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4 How is Policy Made?

Where is policy made.

This chapter provides an overview of the policymaking process…it’s the “nutsy-boltsy” chapter, as one of my former public policy students would say. [1]   Ideally, this chapter would be as simple as describing how a bill becomes a law, but the reality is much more complex because policymaking occurs in multiple venues.  My goal in this chapter is to provide you with a broad view of how policymaking happens in each of these venues, but it will definitely oversimplify the process.

We’ll start this chapter by describing the legislative process for policymaking at the federal level, which is similar to what happens in state legislatures.  The executive branch is also responsible for quite a bit of policymaking, both through executive actions by the president and through the creation of regulations by the bureaucracy.  Again, we’ll focus on the federal level, though there are similarities at the state level.  Finally, we’ll discuss the policymaking that comes from the judiciary.

Legislative policymaking

Congress is the place to start when it comes to understanding federal policymaking if, for no other reason than the Constitution clearly states that all legislative powers are the prerogative of Congress (Article I, Section I).  Ideas for new policy are written (by a team of non-partisan lawyers who work in the Office of the Legislative Counsel in either the House or Senate) into documents called bills.  Bills are introduced in the House or Senate by a member of that chamber.  Ideas for bills can come from anywhere, but only a Representative can introduce a bill into the House and only a Senator can introduce a bill into the Senate.  Once a bill is introduced, it is given a number.  Bills introduced in the House have the letters H.R. before the number.  Bills introduced in the Senate have the letter S. before the number.  In addition to bill s , which represent a proposal to create, amend, or remove policy language , members of Congress might also introduce a resolution , which are used to express ideas, set internal rules for Congress, or propose constitutional amendments .

Figure 4.1: Gustavus students meet with Minnesota Representative Tim Walz in his office in Washington, D.C. in January 2017

policy making dan task executing

The Senator or Representative who introduces the bill or resolution is called the sponsor .  Other members can cosponsor the bill if they would like to support it.  Members can only sponsor or cosponsor a bill that is introduced in their chamber (i.e. a Senator can sponsor or cosponsor a Senate bill but cannot sponsor or cosponsor a House bill).  Identifying sponsors and cosponsors is important because it provides clues about support for a measure.  For example, some bills are cosponsored only by members of one political party, while others have bipartisan support.

After a bill or resolution is introduced in a chamber and given a number, it is assigned to a committee for consideration based on the topics of the bill or resolution.  Each committee has a jurisdiction , or set of topics it oversees, although there is some overlap between committees.  The House has twenty standing committees and the Senate has sixteen standing committees.  While some of the committees line up between the two chambers (both have an Armed Services Committee and a Judiciary Committee, for example), the overlap is not perfect.  The House has an Agriculture Committee while the Senate has an Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee.  These small differences can make it even more challenging when the two chambers are trying to pass legislative language that needs to be identical.  In both chambers it is possible to refer a bill to more than one committee.  This is called making a multiple referral .

Committees are a critical gatekeeping part of the process.  In theory, the committee’s job is to study the bill, deliberate over it, and make a recommendation, but in practice, a committee is where most bills and resolutions go to die.  This is because committees are not required to do anything with the bills and resolutions referred to them and because committee chairs have quite a bit of power to prevent action on a bill they oppose.  Each committee has a professional staff (two thirds of which are selected by the majority party and one third of which is selected by the minority party) that helps it review the proposals before it.  Committees are further subdivided into subcommittee s based on the topic of the legislation.

When a committee or subcommittee wants to act on a proposal, they will seek out additional information.  They may ask the Government Accountability Office to provide additional information about the proposal.  The Congressional Budget Office might provide an estimate of the costs.  The committee or subcommittee might hold a hearing in which they invite people to provide testimony and answer questions from committee members.

When the committee or subcommittee feels it has enough information to act, the next step is to hold a markup hearing .  During a markup, the committee or subcommittee will move line by line through the proposal, making changes, called amendments.  If the proposal has been assigned to a subcommittee, a majority of members of the subcommittee need to approve of moving the proposal back to the full committee.  Then the full committee votes about whether to approve the proposal and send it on to the full chamber.  The committee can report the bill favorably (meaning they support its passage), adversely (meaning they oppose its passage), or without recommendation.    Since committees aren’t required to act on a bill, they don’t often report bills that they don’t support.

If the committee made changes to the proposal, those changes are reported as a single amendment.  If they made a lot of changes, the committee might just write and report an entirely new bill that includes all the changes (called a “clean” bill).  When a committee reports a bill, it also creates a written report to go along with the bill.  The committee report explains the purpose of the bill and outlines the reasons the committee supports it (and, when applicable, why the minority opposes it) .  The report also explains exactly how the proposal will change existing law.  The committee’s report gives insight into Congress’ intentions for the proposal and so it is used by bureaucratic agencies and the courts when they are interpreting the bill’s purpose and meaning.

Once a bill or resolution has been reported from committee, it is ready for the full chamber to act and so it gets added to the bottom of the legislative agenda, called the calendar.  There are a lot of items on the legislative calendar and only so much time for debate and voting, so both chambers have ways of prioritizing the policies on which they want to act.  In the House, this is done through the Rules Committee , which sets special rules for debating proposals .  The House (and the Rules Committee) is strongly controlled by the majority party because it operates mostly on the principle of majority rule.  If the majority party wants to act on a proposal in the House, it is relatively easy for them to do so.  The Rules Committee will issue a rule that moves an item up on the calendar and outlines the plan for debate and voting.  The Rules Committee can make it so that only the committee’s amendments are allowed and can limit the total time available for debate.

In the Senate, the majority party does not have quite as much power, unless they control at least 3/5ths of the seats.  This is because the Senate has a rule that allows for individual senators to speak for as long as they wish about any topic of their choice ( filibuster ).  Ending a filibuster requires a vote by 3/5ths of senators, or 60 Senators.  The threat of a filibuster means that the Senate doesn’t often debate proposals unless there is some agreement by both parties to do so.

The process of debating the proposals in both chambers is fairly complicated, but it’s not necessary to understand all the ins and outs of parliamentary procedure for our purposes.  It is important to know that both chambers might amend the proposal during the floor debate and voting process.  Members of Congress may make floor speeches during the debate period to articulate their position.  The Congressional Record contains a verbatim record of the text of floor debates and other activity that happens on the floor .  Occasionally a member of Congress will ask that remarks be inserted into the Congressional Record, meaning that they didn’t actually speak the remarks on the floor of the chamber.

