Policy Making And Policy Cycles Politics Essay

After reading, the list of definitions given that seek to capture the essence of policy-making, choose the one (excluding the last one) that seems to be the least satisfactory and explain why in a series of points (up to 300 words). Consider what the definition seems to leave out, and draw on the other definitions to suggest your answer. Examine the diagram of the policy cycle provided, and list three organizations, institutions, or policy actors (people-in-position) who you might expect to be involved in any ONE stage of the cycle shown.

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What is Public Policy? A dozen definitions to ponder:

“Policy analysis is finding out what governments do, why they do it, and what difference it makes.” (Dye, T.R. 1976, Policy Analysis , Tuscaloosa, Ala., University of Alabama Press)

“A policy may usefully be considered as a course of action or inaction rather than specific decisions or actions.” (Heclo, H. 1972, ‘Review article: policy analysis’, British Journal of Political Science , 2, pp. 83-108)

“A policy … consists of a web of decisions and actions that allocate … values.” (Easton, D. 1953, The Political System , New York, Knopf)

“Policy is a committed structure of important resources.” (Schaffer, Bernard 1977, ‘On the Politics of Policy’, Australian Journal of Politics and History 23 (1), pp. 146-55)

Policy is ” a set of inter-related decisions … concerning the selection of goals and the means of achieving them within a specified situation.” (Jenkins, W.I. 1978, Policy Analysis , London, Martin Robertson)

“Policy is essentially a stance which, once articulated, contributes to the context within which a succession of future decisions will be made.” (Friend J.K., J.M. Power and C.J.L. Yewlett 1974, Public Planning: The intercorporate dimension , London, Tavistock)

“Public policy consists of continuing patterns of political and administrative activity that are shaped both by deliberate decisions and by the interplay of political and environmental forces.” (Hawker, G., R.F.I. Smith and Patrick Weller 1979, Politics and Policy in Australia , St Lucia, University of Queensland Press.)

“Policy is a process as well as a product. It is used to refer to a process of decision-making and also to the product of that process.” (Wildavsky, Aaron 1979, Speaking Truth to Power: the art and craft of policy analysis , Boston, Little, Brown)

“Public policy is the complex interplay of values, interests and resources … policies represent victories or compromises encapsulated as programs for action by government.” (Davis, G., J. Wanna, J. Warhurst and P. Weller 1993, Public Policy in Australia , 2 nd edition, St Lucia, University of Queensland)

Policy is “usually considered to apply to something bigger than particular decisions, but smaller than general social movements.” (Heclo, H. 1972, ‘Review article: policy analysis’, British Journal of Political Science , 2, pp. 83-108)

“Governments and ministers, of course, make policy.” (Thompson 1988)

“Policy is rather like the elephant – you recognize it when you see it but cannot readily define it.” (Cunningham, G. 1963, ‘Policy and practice’, Public Administration 41, pp. 229-38)


The next least satisfactory answer seems to be:

11. “Governments and ministers, of course, make policy.” (Thompson 1988)

No doubt, the above sentence is somewhat correct in its quotation but it hardly gives an insight of what public policy is?

Let us examine the diagram of policy cycle:

A public policy is first & foremost about identifying issues i.e. determining objectives or societal goals.

A careful analysis of the issues needed for the policy to achieve its goal effectively & efficiently keeping in view the various policy instruments.

A good public policy involves attention to process for coordination.

The policy decisions should seek basis of careful assessment of the gains desired by any measure, the cost it involves & the cumulative burden of regulation on those who will be responsible for its implementation.

A good public policy holds the basis of learning from experience. It involves utilizing the available resource & evidence about the emerged problems.

Policy evaluation should involve obtaining feedback from those who implement & deliver policies & services.

We may think of it as ‘a structured commitment of important resources’ including organizations, discourses and technologies of rule. It has to be understood as part of the institutionalization of social practice, the way that public authority is mobilized to shape practice in multiple and diverse fields of action.

We must not forget that the authorized leaders like elected politicians have a strategic place in the process, but it is not just the implementation of their preferences. In any case, while legitimating the outcome their electorally grounded legitimacy will make an impact.

In policy cycle, the three policy actors involved in ‘CONSULTATION’ stage of the Bridgman and Davis cycle are:

The end users (public)


Those who will implement it (government)

Policy Analysis, policy practice and political Science, Blackwell publishing limited (2005) By H.K. Colebatch

Quiz # 2

Nominate one example of privatization in Australia over the last twenty years and state briefly the major motivation for the privatization that a writer from each of the four perspectives (pluralist, elitist, Marxist, corporatist) might be likely to emphasize. You may need to check sources beyond the readings to clarify your understanding of these perspectives.

