Law and Politics

Start Free Trial

Discussion Topic

Explanation of the Five-Step Policymaking Process: Setting the Agenda, Framing the Issue, Forming the Policy, Implementing Policy, and Evaluating Policy, including what each step means, who is involved, and how it affects the outcome

Summary:

The Five-Step Policymaking Process includes: Setting the Agenda, where issues are prioritized by policymakers; Framing the Issue, involving defining and presenting the problem; Forming the Policy, where solutions are developed; Implementing Policy, which entails putting the policy into action; and Evaluating Policy, assessing the policy's effectiveness. Each step involves various stakeholders and significantly impacts the policy's success.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Explain the following 5 step policy making process, explaining what it means, who is involved, and how it affects the outcome. The steps are setting the agenda, framing the issue, forming the policy, implementing policy, and evaluating policy.

There is no credible, successful organization that does not follow the basic pattern laid out in your question. The process may have different labels or may have a few more procedural steps, or may have a slightly different order, but this is how most organizations function. This being the case, it is desirable to understand the process well to be as effective and efficient as possible once a resolution to action occurs. A case example will illustrate how the process works.

Let’s assume an organization involved in the delivery of health services to a poor rural community is facing a dilemma. The organization is a not-for-profit entity whose mission is to serve rural poor people with critical primary health services. Recently, a large for-profit health provider was the recipient of a substantial grant to provide health services to underserved populations outside of urban areas. The for-profit entity has approached the board of directors for the not-for-profit organization. They are proposing to purchase the assets of the nonprofit organization and take over the responsibility of care for the residents. Once the transaction is complete, the board for the nonprofit will dissolve, and the for-profit health provider will make all decisions. The nonprofit board splits between the health providers who see an opportunity to get needed equipment and access to services for their patient population, and community activists who mistrust the motivations of the for-profit. The activists believe once the board dissolves, the funds from the grant will not be spent in their area. The committee schedules a meeting to resolve the issue.

Framing the Issue: As simplistic as it sounds, before a policy item is placed on the agenda, all parties need to acknowledge a problem exists, and policy will resolve it. Framing the issue is critical to the process of policymaking and problem resolution. In framing the issue, the matter must be stated clearly in unambiguous terms. All perspectives should be represented in the framing process.

In the case example, the issue is framed by the not-for-profit and for-profit boards.

Agenda Setting: Typically, in most organizations, meeting agendas are set by the highest levels of the organization. The purpose of an agenda is to give participants a roadmap as to what will be discussed, determine the framework in which presentations will be allowed, and provide a notice of a policy. Agendas should be concise and to the point. Participants clearly understand what is expected of them during the discussion. A poorly constructed agenda usually results in wasted time, miscommunication, and poor outcomes.

The agenda is set by the party with the most to gain or lose. In the case example, the nonprofit board, with input from the for-profit, will set the agenda.

Forming the Policy: A policy is a response to a perceived problem or a perceived need for action. Policy formation on significant issues will not happen in one meeting. Several subcommittees, the public, and others will want to have input in the final product—the policy. The policy addresses the issue and the issue only.

Forming the policy occurs in and out of the meeting. Any of the stakeholders will have access to someone or committee charged with formulating the policy. In the case example, board members, health providers, community activists, and the general public will have input in the policy.

Implementing the Policy: Once a decision has been made and policy formulated to address the issue, the critical stage is implementation. This is a stage where the best intentions of policy can swiftly go awry. The intent and execution have to be perfectly synced.

For this example, regardless of the decision to merge or dissolve, the providers of the services should be responsible for implementation. For the implementation stage, it is desirable to have the people closest to the front lines and with the most practical application experience to implement the plan.

Evaluating Policy: The evaluation stage is vital to the overall implementation. The evaluation provides critical information if a policy is performing as intended or are tweaks needed to get the policy back on track. Evaluating the plan is also a means to assess the people involved in the initial phases. Is the strategy successful because of the personnel committed to the project?

In this example, ideally, an independent evaluator with no stake in the outcome evaluates the success of the policy. Left to the stakeholders, personal agendas might overshadow the intent.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Explain the following five-step policymaking process (what it means, who is involved, how it affects the outcome, etc.): 1. Setting the Agenda, 2. Framing the Issue, 3. Forming the Policy, 4. Implementing Policy, and 5. Evaluating Policy.

Public policy implementation in the twenty-first century does not happen in a vacuum. In the best-case scenario, crafting and implementation of policy includes recognition of the law of unintended consequences. Any new law, regulation, or project planned by the government will have unforeseen ramifications for those affected.

Thorough public policy planning uses a five-step process to enhance benefits and reduce problems for the people, businesses, and area involved. This involves repeated meetings with stakeholders, meetings with the general public, earned media coverage, and other efforts to ensure public knowledge and transparency.

The first step lies in bringing together stakeholders to set an agenda and organize efforts. Generally, this will involve a number of government officials, including elected representatives at the local and state level. Staff members from US Senate and House of Representatives are almost always involved with any important public policy movements, even in the smallest of towns. They usually have the best big-picture perspective on any policy because of the breadth of their work. Local and state economic development officials, representatives from chambers of commerce, and others round out the usual list of those involved.

Additionally, this step commences the process of evidence-gathering. Questions can include the following: What has happened regarding this issue in the past? Have any relevant studies been conducted on this subject?

An agenda-setting process brings together a number of elements to discuss. This can sometimes involve a very dialectical approach. Attendees discuss a status quo that needs to be changed, then consider various ways that public policy efforts can bring positive impacts. Best results come when those involved embrace limited and attainable goals, rather than overly idealistic ones. Limited and attainable goals can more effectively bring the desired changes, because they focus on actions rather than words and more abstract concepts. As plans become more idealistic and larger in scope, action often gets lost in discussion. Achievements too often degenerate into “we tried” rather than “we did it.”