If the proposal gets to the point of a vote, it could be a recorded vote , which provides a list of which people voted for and against the proposal .  It could also be done as a voice vote , in which case we would know that the bill passed or failed but not by how much or by who.  A proposal can also be passed by unanimous consent , which means that no official vote was taken but no one spoke up to oppose its passage .

In order for a proposal to become law, it must pass both chambers in exactly identical form.  It shouldn’t be hard to see that this is a very difficult requirement because the process is happening in different venues and is controlled by different actors in each venue.  Surprisingly, however, many bills do emerge identically and this is usually because one chamber waits for the other to pass the bill first and then adopts identical language.  It doesn’t matter which chamber begins the process, except when it comes to bills to raise revenue, which must originate in the House according to the Constitution (Article I, Section 7).

The one constraint in timing is that both chambers start over every two years in a new congress after new members are elected.  Elections are held in the fall of even years and the new congress begins in January of odd years and runs for two years.  Any proposals that haven’t moved through the system by the end of a two-year period have to start again from the beginning in the next congress.

If the bills passed by each chamber aren’t identical, the two chambers can work out differences informally (called ping ponging) by making amendments or they can arrange for a formal conference committee , in which representatives from both chambers try to work out an agreement between the two proposals.  If changes are made through either of these techniques, the final language needs to go back to the two chambers for final approval.

Figure 4.2: The textbook version of the legislative process

To complicate matters a little more, there are really two separate tracks for policymaking.  The first track is the authorization process.  Authorizing bills reflect Congress’ support for the idea of the policy.  Essentially Congress says, “yes, we want to create this policy.”  But the authorizing process doesn’t confer any money toward the policy.  This happens through the appropriations process , where Congress approves spending money on policies they have authorized.  Congress can authorize whatever it wants, but until money is appropriated, there is no way to move the proposal into action. So, the proposals need to survive the process not once, but twice (once as authorizing legislation and once as appropriations legislation) in order to have a chance of success.

But that’s not the end.  Bills and joint resolutions that aren’t constitutional amendments require executive action.  The passed bill or joint resolution is sent to the President.  The president has three possible options.  First, the president can sign the bill into law.  Second, the president can veto , or formally oppose, the bill.  If the president vetoes the bill, Congress can try to override the presidential veto.  This requires a vote of 2/3rds in both chambers and is very difficult to achieve; only 5% of presidential vetoes have been overridden.  Third, the president can do nothing.  If there are more than ten days left in the current congress (not counting Sundays), the bill will become law without the president’s signature.  If there are fewer than ten days left in the current congress, the bill dies in what is called a pocket veto .  This puts some pressure on Congress to act ahead of this ten day window if they anticipate a possible veto.

So that’s the legislative process.  Except that in a lot of cases, it doesn’t work this way at all.  Recent changes have led to what Barbara Sinclair calls “unorthodox lawmaking”, which bypasses many of the processes outlined in this traditional model. [2]   One of the biggest ways in which lawmaking has become unorthodox is the use of omnibus bills.  An omnibus bill is a massive bill that packages a lot of smaller bills together.  This is especially common in the appropriations process, but it can happen for authorizing bills as well.  Another unorthodox method is for party leaders to negotiate a proposal bypassing committees and then substitute that proposal for existing language.

Following the legislative process can provide a lot of information about a proposal.  The website congress.gov allows researchers to search for bills and resolutions introduced since 1973.  In addition to providing the full text of the proposal, you can find information about sponsors and cosponsors, committee referrals, debates, and voting.  You can also locate committee reports on this website, which explain the proposal and provide information about the arguments for and against the proposal.

Most state legislatures operate using a similar process.  Every state but Nebraska has a bicameral legislature and requires proposals to be passed in both chambers. [3]   State legislatures use committees to handle the workload and governors have the opportunity to veto legislation.

Executive policymaking

When Congress passes legislation, it often sacrifices detail in an effort to win enough votes for passage, leaving bureaucratic agencies, boards, and commissions the task of sorting out the details required for implementation.  In fact, many laws specifically require agencies to develop the strategy for achieving the goals outlined in the law.  In other cases, Congress has delegated authority to an agency over a certain type of activity within society.  In any case, an agency cannot issue a rule or regulation unless it has been granted the authority to do so by a law passed by Congress.  Every rule and regulation that gets passed will include language that identifies its statutory authority, or the specific law that authorizes the agency to act.

The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) outlines the guidelines for how agencies must go about the work of developing the rules needed to implement legislation or to regulate the aspect of activity over which it has been given authority.   This process is called rule making.  Proposed and finalized rules and regulations are published in the Federal Register and later cataloged according to subject matter in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

In discussing this topic, both scholars and practitioners use the terms rule and regulation somewhat interchangeably, though there is a subtle difference.  The text of the APA specifically defines the term “rule” but it doesn’t define “regulation” even though the text of the law refers to regulations quite often.  The difference between the terms seems to come down to how the courts have interpreted the actions of federal agencies. [4]   Legislative (also known as substantive) rules are also called regulations.  A regulation is a statement issued by a government agency, board, or commission that has the force and effect of a law passed by Congress . The APA requires that agencies give the public the “opportunity to participate in the rule making through submission of written data, views, or arguments.” [5]   Regulations must go through this notice-and-comment rulemaking process.

In contrast, interpretive rules do not require notice-and-comment and can be issued without public input.  Interpretive rules do not have the force of law but explain the agency’s interpretation of laws or regulations .  Technical corrections to rules also are allowed without  the notice-and-comment process.

Let’s take a minute to dive into rulemaking , the process of creating rules and regulations . [6]   An agency might begin this process after receiving new legislation passed by Congress or it might begin it in response to an emerging problem, recommendation from other agencies or the public, or an order from the president or court. Before it begins to develop a rule, an agency might gather information or even announce its plans to begin the process by posting an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” in the Federal Register.  Doing this invites interested parties to provide comments about whether a rule is necessary even before the agency begins to draft the rule.

Once an agency decides that a rule is needed, bureaucrats within the agency draft the proposed rule.  In addition to detailing the rule itself, federal laws require that they also explain the legal basis for the rule, the rationale for the rule and the data and evidence that was used to develop the rule.  Other laws passed by Congress require agencies to estimate the costs and benefits of the proposed rule, estimate the paperwork burden it will place on the public, and analyze the proposed rule’s impact on small business and state and local governments.

More recently (beginning in the 1980s), agencies have begun using a process called negotiated rulemaking in which the agency invites interested actors, such as interest groups representing affected interests, to shape the initial proposal .  The goal of negotiated rulemaking was to make the process less adversarial by bringing interested actors to the table sooner in the process and, hopefully, avoiding lawsuits after the final rule was issued.  Unfortunately, preliminary research suggests that this alternative process hasn’t had the desired effect in reducing legal challenges. [7]

Before it is shared publicly, the rule is reviewed by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA, pronounced “oh-eye-ruh”), which is housed within the Office of Management and Budget within the Executive Office of the President.  Once the proposed rule receives approval from the administration, the proposal is shared publicly as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Federal Register.