(Word Limit: 300)


The GIO received its legal status by Government Insurance Act 1927 and initially dealt solely with worker’s compensation as a branch of NSW treasury. In 1990, GIO changed its name to GIO Australia.

The privatization of GIO in 1992 has three most important dimensions:

The effect on the operation of GIO itself

Unexpected profitability

Increase in Net Assets

Pleased shareholders with the better dividend offered

Productive efficiency of organization grew

The effects on broader Australian Insurance Industry

It reduces the overall industry efficiency initially but managed later.

Effect on the ‘Net Worth’ of NSW government

It reduces the net worth of public sector

Under pricing of privatized assets

The privatization of GIO in Australia was a major success.

Major motivation for the privatization from the perspective of:


“Access to non-traditional resources for investment in the infrastructure due to privatization”

A pluralist is someone who believes that distinct, culture and religious groups could exist in society hence, privatization will allow access to non-traditional resources to all.


“A much stronger management capability due to its ability to recruit and compensate qualified manager after privatization”

Elitist is someone who believes in rule by superiors hence, they would certainly seek powerful management capability.


“Better company specific labor management is assured in privatized organization”

Marxist relates themselves with radical thinking hence would certainly expect better facilities for labors in the organization.


“Relative freedom to operate outside of political and bureaucratic constraint”

Corporatist is a supporter of corporatism. He will be looking forward for open business opportunities & will certainly seek freedom to operate free from political barriers.

The privatization of GIO Australia: Success or Failure? By Anthony Casey & Brian Dollery

( http://www.unescap.org/ttdw/Publications/TFS_pubs/Pub_1855/Pub_1855_Ch4.pdf)

Quiz #3:

1. Who might be involved in an ‘institutional and players’ model of the policy-making process?

2. List 3 organizations, institutions, or policy actors (people-in-position) who you might expect to involve in any ONE stage of the Bridgman and Davis cycle.


The policymaking process is getting complex as compared to earlier scenario with the involvement of institutions & different players. The research reveals that the number of players involved in the public policy process have expanded significantly in last few years.

The officers from the Department of Family & Community Services (FaCS- that provides income support at the time of the research) talks about the presence of external stakeholder groups, other departments including Finance & Administration (DoFA), Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) and Prime Minister and cabinet (PM&C).

Social policymaking has become highly pluralistic to the degree that all assumptions and decisions are now debatable; each one is trying to fit his leg in. The involvement of multiple parties leads to a tremendous amount of internal competition between social policy proposals. The unified view is lacking within the government in relation to the social policy priorities. Most of the policy processes now involves many decision makers operating at different levels of the government.

The Policy Cycle: A model of Post-Machiavellian Policymaking? ,Reasearch By Dept. of Political Science & Public Administration

In policy cycle, the three policy actors involved in ‘CONSULTATION’ stage of the Bridgman and Davis cycle are:

The end users:

It gives an opportunity to end users to participate in number of ways. A good policy results out of consults with the end user, as they are the target of the policy.


Experts provide an overview of any risk or benefits associated with the policy.

Those who will implement it:

The players involved in policy making who decide it all from the analysis to evaluation phase at different levels in the hierarchy.

Policy Analysis, policy practice and political Science, Blackwell publishing limited (2005) By H.K. Colebatch

Quiz #4:

(Points: 5)

Attempt to formulate two general rules that any budding policy entrepreneur should seek to adopt. Suggest one way in which one or the other rule could be `brought undone.


Two general rules that any budding policy entrepreneur should seek to adopt:

Innovation & Creativity while attaching Solutions to Problems:

Any entrepreneur should mark the emergence & development of creative and innovative ideas with reference to a problem, some need or concern. They should be able to devise new ideas and techniques, new dimensions of the policy, crucial matching of problems or solutions. They should be able to identify and discover the unfulfilled needs in the areas of social & political activity. While selling an idea the entrepreneur need to explain the nature of the problem as he feels it & after doing this, he must come up with the suggestion of the innovative idea that will take care of the problem. Therefore, overall the entrepreneur should act as catalyst of innovative change playing the center of the creative phase of the innovation process in order to attach a solution to a problem.

Alertness to the Opportunity & Strategic sense:

An entrepreneur should be always alert & open to all opportunities or changes coming in. Identifying the opportunity is central to understanding the policy process. As there are any changes in the political stream, a window opens providing entrepreneur with a chance to define the problem for decision-makers & push their solutions.

