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University of Guelph
Political Science
POLS 3250

Chapter 1 Policy Analysis Concepts and PracticePublic policies provide guidance for government officials and accountability links to citizensPolicies become visible and measurable to the public they become key tests of the governments records at election time What is Public PolicyThe very nature of intelligent and accountable governance in a democracy demands more than mere decisionsrequires decision making guided by a frameworkPublic policy course of action or inaction chosen by public authorities to address a given problem or interrelates set of problemsFramework policies are guides to a range of related actions in a given fieldPolicymaker someone who develops these guidesPolicytaker someone who operates within that policy frameworkWhen a policy is changed the actions that take pace within its framework are reconfigures to yield different results o Howlett and Ramesh said public policy is at its simplest a choice made by government to undertake some course of action EX Issue of recognizing same sex marriage o Rochefort and Cobb note that decision making in crisis situations is synonymous with an emergency mentality that enables quick responses but also tended to produce temporary BandAid solutions to major public problemsPublic policy is seen as a means of dealing with problems and sometimes opportunities policies are largely instrumental tools to tackle issues of concern to the political community o In public policy making using the right tool means both using the tool that is best suited and the tool that is consistent with a morally acceptable range of government behaviourPolicy development process of shaping policy initiatives from problem recognition to implementation and evaluation The most important overarching value in public policy is the public interestThe fundamental value of public service is loyalty to the public interest or the public good o Taxation at most basic level it is about generating revenue for the government o Taxes are also used as instruments that encourage or discourage certain kinds of behaviour EX Lower business taxesencourages investment higher sin taxes on alcohol and cigarettesmight discourage drinking and smokingRational model a systematic approach to problemsolving that lays out the problem reviews options and makes recommendations based on the intersection between goals and factual circumstancesPolicy is what governments actually do not what they intend or sayEmergent strategies consistent patterns of behaviour that emerge or form rather than being planned Policy Statement defines the problem sets the goals that are to be achieved and indicates the instruments or means whereby the problem is to be addressed and the goals achievedProblem definition considered the central element of a policy statementit indicates what the problem and the issue isand some of the casual factors behind it Key Elements of a PolicyProblems must be recognized and defined the recognition of a problem is just a sense of something wrong defining a problem gives it a meaningThe process of problem definition can either be exhaustive or casualProblems usually come in clusters and so problem definitions typically operate across a range of dimensionsProblems can sometimes appear in an external form of a substantially changed context or situation more like new realities or opportunities to which we have to adaptAll problem definitions indicate what the problem or issue is and bundle that with some indication of the factors that led to it in the first place Policy definitions are bound to policy goals 2 branches o General goals policy goals that enjoy a consensus or that express the broadest objectives of the policy initiative as a whole EX Health care policy o Policyspecific goals goals related to the broader ones but more directly connected to the programs that give the policy effect EX Having a health care policy that is aimed at improving services for atrisk youth for things such as reduced pregnancy substance abusePolicy instrumentsmeans by which the problem is to be addressed and the goals achievedInstrument choice can be significantly constrained by perceptions of legitimacyLegitimacy is elastic and will change with circumstances and it is culturally contingent such as opening safe injection sites for heroin addictsInstrument choice can be limited by legal restrictions such as limits on spending programs due to high deficit levels limits to taxation and regulatory policies in global environment Policy space the wider field within which a given single policy operates in relation to others that tackle different elements of the problemPolicies are expected to have an o Internal consistency consistency among the 3 elements of problem definition goals and instruments o Vertically consistent consistency between the broad policy framework and the specific programs that implement that framework o Horizontal consistency consistency across policy fields not just within them an expectation that what governments do in one field will not contradict what they do in another What Is Public Policy AnalysisPolicy analysis defined as the disciplines application of intellect to public problems 2 It is systematicproceeds logically through a series of clearly defined stages to come to a conclusion Core principles in the use of expert knowledge in the policy processAccountability plurality integrity openness participation effectiveness coherence proportionality subsidiaryPolicy analysis should be disciplined and systematicthere needs to be both good and bad analysisHas an element of interpretation and perspective a form of practical reason relies on good deal of judgment experience explorationUnintentional bias needs to be removed genderbased analysis was used a process that assesses the differential impact of public policies programs and legislation on women and men in terms of their social and economic circumstancesGender mainstreaming a strategy to ensure that a gender perspective is reflected in all types of organizational activitiesPolicies are also complicated by cultural biases Policy analysis is itself a specific form of inquiryOne may reason about policy in several legitimate waysthese are the types of reasoning o Normative analyzes policy in reference to basic values and ethical principles o Legal analyzes policy in terms of jurisdiction and consistency with legislation or the charter o Logical analyzes policy in terms of internal vertical and horizontal consistency ad whether it makes sense o Empirical analyzes policy in relation to impacts and effects costs and administrationObject of AnalysisProcess the various determinants of a policy the actors and institutions that shaped itContent problem definition goals instrumentsOutcomes legislation regulations actual impact of effectThis breakdown and definition of policy analysis deliberately excludes some other ways of knowingthe system of rationalism BOX 11The Rational Decisionmaking Modelused in making rational decisions in application to policy analysis here o Choose Objectives know what one wishes to doaccomplish have a statement of the problem as well as the goals o Consider alternatives identify the means by which the goalsobjectives may be attained o Outline Impacts every decision has a costbenefit positivenegative impactsthey must be measures 3
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