At this stage, members of the public are invited to provide written feedback on the proposal through the website regulations.gov , which makes it easy for the public to find and comment on proposed rules.  Interest groups are especially active in this phase as they provide detailed arguments regarding the proposed rule, but anyone is invited to provide feedback.  The window for public comment is usually set at 30-60 days.  Agencies can also hold public hearings during this public comment period.

Here’s an example of a proposed rule that would change how the federal government collects information about race and ethnicity that, as of January 27, 2023 was open for public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2023/01/27/2023-01635/initial-proposals-for-updating-ombs-race-and-ethnicity-statistical-standards.

Proposed Rule 2023-01635

Following the public comment period, the agency must review all of the feedback that it gathered and then decide whether to modify the proposal, move forward with it, or withdraw the proposal.  An agency is not allowed to make a decision based on the number of comments in favor or opposed to the proposal, but rather the arguments and evidence raised in the public comment period.  The agency must be able to explain how the proposed rule will help solve the problem or accomplish the goals it identified.  If the agency plans to move forward with the proposed rule, they must address any significant critiques raised in public comments.  Once again, the OIRA gets an opportunity to review the proposed regulation in its new form.

Finally, the agency publishes a Final Rule in the Federal Register.  A final rule includes a section that describes the problem that the rule is addressing and identifies the specific statute that gives it authority to act.   In addition to publication in the Federal Register, the new rule is sent to Congress and to the Government Accountability Office for review.  At this point, the House and Senate can pass a joint resolution of disapproval if they do not support the rule.  This joint resolution requires the president’s signature to void the rule.  Congress has 60 days to review new rules. [8]

After publishing the rule, agencies develop even more rules, called interpretive rules, to help provide guidance about how the rule will be enforced and to help the public understand the regulation.  These interpretive rules don’t require a notice-and-comment period and they may or may not be published in the Federal Register.

Once the rule is finalized, the door is open to legal challenges.  Individuals or organizations (government or nongovernment) can challenge the rule by arguing that it violates a provision of the Constitution, goes beyond the statutory authority granted to the agency, violated the Administrative Procedure Act (by not having following the notice-and-comment period, for example), or was “arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion”. [9]   For example, several judges used this standard to block proposed rules from the Trump administration in 2019 regarding restrictions against giving federal money to agencies that perform or promote abortion.  Courts have the option of upholding the rule or vacating the rule , which means that they declare the rule void or unenforceable .  A court may vacate a rule temporarily while it reviews the complaint in order to stop the new rule from going into effect.  In the abortion cases I mentioned, the judges issued preliminary injunctions which created a temporary hold on implementing the new regulation until a court could fully review the regulation.

While a lot of the focus on the bureaucracy’s power of policymaking is centered on the rulemaking process, policies get set every day on the ground by actors that Michael Lipsky called, street-level bureaucrats . [10]   Lipsky points to government workers like police officers, social workers, and teachers who are responsible for delivering government services and who, in the course of their day-to-day activities make decisions that “add up to…agency policy.” [11] Street-level bureaucrats gain this policymaking power because they are able to use discretion in making decisions and because they have a great deal of autonomy.

To give an example, speeding is against the law, but a police officer, who is often patrolling alone in their vehicle, makes an independent decision about whether to pull someone over who is traveling five miles over the speed limit.  Frank Baumgartner, Derek Epp, and Kelsey Shoub explore this very topic in a book that analyzes over 20 million traffic stops made in North Carolina over the course of a decade.  Baumgartner et al. find that “powerful disparities exist in how the police interact with drivers depending on their outward identities: race, gender, and age in particular.” [12]   Similarly, Lipsky argued that “the poorer people are, the greater the influence street-level bureaucrats tend to have over them.” [13]

The policymaking that happens through street-level bureaucrats is less of a process and more of a practice.  It happens without much of a plan and is more visible as we look back at the pattern of behavior that has emerged over time.  As Baumgartner et al.’s research shows us, because it generally targets particular groups of people (like Black drivers), it can be largely invisible to other groups who are not targeted (White drivers).

Before we talk more about the policymaking that comes through the courts, there is one more source of executive policymaking to discuss and that is the policymaking power of the president.

Though the Constitution describes the president’s power as executive, most presidents have found ways to expand their influence over policymaking in both formal and informal ways.  There is little in the Constitution that gives presidents legislative powers over domestic matters aside from the ability to sign or veto legislation.  Presidents have more power over foreign and military affairs through their position as commander in chief and through their power to negotiate treaties (which still require ratification by the Senate).  However, presidents have used the “take care clause” (Article 2, Section 3) to carve out a larger role in domestic policymaking through the use of executive orders and memoranda.

An executive order is a statement issued by a president that creates or modifies laws or the procedures of the federal government independently of congressional action.   Executive orders aren’t technically legislation and they don’t require the approval of Congress even though they can result in a major change to policy.  Executive orders are numbered consecutively and published in the Federal Register like regulations, but unlike regulations, there is no review process.  Congress can pass legislation to counter an executive order, a new president can overturn an existing executive order, and executive orders are subject to judicial review. [14]

All presidents have used executive orders, and some have used them as a tool for major changes.  For example, President Harry Truman used an executive order to desegregate the military and President Ronald Reagan used an executive order to prevent family planning clinics that receive federal money from informing clients about abortion options.  Executive Order 9066 forcibly placed over 100,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry (most of whom were U.S. citizens) into internment camps during World War II. [15]

Presidents also issue proclamations, which are similar in nature to a simple or concurrent resolution passed by Congress in that they express a sentiment of the president but don’t create new policy.

Finally, in recent years (beginning in earnest with President Ronald Reagan), presidents have taken to issuing signing statements.  Signing statements are written documents that are issued when presidents sign new policies into law.   They identify portions of the law that the president believes violates the Constitution and that the president will not enforce. [16]   Signing statements are controversial, but presidents use them because they are not allowed to veto only a portion of a bill.

The delegation of legislative power to the president and the bureaucracy is controversial.  Libertarians have opposed the so-called administrative state since it emerged as part of the New Deal.  Opposition grew in the 1970s and 80s, with opponents arguing that it is unconstitutional for Congress to delegate power to administrative agencies.  This position was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2022 case West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency , which restricted the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate emissions without explicit guidance from Congress. [17]  The decision has potential implications for many other regulations issued by other agencies if similar claims are made that the agency lacks explicit congressional authority to act.

