For unlimited access to Study Guides, a Grade+ subscription is required.
Discussion Set #3
September 17, 2019
What is public policy? Give a mature and nuanced definition and description, rather than a
superficial "textbook" definition.
Public policy is the government’s action to address a problem in the public domain. Policy can
either be obvious or it can also be less transparent and clear. Policy is the rule, how it was
developed, and how it is implemented. Therefore, the concept of policy is vague and broad.
Public policy is both the action and the inaction the government takes toward a situation. When
the government chooses to not do something, this is public policy too. Public policy is both
static and dynamic, meaning it is a process and a product of that process. Public policy is static
when it is the finished product, rule, or law that exists at that time. Public policy is dynamic
when it is a process of the product being made and decided upon. Public policy is also always
changing, evolving, and developing, meaning it is dynamic. A policy can be dynamic while it is
being developed, but when it is signed and decided upon then it is static. It becomes dynamic
again when the bureaucracy implements the policy and changes and adapts is to fit the public.
The policy then gets evaluated and tweaked if necessary, in its dynamic state. It is both dynamic
and static at the same time, because while the policy is being implemented and tweaked, there is
a written and published document of the policy or law.
Public policy usually is due to the response to public demand. There are multiple of
other reasons as to why a policy is created, including a policy maker pushing their own “pet
idea” or a response to a natural disaster. There are times when the government needs to be
proactive, but typically policy is a response to the public. There is usually a sponsor or
champion of the policy that pushes the piece of legislation in session. Policy is also
authoritative, meaning it must be obeyed; however, there is room for interpretation. This is
where agency drift comes into play and the policy is implemented in several different ways due
to administrators of the policy interpreting in their own way. Because public policy is
authoritative and must be obeyed, the government is sometimes seen as intrusive. Examples
include making the public wearing their seatbelts and banning phrases, such as “rule of thumb”
and “bang for the buck.” The public policy in its dynamic state includes the process of public
policy. The steps in the policy process include: 1. Problem identification and agenda setting,
2. Formulation and adoption, 3. Implementation, 4. Evaluation.
Name and describe in some detail the steps in the policy process. Explain what is meant by the
notion of "unintended consequences of policies."
The first step in the policy process is problem identification and agenda setting. The agenda
is a list of the issues the legislative branch is currently looking at and working on. At this stage,
policy makers notice the public’s concern about an issue and try to respond. The issues policy