The policy proposals must defined them in a way that appeals to the decision makers. For policy entrepreneurs it is to the creation of policy images that they are required to turn their hand & their mind according to the modification of the perception of an issue.

The entrepreneur just has to ensure that he identifies the opportunities at the right moment and relate it to as a problem in the current scenario and devising a solution for it strategically such that it turns out to be beneficial at the outcome.

Australian Journal of political science: Policy Entrepreneurship in Australia, 2004 ,P 367 By Chris Machenzie

Quiz #5

(Points: 5)

Nominate one instance where implementation ‘went wrong’. Can you say why?

What might be some of the differences between a political evaluation and a technical evaluation of a policy? Can you give an example?


We must measure a policy not only in terms of its appeal but also in light of its implement ability.

Let us discuss a practical example,

In Queensland, consultant Peter Forster (2005) who led the independent review of public hospitals was particularly critical of central agency and head office officials for worsening to realize and address general problems of under-funding, workload issues, and the difficulties of recruiting and retaining appropriately qualified staff to work in the state’s public hospital system. Forster (2005) describes a major ‘expectation gap’ between what politicians and the public expect can be delivered and what service systems are actually capable of.

Anyone could easily figure out the lack of monetary resources faced by the public hospitals leading to the under-funding issues and absence of proper management in the hospital to take proper action for it. The staffs might not be getting salaries on time or not getting complete payment because of which they are not staying for long and quit.

Building capacity for policy implementation, Griffith University ByAnne Tiernan

Difference between a political evaluation and a technical evaluation of a policy:

A technical evaluation deals with the evaluation of the procedure or the methods involved in the implementation of a policy. However, a political evaluation deals with the legitimate outcome of the policy.

Technical evaluation focuses on the correct execution and availability of the required resources for the execution of any task as per the norms or rules devised by the policy. However, a political evaluation includes the details of cost incurred in implementation & the extent of its implementation in the system & expected outcome.

For example, an environmental policy induced to put constraints on the emission of smoke or pollutants from vehicles after a defined certain limit would be punishable. The government just has to ensure that the policy helps to reduce the pollution level and implementation of the policy takes place everywhere. The technical evaluation deals will setting the parameter for the smoke emission from the engine, vehicle modification rules etc.

Quiz# 6

(Points: 5)

Describe the difference between the three types of Parliamentary Committees. Provide an example of ONE type, explaining briefly, what it does.


The Western Australian Parliament uses three general types of committees. The difference lies in their functionality.

Committees of inquiry: The house appoints these Committees of inquiry to inquire into matters, the subject of business before the relevant House, or matters of public policy or government.

Domestic committees: Domestic committees are committees established to consider matters of internal parliamentary administration.

Committee of the whole House: The ‘Committee of the whole House’ is the House itself in a less formal show. It is presided over by a ‘Chairman of Committees’ rather than the Presiding Officer and conducts its business according to more flexible rules of procedure. Only the Legislative Council operates by way of a ‘Committee of the whole’.

Let us discuss Committees of Inquiry:

In western Australia, the committee systems of legislative council & legislative assembly has categorized two broad categories of committees of enquiry:

Standing committees:

These are established and appointment of members takes place at the beginning of each Parliament. The committees have continuity until the Legislative Assembly expires or dissolved earlier to the next State general election. Standing orders have established legislative Council standing committees and their existence survives dissolution. Accordingly, the standing committees continue from one Parliament to the next. Standing Committees have a defined set of functions to perform (terms of reference) and may initiate their own inquiries within their terms of reference.

Select committees:

To carry out a specialized inquiry into a particular matter, select committees are established. They have a limited life, the terms of their appointment define them, and usually dissolve once their inquiry is completed or if Parliament is prorogued (whichever event first occurs).

Committee System of the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly, 2011 By Parliament of West Australia

Quiz #7

State what a critic might say has been lost from the system of public service accountability over the last twenty years; and state what a response from a defender of the current system might be.


Consider Mr. xyz was appointed to the office of secretary of the department for a term of five years commencing in February 1998. In July 1999, some 18 month after his appointment, the secretary to PM& C advised him that the Governer general on the advice of the Prime minister would terminate his appointment in Early August.

Mr. xyz successfully sought a declaration from the federal court that he was entitled to procedural fairness, including an opportunity to be heard, before any recommendation was made by the prime minister to terminate his employment. The justice said, because he is the holder of public office & the ‘Public Service Act 1922’ regulates his appointment hence, the obligation to provide procedural fairness arises. The justice said that procedural fairness requires the applicant:

Be told the grounds upon which a recommendation is to make a proposal to the Governor-general that his appointed be `terminated, and he is entitled to be heard in relation to those grounds or reasons.