Judicial policymaking

Although courts do not like to think of themselves as making policy, their decisions certainly have that effect.  Judicial rulings define policy, compel action, and stimulate additional policymaking.  G. Alan Tarr identifies several forms of judicial policymaking: constitutional, remedial, statutory interpretation, oversight of administrative activity, and cumulative. [18]

Figure 4.3: Gustavus students wait in line to hear oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2017. No cameras, including those belonging to the media, are allowed in the courtroom during oral arguments.

policy making dan task executing

The process of judicial review is complex because most of the provisions under consideration are not entirely clear.  Take, for example, the constitution’s protection in the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures.  The constitution doesn’t specify what counts as “unreasonable” or even what counts as a “search”.  Legislatures create policies to define these concepts, but the ultimate interpretation of whether a policy violates the constitution comes down to the courts.

Courts also engage in remedial policymaking.  This means that when constitutional violations are found, the courts often create guidelines for remedying the situation.  The goal in these orders is not to make up for past damages but rather to change behavior in the future.  A court might, for example, order a police department to change its practices for conducting traffic stops in response to a pattern of discriminatory behavior.

In addition to questions involving the constitutionality of laws, courts are involved in the interpretation of statutes (laws).  A law might be unclear or it might conflict with another law.  It may be difficult to decide whether a law applies to a new situation that wasn’t anticipated by those who wrote the original law.  In these cases, courts play a role in determining what the law means and how it should be applied, which sets policy.

Courts also provide oversight of administrative activity, or the actions taken by bureaucrats.  Cases arise when individuals or institutions claim that an agency has acted above and beyond what statute allows.  The claim here is that the agency has violated the law rather than the constitution and it is up to the courts to determine whether the claim has merit.  The inverse is also true; an individual or institution can claim that an agency has failed to act when the law requires them to do so.  Again, the courts play a role in reaching a conclusion about these claims.

Finally, as Tarr points out, even when an individual case might seem minor and inconsequential, the cumulative effect of decisions can impact the direction of public policy.  Courts rely heavily on precedent , or the decisions reached in prior cases .  Judges rely on precedent for new cases, which means that past rulings can shape current and future decisions.

In acting as policymakers, judges operate within a unique environment.  Unlike legislative or executive policymakers, judges generally cannot choose which issues they address.  Those with legal standing, or a legal reason to bring a case before a court, bring cases before judges to one of the federal district courts or state trial courts.  Only the Supreme Court has control over which cases it hears, and still it is constrained to hear only the cases that are appealed to it.

At the first level of the court system, criminal and civil trials sometimes use juries.  Criminal trials i nvolve a person being accused of committing a crime against society as a whole and so the case is brought by the government against the person accused of the crime .  A criminal trial can result in a financial penalty, incarceration, or even death.  A civil trial involves a dispute between two individuals or organizations .  A civil trial can only result in a financial penalty.  In these trials, the jury is presented with evidence and witnesses and then makes a decision.  The judge helps to clarify the relevant law and provides instructions to the jury as to how to interpret the law, but ultimately, the decision is left to the jury.  The job of the judge at this level is to ensure that the process is fair and follows guidelines established by law and the Constitution.

In practice, though, very few cases in the legal system end up in a jury trial.  At the federal level, fewer than 2% of cases result in a jury trial. [19]   The main factor that accounts for this low number in criminal cases is mandatory minimum sentencing, which provides incentive for defendants to accept a plea deal , which means that the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence . When a plea deal is reached, the judge has the authority to approve or reject the agreement and also has some discretion in sentencing.  In civil cases, mandatory arbitration and caps on monetary awards for pain and suffering make it more difficult and less appealing to take a case to trial.

In civil cases, either party can appeal the decision to a higher court.  In criminal cases, the defendant can appeal if they lose the case. [20] Appealing a case involves more than just being disappointed in the outcome; it requires making a claim that there were errors in the procedure at the lower level or in the judge’s interpretation of the law.  At the federal level, appealed cases go to the circuit court.  At the state level, appealed cases either go to an appellate court or to the state supreme court, depending on the structure of the state’s judicial system.  In reality, most decisions are not appealed.  At the federal level, only 15% of district court cases are appealed. [21]

Appellate court judges do not retry the case or review new evidence or witnesses.  Instead, they review the original case to see if any mistakes were made in the process or in how the law was interpreted.  Appellate courts use legal briefs submitted by the two parties and occasionally they will hold oral arguments featuring lawyers from the two parties.  At the federal level, appellate courts usually review cases as a group of three judges, called a panel. [22]   The appellate judges will deliberate and then issue a written decision, called an opinion, that explains the court’s rationale.  Very few cases are overturned at this level or sent back to the original court for review or retrial.  In fact, sometimes the appellate court will uphold the ruling even if they find the trial judge made an error if they think the error was minor or did not affect the outcome.  When a federal appellate court issues a ruling, that ruling becomes precedent for all of the district courts within the geographic area covered by the appellate court.

The U.S. Supreme Court is the final court of appeals and it hears cases coming from both the federal court system and from the state supreme courts.  Unlike other courts, the Supreme Court gets to choose which cases it hears from among those that are appealed to it.  It takes four Justices to agree to hear a case. The Supreme Court reviews written arguments (briefs) that are prepared in advance, but unlike at the appellate level, the Court almost always holds oral arguments for the case.  During oral arguments, each party is given 30 minutes to make their case.  The justices interrupt often with questions for the lawyers.  Following the oral arguments, the justices meet in person to discuss the case.  The Chief Justice will assign one justice to write a majority opinion.  Other justices might choose to write a dissenting opinion if they disagree with the majority position or a concurring opinion if they agree with the majority but for different reasons.

When the U.S. Supreme Court issues its rulings, the decisions become precedent that cover the entire country, essentially setting a new federal policy.

Direct policymaking

In some states, the public is given the power to create policies through ballot measures.  The initiative process allows individual citizens or groups to propose a new law and, in some cases, a constitutional amendment, which is then voted on by citizens in an election .   A referendum is when a state legislature passes a law but places it on the ballot for voters to either uphold or repeal .  24 states have an initiative process and 23 states have a referendum process.  Every state but Delaware requires citizens to vote on changes to the state’s constitution.

The role for public participation in policymaking through initiatives, referendum, and constitutional amendments developed during the populist and progressive movements of the early 1900s.  Reformers attacked the power held by economic elites and demanded political reforms that would help level the playing field for average citizens.  In addition to advocating for policy changes like a ban on child labor, improved living conditions in urban areas, and an income tax system, Progressives advocated for political reforms like use of a secret ballot (Australian ballot) and avenues for direct public influence over policy and politics–the initiative, referendum, and recall.  These movements were especially successful in the west and midwest, which is why many of those states have direct policymaking processes while many east coast states do not.

