutional and organizational structures of the polity and by the principles or modes of governance in place. We explore issues around social problems and collective goals in more detail in Lesson 3.

The way a social problem is defined will determine which policy agenda it will appear on, and has an important bearing on what solutions may be put forward to address it. For instance, in different circumstances, unemployment could be seen as a failure in education or training, a result of a lack of competitiveness in the economy, or an unintended consequence of expenditure by the state on social welfare. How it is presented matters. We will study this in more detail in Lesson 4, including how issues come to government attention and who is involved in this process, when we examine policy/issue framing and agenda setting.

The manner in which policies are formulated is usually examined in the first instance by reference to the legal and constitutional framework within which politicians and public servants operate. The design of a policy programme will include an understanding of the objectives to be achieved, the causal model linking the programme to changes in the behaviour of target groups, the policy instruments, systems and procedures to be used and, in most cases, specific targets, cost estimates and performance measures to be monitored. Policy formulation and adoption are discussed in greater detail in Lesson 5.

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