Mr. xyz was consequently advised by letter dated 20 August 1999 from the secretary to PM& C that he was considering whether to report to the prime minister that Mr. xyz appointment be terminated on the following grounds:

The minister for defense has lost trust & confidence in your ability to perform the duties of secretary to the Department of defense.

This lack of confidence and trust is detrimental to the effective & efficient administration of department of defense.

The letter also identified material that would be `taken into account in the preparation of the report.

That material includes previous material including as well as a conversation between secretary to PM& C and the minister for defense, in which the minister said he had no confidence in Mr. xyz. Mr. xyz was invited to submit any material he wished to be considered. The procedure follows further.

The Appointment, Removal & Responsibilities of Public Sector chief Executives in Australia: Some Recent Developments ,P 5 By Max Spry

Quiz# 8:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of compulsory turnout? Why might a party favor non-compulsion?


Voter turnout:

Percentage of voters who qualify to transmit a ballot in election

Who votes or does not vote in a deliberate system has been ‘attention for long to have distinct benefits for different political parties. Australia has a compulsory system of voting. When turnout is elevated, Labor makes a net gain in votes, and when turnout is low, the Liberal-National coalition benefit. In Australia, if voluntary voting applied, it will give the Liberal-National coalition an inbuilt advantage.

Much of the thrust to vote comes from a sense of civic duty, which takes time and certain social circumstances to develop that can take decades to develop:

faith in government

degree of loyalty among the population

interest in politics

Belief in the usefulness of voting

A party may favor non-compulsion for the reason that it might be gaining support from a group of minority and if they will demand non-compulsion their changes to win likely increases if a number of people do not turn out to vote for several reasons.

Australia’s electoral system uses advantaged voting for all lower house elections with the exemption of Tasmania and the ACT, which, along with the Senate and most state upper houses, join it with proportional representation in a system known as the single transferable vote. Voting is compulsory for all enrolled citizens 18 years and over in every jurisdiction as is enrolment (with the exception of South Australia).


Quiz# 9:

Nominate one think tank currently active in Australia and identify its ideological position (this could include a case where the position is not clear or seems to be inconsistent). What evidence do you use to make your finding?


A handful of policy institutes have gained public importance & some weight in advancing their ideological perspectives. The rise of such Think tanks in Australia with their dissertation of economic rationalism has paralleled the think tanks of other big nations.

Out of three institutes established long back which are still operating, one is AIIA. AIIA emerged in 1933.

Established as a non-partisan institute to encourage interest in and support understanding of international affairs, AIIA played an important role in Australian rational life concerning foreign affairs. The organization has not adapted well to the changing surroundings and hence, other think tanks received a chance to emerge as competitors.

AIIA is currently working as an autonomous, non-profit association promoting interest in and understanding of international affairs in Australia. It provides a forum for discussion and debate but does not seek to plan its own institutional views. The Institute arranges programs of lectures, seminars, workshops, conferences and other discussions, and subsidizes research and publications. The AIIA formed in 1924 but recognized as a federal body in 1933 and is the only nation-wide organization of its kind in Australia. It gets finance by members’ contributions, a small government funding and tax-deductible donations from individuals and businesses.

AIIA beholds its ideological position by:

The AIIA commits itself to minimizing its impact on our environment through several policies:

Providing a protected and healthy workplace

Creating an environmentally aware culture where responsibility is assigned and


Being an environmentally responsible neighbor in our community

Conserving natural wealth by reusing and recycling

Using in our own operations processes that do not adversely affect the environment

guarantee the accountable use of energy throughout the organization

Participating in efforts to improve environmental protection and understanding

Striving to improve our environmental performance continually

Working with suppliers who promote sound environmental practice

Enhancing consciousness among our employees, volunteers, and users – educating and motivating them to act in an environmentally responsible manner

Think tank traditions: Policy research & the politics of ideas, 2004, By Diane Stone & Andrew Denham(Ed.)


Quiz# 10:

Is greater citizen participation in public policy decision-making a desirable development? Can you suggest one way in which citizens could effectively participate in the development and implementation of public policy without these undesirable results? How might this form of participation be `thwarted?


A three-stage model of guessing the nature and degree of citizen relations suggest in policymaking.