Activists have used the initiative process to enact all kinds of public policies, from ending Affirmative Action to allowing same-sex marriage. The National Conference of State Legislatures keeps a database of all of the ballot measures since the late 1800s.  Interest groups, in particular, have used the initiative process to achieve their policy goals, spending millions of dollars to get measures on the ballot and to influence voters.  In 2020, the average cost of getting an initiative on the ballot was $2.1 million!

There is no initiative or referendum process at the federal level.  Changes to the U.S. Constitution require that the House and Senate both pass a joint resolution by a 2/3rds vote.  Then the measure is sent to the states where 3/4ths of the states must ratify the proposed amendment either through a state constitutional convention or through the state legislature.

Minnesota does not have an initiative or referendum process.  Changes to Minnesota’s constitution happen when a majority of each chamber in the legislature pass a proposed constitutional amendment.  That amendment goes before voters in the next general election.  Passage requires a majority of all of the people who vote in the election, so if someone casts a ballot but doesn’t make a selection on the proposed constitutional amendment, it counts as a vote against the proposal.

How are venues chosen?

Sometimes actors have very little choice as to which venue to pursue.  If an issue affects a particular state, it is likely that the issue will be taken up by a state legislature, executive, or judiciary.  If a question involves federal regulation, the federal bureaucracy is the appropriate venue.  Sometimes, however, actors have options and they will operate strategically to push their issue into a more favorable venue..

Remember back to our discussion of the Punctuated Equilibrium Theory and the technique of venue shopping .  Policy actors strategically seek out venues that might be more favorable to their desired outcome.   Venue shopping allows the policy actors to shift the debate to a context in which it will be easier for them to draw the attention of the policy makers and to work with policymakers who are sympathetic to the cause.

As this chapter demonstrates, there are a lot of different paths for policymaking.  Policy is made by legislatures, executives, bureaucrats, judges, and the public.  It is also made at the federal, state, and local levels.  Each of these processes is distinct and you could spend a lifetime learning the nuances of a single venue.  Hopefully, this chapter has provided you with enough of an overview to appreciate the complexity while also understanding the basic processes.

Although there are many different venues for policymaking, the legislature is the primary place where policymaking should happen…at least according to the U.S. and state constitutions, so we’re going to end this chapter focused on the same institution we started with.  I’ve mentioned several types of writing in this chapter (bills, resolutions, committee reports, rules, public comments, opinions) and as we close out this chapter, we’re going to focus on one genre in particular that is important to legislatures.

What is legislative testimony?

Legislative testimony is written or spoken information that is presented to a legislative committee or subcommittee during their discussion of proposed legislation .  It is provided by interest group leaders, legislators, bureaucrats, and the general public for the purpose of informing and persuading legislators.  Legislative testimony can be short (only a page or a few minutes) or it can be long (dozens of pages or hours) depending on the situation.

The primary audience for legislative testimony are legislators, in particular, the legislators serving on the committee or subcommittee holding the hearing.  Sometimes the primary purpose of the testimony is to inform, but often the primary purpose is to persuade legislators.  You can probably picture someone giving legislative testimony in front of a congressional committee, but this also happens at the state level and at local levels of government.  The format for speaking at a school board meeting is strikingly similar to speaking in front of congress, though on a smaller scale.

Figure 4.4: Emily Falk ‘22 (speaking, in black) testifies about the Minnesota State Grant in front of the Senate Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee in March 2020

policy making dan task executing

At the highest levels of government, a cabinet secretary might be called to provide testimony to a congressional committee about a particular scandal or a state bureaucrat might be asked to inform a legislative committee about the details of a particular policy.  Preparing for these scenarios is beyond the scope of this book.  Instead, we’re going to focus on the type of legislative testimony that often comes from interest group leaders and members of the public.

Legislative committees and subcommittees often hold hearings where members of the public and interest groups are invited to provide testimony. Additionally, interest groups and members of the public can send a written copy of testimony to members of the committee.

Preparing effective legislative testimony begins with understanding both the issue and the audience.  Knowing something about the issue is important because the committee wants to learn something from the people who testify.  This does not mean that you need to be a policy expert in order to testify; in fact, having personal experience with the issue can sometimes be even more powerful than simply knowing a lot about it.  Once you know what the topic of the hearing is, you should learn more about the proposed policy and think about your personal connections to the topic.    In your testimony, you want to be sure you are communicating accurate information about the topic and that you are giving the legislators a reason to listen to you, either because of your extensive knowledge or because of your compelling personal experience.  You also need to think about who you are going to be speaking with.  Is the committee friendly to your position?  Is the bill’s sponsor on the committee?  Has the committee supported similar provisions in the past?  Is this a relatively new issue for the committee or have they been dealing with it for a long time?

Now that you know more about the context and audience, you’ll need to consider your position.  Unless you are a specialist brought in to provide technical expertise, you are probably going to be speaking to the committee with the goal of persuading them to adopt your position on the proposal.  This means that you must have a clear sense of what your position is and that you can articulate that position clearly and support it with empirical and/or anecdotal evidence (using both is best!).

Once you have gathered information about the issue, the proposal, and the committee, and have thought about what you want to say about the topic, you are ready to start writing your legislative testimony.  The format of legislative testimony is a cross between a letter, a memo, and a speech.

The top of the page of legislative testimony often looks like a memo format with date, to, from, and subject lines.

The first paragraph is very similar to a legislative letter.  The opening line of the testimony should always recognize and thank the chair and ranking member (the top person from the minority party) of the committee.  The first paragraph should introduce the speaker.  If you are affiliated with an interest group, that is a place to introduce the interest group.  This is a good place to explain why you are testifying on this issue.  Within the first paragraph you should also clearly state your position on the issue.  The goal is that your audience doesn’t have to guess who you are or what you want because you’ve stated it all so clearly.

The body of the testimony is where you will outline your position and present your evidence.  Because you are usually speaking legislative testimony, it can be helpful to use some speech writing techniques like signposting.  Signposting is when you are very explicit about transitioning between main ideas.  For example, you might say something like, “there are three main reasons why this is an important proposal to pass now.  First…Second…Third…”  This helps your listener follow along with your argument.  This is especially true if you are presenting a lot of empirical information.  If your evidence is more anecdotal–based on your personal experience–it doesn’t work as well to use signposting, but you can still put some time and effort into thinking about how to most clearly tell your story.  It can be most effective if you can combine anecdotal evidence with empirical evidence.  Perhaps you have personally experienced something, but you also know that X% of the population has also experienced this thing.  Combining empirical and anecdotal evidence puts a face to the statistics.