When inviting public comment and involvement, remember that opposition comes from two different sets of people. Some have legitimate concerns, and their input can be very helpful. Others, especially in smaller towns, have a track record of opposing everything. Instead of resolution of problems, they enjoy grandstanding. Policymakers must employ wisdom when discerning the reasons for opposition while trying to work with it when possible.

Sometimes the right approach can win over even determined opponents. For example, Thomas Jefferson opposed the US Constitution until he saw it in action.

Agenda-setting often moves directly into framing the issue. In other cases, the issue has been well framed prior to setting the agenda. Either way, the issue must be framed in an organized and understandable fashion. This will make it easier to involve those affected in the process, implement the policy, and sell it to the community at large.

Forming the policy introduces the fundamentals of how the policy will take shape. Those crafting the policy will put together specific details of how it will work and predict expected benefits and other results. Policymaking should be flexible enough to account for the unexpected but must also have enough guidelines to keep it on track toward accomplishing the mission.

Policy formation also includes the setting of concrete goals in both the long and the short term. Meeting those goals should be the primary means of determining both effectiveness and continuance.

It also involves the most important step: finding the money.

In most cases, policy formation involves approaching the government with one’s hand extended to request money. Government funding generally comes in one of a few ways. A legislative body with the approval of a chief executive might appropriate funds through legislation. A governor, president, or mayor may approve monies from a discretionary fund as well.

Most of the time, however, funding comes from federal or state grants. Application for either requires specific information that can only come once the policy idea has almost fully formed. In many cases, a government or group must apply repeatedly before earning the grant.

In many occasions, a federal grant may require a preliminary study, also funded by a grant, to determine if the policy is worthy of funding. A cottage industry of consultants has emerged to help communities without expertise in grant writing have a better shot at competing with better funded governments for grant money.

Nonprofit foundations may also serve as important sources of funding.

Once a policy has been planned and funded, administrators will move toward implementing the policy. The main challenges in implementation come when the crafters of the policy hand it off to administrators. Government officials in charge of implementation will bring different ideas and interpretations to the policy. Elected officials or department chiefs need to regularly monitor the policy to ensure that it does not lose focus on the main issue or engage in “mission creep.” Mission creep occurs when a policy evolves to encompass so many other issues that it loses sight of the original problem.

Implementation also almost never occurs without obstacles and frustrations. These can come from continued community opposition, elected officials who disagree with and may even disrupt the policy, and common errors that plague every new endeavor. Officials must practice tact at the same time as resilience during the first months of the policy to ensure that it maintains positive momentum.

Usually years after implementation, governments should perform an evaluation of policy. This can come from a variety of sources. Officials should provide online or in-person forums for public feedback. The wisest of communities budget for an evaluation study in their policy grant proposal. This allows them to hire professional firms with experience in giving communities answers to policy questions.

The policy-planning process, if done right, will include concrete goals that it should reasonably achieve over time. Perception of success most often rides on how well the policy accomplishes its goals while building public support or at least acquiescence.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Explain the following five-step policymaking process (what it means, who is involved, how it affects the outcome, etc.). 1) Setting the Agenda, 2) Framing the Issue, 3) Forming the Policy, 4) Implementing Policy, and 5) Evaluating Policy.

The five stage model is an analytical framework which divides the public policy developmental process into five distinct stages:

1) Setting the Agenda

At this stage, a social problem is acknowledged to be of interest to the public, and a policy to address the problem is placed on the government's agenda. In order to convince the government to consider a specific policy, groups must 1) identify a social problem, 2) articulate what makes it problematic, 3) come up with possible solutions,and 4) draw the attention of policy-makers to the problem and solutions.

Setting the agenda is generally done by actors such as lobbyists, activists, and the common public.

The creation of a policy is dependent upon this stage. This stage sets the stage for prioritizing specific issues to be addressed by policy. How the issue is framed at this stage also influences the final outcome.

2) Framing the Issue

At this stage, the concerned policymaking body identifies the stakeholders of the specific problem and solution. They also define the exact nature/interpretation of the problem as well as the possible solution(s). Generally, different groups of stakeholders advocate for their own interpretation and propose solutions.

This stage is a negotiation between policymakers and groups of stakeholders. Each group tries to influence the policymakers to adopt their interpretation of the social problem and implement their proposed solutions.

This stage determines the power dynamics between different coalitions of social actors who are influenced by the policy.

3) Forming the Policy

At this stage, policymakers take decisions about the specific approaches that will be taken to address the problems. This stage also involves making decisions about the practical concerns involved in implementing a policy, like how many resources will be devoted to implementation of the policy.

This stage primarily involves governmental actors who draft the exact language of the policy proposal and then vote on it.

This stage significantly impacts the actual tangible effects of the policy as well as its efficacy at solving the problem identified in stage 1.

4) Implementation

At this stage, the executive branch of the government sets in motion the regulations set out in step 3. According to the directives set out in step 3, resources are allocated and administration structures are built to make the policy a reality.

The implementation of a policy is dependent on a combination of government actors and stakeholders of the policy. The interconnected group of actors who are involved in this process are referred to as the policy network.

This stage significantly impacts the exact groups who are affected by the policy and the extent to which the problem is addressed.

5) Evaluating Policy

At this stage, the policy is examined to determine its efficacy. The precise impact of the policy is compared to the objectives set out in stages 1 and 2. Then, the logistical decisions made in steps 3 are examined to determine if making changes would increase efficiency.

The evaluation of a policy may be done by the government, independent private consultants, the stakeholders, or by the general public.

The results of this stage determine whether a policy is continued, amended, or terminated.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on