The first stage is the provision by governments of information for citizens. This gives a view as a one-way relationship covering both ‘passive’ admittance to information on request and the ‘active’ actions used by government to disseminate information. Second stage refers to the two-way relationship of conference in which citizens are `invited by government to give feedback on specific issues. This exchange, however, found its basis on 5 June 2003, on government’s prior definition of the issue and government providing background information.

The third stage of this model is the active participation of citizens in policymaking based on a partnership relationship. This means that governments acknowledge the role of citizens in suggesting policy options and shaping the policy dialogue.

However, the final decision on policy or policy formulation rests with government.

Citizens as individuals, if specified the chance to view in depth a fussy policy issue, can fetch at least three perspectives to bear on the issue at the same time. First, ordinary citizens are likely to view a subject from the viewpoint of a taxpayer who must pay for the cost of public policy decision. Second, as consumers or users of government services, they have hopes about the quality of service they want. Third, they are members of a community, local and national. By bringing three perspectives to stand on an issue, citizens as citizens are often better `placed than politicians or public servants to recognize policy priorities, settle conflicting values and work out what choices are more reliable with their community’s values.

Public Administration, 2001, By Peter Walsh


Quiz #11

(Points: 5)

What is special and what is not special about environmental policy-making? (Interpret ‘policymaking’ broadly if you wish.) Give two ‘dot points’ for each.


Policy Making:

Policymaking should initially focus on determining objectives or societal goals. These goals refers to promote internal social solidity, environmental stability & to meet individuals need during major life cycle changes. The policy has to be effective and efficient so as achieve the greatest possible benefits at the least cost. Policymaking should achieve long-term objectives along with comprehensive understanding of the current environment.

Good Public Policy Making: How Australia fares, 2000 By Richard Curtain


The government set up a statutory body ‘Resource Assessment Commission (RAC)’ for environmental policymaking as a permanent institution with advisory powers only. The purpose was to base their decisions on commission’s analysis & findings on environment, culture, social, industry, economic or other aspects of resources and their use. RAC was different as compared to other public service departments and statutory authorities due to four of its invincible characteristics like independence, comprehensive, integrated analysis and impartiality & openness.

Royal Commissions & The making of Public Policy By Patrick Weller(Ed.)

Special points about environmental policy-making:

The environmental policymaking must respond to the driving forces that are underlying causes of continuing environmental degradation & recognize the socioeconomic systems that require adjustment and change.

The environmental problems, which are global in their reach, must receive conjoint international responses in order to initiate environmental policy-making. As well as, different political jurisdictions within nation should come together to form an effective decision.

Environmental politics & policy making in Australia,1995 By Timothy Doyle & Aynsley Kellow

Not so very special points about environmental policy-making:

It provided an integrated approach to conservation & development in order to guide the resolution of competing claims for the use of resources.

It focuses optimization of the net benefits to the community having regard to environmental considerations by an equitable distribution of return on resources considering the quantifiable and no quantifiable factors.

Governance for Sustainability By David yencken

Quiz #12

(Points: 5)

What might be the value of comparative public policy? What are some of the pitfalls?


Comparative policies provide a way to improve public policy. It helps to deal with the problems of public policy by drawing lessons from the experience of other governments.

Learning from Comparative Public Policy: A practical guide, Richard Rose

The major reason for comparative research reflects the basic nature of social science research. Comparative analysis could be inductive or deductive. It is also helpful for testing and development of theories. There are three major types of comparative analysis:

Case studies of individual countries within a comparative framework

Systematic studies of limited no. of countries

Global comparisons based on statistical analysis

Theory & Methods in Political Science, Chap 9 By David Marsh & Gerry Stoker (Ed.)

Value of comparative public policy:

Comparative public policy ensures the effectiveness of the policy on any common problem as many nations have already implemented it and the consequences are predictable.

A comparative public policy is the best possible outcome out of the range of choices available & may be already operating in different systems. Comparison of different policies beyond boundaries helps to establish norms for judgment by distinguishing essential from the trivial.

The formulations of a comparative public policy do take care of different policy preferences of different people.

Comparative public policy: field or method ,p 287, Elliot J Feldman


Pitfalls of comparative public policy:

National governments may turn to neighbors who are similar in resources and political history while devising a comparative public policy. However, in such cases the policy may lack fresh & challenging insights followed by unfamiliar nations.

A comparative public policy devised based on comparison with past situations may not be fruitful because what worked out well in the past may not be valid today.

Learning from Comparative Public Policy: A practical guide, Richard Rose

Theory and methods in Political Science, St. Martin’s press, David Marsh &Gerry Stoker (Ed.)