At the end of your testimony, it is important to restate your position and thank the committee (again) for their time.

Once you have written your testimony, you have options for delivery.  You could read the testimony directly from your document.  You could also use the document to create a keyword outline and deliver your testimony more extemporaneously.  Whichever method you choose, remember that you are likely operating within time limits set by the committee.  It is very important that you stay within those time limits, so you should practice your testimony ahead of time to make sure that it fits.

After you’ve given your testimony, members of the committee may ask you questions.  The most important thing to remember during this stage is that you should never make up an answer that you don’t know.  It’s fine if they ask you a question to which you don’t know the answer; just admit that you don’t know and say that you will find out and get back to them.  Then be sure to follow up with them.  If there are other witnesses who are providing testimony in the same hearing, it is important to listen to their testimony and the questions they are asked too.  That will help you be aware of places where you are in agreement and places where you differ so that you can clarify that for the committee.

Finally, if you aren’t able to provide your testimony in person, you can always send a copy of your testimony to the committee.

Take a look at this sample legislative testimony.  Can you spot the stylistic markers that make it a good testimony?  Who delivered it and to whom was it delivered?  What argument do they make and did they support it with empirical or anecdotal evidence or a mixture of both?

Figure 4.5: Sample legislative testimony by Brenda DeRosas Lazaro ’22.  Following graduation from Gustavus, Brenda worked on a legislative campaign and then was hired as a Legislative Assistant at the Minnesota Senate.

Brenda De Rosas Lazaro

Testimony to the House Committee for Higher Education Finance and Policy

January 20, 2020

Madam Chair and members of the committee,

I would like to start off by thanking you for this opportunity to speak to you today.

I am a junior first-generation immigrant and college student at Gustavus Adolphus College. I am majoring in Political Science with a minor in Public Health. I was raised in Albert Lea Minnesota, with two hardworking parents and two younger sisters one aged 12 and other 16.

I am here today to speak on behalf of not only my fellow Gusties, but to provide perspective from some of the most underrepresented groups- immigrants, those of low socioeconomic status, and students of color.

The Minnesota State Grant has provided me the opportunity to access higher education at a great institution like Gustavus. The continuation and expansion of the Minnesota state Grant and financing for higher education institutions are the start of an effort to close the opportunity gap that underprivileged students face.

It is especially important now during the COVID-19 pandemic that we provided the resources for students to attend these institutions to continue to cultivate well rounded citizens who not only fight for themselves but for others.

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected persons of color, by two-fold. Unfortunately, this past May my family experienced COVID first-hand. My mother contracted COVID a week before her birthday.  Our community of undocumented, low-income families were taking food off their own table to place it on ours. My mother was recovering for over a month after her intense face to face with COVID-19.

I didn’t know if I was going to be able to pay for books, tuition or even basic necessities come fall. This is a challenge many college students faced this past year because as undergraduate students, our places of employment were not considered essential, our hours were cut, or we were out of work all together.

Fortunately, the Gustavus faculty and staff were willing to help and led me toward the correct resources and lend a helping hand. And for that I have nothing but gratitude.

Attending a four-year private college seemed impossible but Gustavus made it possible for me to be standing here with new goals and aspirations.

Their help wasn’t just in these trying times were learning from home was the new norm, but when the integrity of the DACA program was under attack they were there to grant their full support.

After graduating next year, I intend to work for a non-profit organization that focuses on immigration, public service, and policy to build experience for graduate study in Political Science or Public Health.  I hope to help those in my communities, so they don’t have to endure as much as I did.

I do not stand before you for my personal gain, I stand before you for the 12- and 16-year-old that live with my parents with dreams of making history like our new madam vice president did today.

My parents brought me here in pursuit of the American Dream and their daughter speaking to the Minnesota House Committee for Higher Education Finance and Policy is father then they had hoped for and I would like to thank all of you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of first-generation students like myself and to bring the voice of my mother and father to you.

And finally, I would also like to thank you for your efforts and concerns in higher education and the equity thereof. Because without your efforts my dreams would have remained just that, dreams.

Why do you write?

Figure 4.6: Representative Samantha Vang ‘16

policy making dan task executing

I was born and raised in North Minneapolis to Hmong refugees and am now a long-time resident in Brooklyn Center. I’m a first generation graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Communications Studies from Gustavus Adolphus. Shortly after I graduated college, I ran for Minnesota House of Representatives and became the first Hmong woman to be elected in the MN State House and the second youngest female ever to be elected at the age of 24. I became Chair of the first ever legislative Minnesota Asian Pacific caucus and then Chair of the legislative People of Color Indigenous (POCI) caucus and carried the caucus during a racial reckoning, a civil unrest of George Floyd and Daunte Wright that occurred right in my city. Now I am entering my 3rd term as a State Representative and Chair of the Agriculture Finance and Policy committee.

When I was a recent graduate and first ran for office, it was one of the hardest decisions I had ever made to date. To see myself in a position of power as a young woman of color took tremendous effort from me and my own support system to simply have the confidence to put my name in the hat. I had a hard time seeing myself in that role and asked myself who am I to think I can be responsible for 40,000 people? To see myself in a position of power as a young woman of color took tremendous effort from me and my own support system to simply have the confidence to put my name in the hat. During that time, I was at my lowest point mentally. I had no job,  little money, but my community, my campaign team, and my family took my hand and we never looked back. When it’s hard to believe in yourself, it is the people around you who will carry you through. I am so thankful that I’ve been surrounded by people who love and care for me and the community we continue to serve everyday.

As an elected official at the Minnesota legislature, our main task is to bring bills into law. We are also responsible for setting the budget of the state where we make budget decisions on where taxpayer dollars should or should not be spent. There’s also many other things we do on a daily basis, but those are our main constitutional duties. One of the tasks I enjoy doing is providing constituent services. It can range from hearing concerns from constituents, such as expediting a driver’s license renewal, or any requests constituents have for us at the state.

I do a lot of writing from emails to communicate with constituents and staff to media releases with the public. A lot of the time we have staff to help us during any writing process such as turning an idea into a bill or communicating with the public. When I do speeches or prepare for committee hearings, I often write my own.

When I am preparing for a speech, and if I have the time, I will try to prepare a couple of days in advance. I will do some research about the type of event and what type of audience will be in attendance. I like to hand write in a journal first, free flowing initial thoughts into a basic template of introduction, main, and conclusion. I don’t like to speak for very long, so my style is often concise. I will write the main talking point and later add on more detailed sentences. Once I finish with my first draft, I like to wait another day to have a fresh look on the draft and make edits or add additional thoughts. Once I finish with my first draft, I like to wait another day to have a fresh look on the draft and make edits or add additional thoughts. I do all of this in handwriting in a work journal I keep. I don’t make many drafts, probably most I make is 2 and then I rehearse to memorize the speech.

Before I present a bill that I’ve sponsored before a committee, I prepare notes, talking points, and sometimes include background research to provide context and the significance of the bill. I also prepare remarks that may answer members of the committee who may oppose or have concerns. I will also have testifiers who will speak in support of the bill and they usually prepare their own remarks.

I wish I had a different mindset about me as a writer in the beginning so I would have more experience on how to make my writing voice effective. I grew up insecure in writing since English is a second language and my vocabulary was limited. It didn’t excel until my college years. My mindset was more concerned with always trying to sound like any other good writer, but not about me as a writer on how to best convey my thoughts to the reader. Part of my journey as a writer was learning about my style and accepting that it’s okay to speak in the way that I speak because as it turns out, people actually understand me as the writer better that way.

What comes next?

Now that we have a basic understanding of the policymaking process as it moves through the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, it is time to turn to one of the most important questions addressed in this book: why does policy look this way?  The next chapter will dig into the question of policy design, focusing on the selection of policy tools and causal stories.  I’ll introduce the Social Construction Theory of Target Populations, which provides a theoretical explanation of policy design.

Questions for discussion

  • What policymaking process are you most familiar with?  How did you learn about it?  What policymaking process are you least familiar with?  What questions do you still have about how it works?
  • Should the executive branch play any formal role in actually making policy?  What are the arguments for and against executive branch participation in policymaking?
  • Should the judicial branch play any formal role in actually making policy? What are the arguments for and against judicial branch participation in policymaking?
  • Should Minnesota adopt an initiative process?  Should the federal government adopt an initiative process?

Administrative Procedure Act : This law outlines the guidelines for how agencies must go about the work of developing the rules needed to implement legislation or to regulate the aspect of activity over which it has been given authority.

Appropriations process : The process by which Congress approves spending money on policies they have authorized.

Authorizing bills :  Bills that create, modify, or end a policy.

Bill :  A legislative proposal to create, amend, or remove policy language.

Civil trial : A legal hearing that involves a dispute between two individuals or organizations.  Penalties for a civil trial are financial only and don’t result in a criminal conviction.

Committee :  A formal group of legislators who have jurisdiction over a specific policy topic.  Committees study and debate bills, hold hearings to learn more about them, propose modifications to bills, and make a recommendation to the full chamber.

Committee report : A document produced by a committee that explains the purpose of a bill and outlines the reasons the committee supports it (and, when applicable, why the minority opposes it) and how it will change existing law.

Concurrent resolution : (designated H. Con. Res. in the House and  S. Con. Res in the Senate) Used to change rules that apply to both chambers of Congress or express the sentiments of both chambers.

Conference committee : A committee that includes representatives from both chambers (House and Senate) with the goal of reaching an agreement between the two versions of the bill. Any agreement reached by a conference committee must be ratified by a majority vote in both chambers.

Congressional Record : A verbatim record of debates and other activity that happens on the floor.  In Congress, members can insert text into the Congressional Record, which makes it look like they made a speech on the floor of the chamber even when they didn’t.

Cosponsor : One or more members of the legislature that formally express support for a bill by adding their name to the bill as a cosponsor.

Criminal trials :  These trials involve a person being accused of committing a crime against society as a whole and so the case is brought by the government (via a prosecutor) against the person accused of the crime.

Executive order : A statement issued by a president that creates or modifies laws or the procedures of the federal government independently of congressional action.

Filibuster :  Occurs when one or more members of the Senate prolong debate on proposed legislation to delay or prevent a decision.

Final Rule : Published in the Federal Register as a codification of an agency’s interpretation of how to best implement a policy.  A final rule includes a section that describes the problem that the rule is addressing and identifies the specific statute that gives it authority to act.

Hearing : A meeting held by a congressional committee in which they invite people to provide testimony and answer questions from committee members.

Initiative process :  Allows individual citizens or groups to propose a new law and, in some cases, a constitutional amendment, which is then voted on by citizens in an election.

Interpretive rules : This type of rules do not require notice-and-comment and can be issued without public input.  Interpretive rules do not have the force of law but explain the agency’s interpretation of laws or regulations.

Joint resolution : (designated H.J. Res. in the House and S.J. Res. in the Senate) Similar to a bill.  Joint resolutions can be used to appropriate money for a particular purpose, requiring approval by both chambers of Congress and the president. They can also be used to propose amendments to the Constitution.

Judicial review :  The power of the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether an action taken by the government is consistent with the U.S. Constitution.

Jurisdiction : The set of topics that a committee oversees.

Markup hearing : A hearing in which a legislative committee or subcommittee will move line by line through the proposal, making changes, called amendments.

Multiple referral : The process of sending a bill to more than one committee at a time for review.

Omnibus bill : A massive bill that packages a lot of smaller bills together.

Plea deal : An agreement between a person accused of a crime and the prosecutor in which the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Pocket veto :  When there are less than ten days left in a current congress but the President does not sign or veto the bill, the bill does not go into effect. This is called a pocket veto because the President did not have to take proactive action to veto the bill but rather just put it in his pocket to die.

Precedent : Making a judicial decision so that it conforms to decisions reached in prior similar cases.

Recorded vote :   When a chamber of Congress records the names of people who voted for and against a proposal.

Referendum :  A process in some states in which a state legislature passes a law but places it on the ballot for voters to either uphold or repeal.

Regulation :  A statement issued by a government agency, board, or commission that has the force and effect of a law passed by Congress.

Resolution : Similar to a bill but used to express ideas, set internal rules for Congress, or propose constitutional amendments.

Rulemaking : The process of creating rules and regulations by bureaucratic agencies as they work to implement laws passed by Congress.

Rules Committee :  A committee in the House of Representatives that establishes the guidelines for debating proposals in the House.

Signing statements : Written documents that are issued when presidents sign new policies into law.  Presidents sometimes use these to call out aspects of the law that they disagree with and plan to ignore in the enforcement process.

Simple resolution : (designated H. Res. in the House and S. Res. in the Senate) Used to express the sentiment of one chamber.

Sponsor : The Senator or Representative who introduces a bill or resolution.

Street level bureaucrats : The government employees who work on the front lines of providing direct services.

Subcommittee s: A subsection of a committee that focuses on an even more specific aspect of the policy area.  Like committees, subcommittees can hold hearings and propose amendments.  Any decisions made by a subcommittee must be approved by the full committee.

Testimony : Written or spoken information that is presented to a legislative committee or subcommittee during their discussion of proposed legislation.

Unanimous consent :   The Senate requires approval from all members to act, and so it operates under a series of unanimous consent agreements to conduct its business.  Unless a Senator objects, the Senate continues with its business.  A Senator who strongly objects might consider starting a filibuster.

Vacating the rule : A declaration by a judge that an administrative rule is void or unenforceable.

Venue shopping :   The process of proactively seeking out a more favorable venue for political action.

Veto :  An action taken by a President to oppose a bill passed by Congress.   

Voice vote :  A vote taken in Congress in which members express their support or opposition to the proposal verbally without recording how individual members voted.

Additional Resources

Federal Statutes: A Beginner’s Guide https://guides.loc.gov/federal-statutes

Legislative Histories of Selected U.S. Laws on the Internet: Free Sources https://www.llsdc.org/legislative-histories-laws-on-the-internet-free-sources

How to Trace Federal Regulations: A Beginner’s Guide https://guides.loc.gov/trace-federal-regulations

Access proposed regulations and submit comments: https://www.regulations.gov/

  • Eric (Halvorson) Fowler ‘13 is now a Senior Policy Associate for an advocacy group called Fresh Energy that advocates for Minnesota to transition to clean energy sources. ↵
  • Barbara Sinclair, Unorthodox Lawmaking ↵
  • Nebraska did have a bicameral legislature at one point, but it changed to a unicameral system in 1937 because lawmakers thought it would save the state money and be more representative of the people.  You can read more about it here if you are interested: https://nebraskalegislature.gov/education/lesson3.php#:~:text=Critical Thinking Exercise-,U.S. Sen.,than a two-house legislature. ↵
  • Brian Wolfman and Bradley Girard, Argument preview: The Administrative Procedure Act, notice-and-comment rule making, and “interpretive” rules, SCOTUSblog (Nov. 26, 2014, 10:13 AM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2014/11/argument-previewthe-administrative-procedure-act-notice-and-comment-rule-making-and-interpretive-rules/ ↵
  • “Administrative Procedure Act,” National Archives and Records Administration (National Archives and Records Administration), January 25, 2023, https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/laws/administrative-procedure/553.html. ↵
  • Information in this section is drawn from several sources: Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, https://www.reginfo.gov/public/jsp/Utilities/faq.jsp; Office of the Federal Register, A Guide to the Rulemaking Process https://www.federalregister.gov/uploads/2011/01/the_rulemaking_process.pdf; ↵
  • Coglianese, Cary, “Assessing Consensus: The Promise and Performance of Negotiated Rulemaking” (1997). Duke Law Journa l, Vol. 46, Pg. 1255, 1997, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=10430 ↵
  • Congressional Research Service, “The Congressional Review Act (CRA): Frequently Asked Questions” https://sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/R43992.pdf ↵
  • “The Rulemaking Process - Federal Register,” accessed 1AD, https://www.federalregister.gov/uploads/2011/01/the_rulemaking_process.pdf, 11. ↵
  • Michael Lipsky, Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1980). ↵
  •   Michael Lipsky, Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1980), 3. ↵
  • Frank R. Baumgartner, Derek A. Epp, and Kelsey Shoub, Suspect Citizens: What 20 Million Traffic Stops Tell Us About Policing and Race (United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 2. ↵
  •   Michael Lipsky, Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1980), 6. ↵
  • Congressional Research Service, Executive Orders: An Introduction, March 29, 2021,https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R46738; American Bar Association, “What is an Executive Order?, January 25, 2001, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/publications/teaching-legal-docs/what-is-an-executive-order-/ ↵
  • History.com Editors, “Japanese Internment Camps,” History.com (A&E Television Networks, October 29, 2009), https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/japanese-american-relocation#:~:text=Japanese internment camps were established,be incarcerated in isolated camps. ↵
  • Congressional Research Service, Todd Garvey, “Presidential Signing Statements: Constitutional and Institutional Implications” January 4, 2012, https://sgp.fas.org/crs/natsec/RL33667.pdf ↵
  • “Supreme Court of the United States,” accessed January 25, 2023, https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-1530_n758.pdf. ↵
  • G. Alan Tarr, Judicial Process and Judicial Policymaking, 7th edition (New York: Routledge, 2019).  Tarr also identifies common-law policymaking, but this form of judicial decisions is not as relevant to the policymaking process. ↵
  • Emanuella Evans, “Jury Trials are Disappearing.  Here’s Why”, Injustice Watch, February 17, 2921. https://www.injusticewatch.org/news/2021/disappearing-jury-trials-study/ ↵
  • The prosecutors won’t appeal a loss because of the Constitution’s prohibition on double jeopardy, or being tried twice for the same crime. ↵
  • G. Alan Tarr, Judicial Process and Judicial Policymaking , 7th edition (New York: Routledge, 2019). ↵
  • Occasionally, all of the judges from an appellate court will review the case.  This is called an en banc session. ↵

A legislative proposal to create, amend, or remove policy language.

Similar to a bill but used to express ideas, set internal rules for Congress, or propose constitutional amendments. 

Used to express the sentiment of one chamber.

Used to change rules that apply to both chambers of Congress or express the sentiments of both chambers.

Similar to a bill.  Joint resolutions can be used to appropriate money for a particular purpose, requiring approval by both chambers of Congress and the president. They can also be used to propose amendments to the Constitution.

The Senator or Representative who introduces a bill or resolution.

One or more members of the legislature that formally express support for a bill by adding their name to the bill as a cosponsor.

A formal group of legislators who have jurisdiction over a specific policy topic.  Committees study and debate bills, hold hearings to learn more about them, propose modifications to bills, and make a recommendation to the full chamber.

The set of topics that a committee oversees.

The process of sending a bill to more than one committee at a time for review.

A subsection of a committee that focuses on an even more specific aspect of the policy area.  Like committees, subcommittees can hold hearings and propose amendments.  Any decisions made by a subcommittee must be approved by the full committee.

A meeting held by a congressional committee in which they invite people to provide testimony and answer questions from committee members.

Written or spoken information that is presented to a legislative committee or subcommittee during their discussion of proposed legislation. 

A hearing in which a legislative committee or subcommittee will move line by line through the proposal, making changes, called amendments.

A document produced by a committee that explains the purpose of a bill and outlines the reasons the committee supports it (and, when applicable, why the minority opposes it) and how it will change existing law.

A committee in the House of Representatives that establishes the guidelines for debating proposals in the House.

Occurs when one or more members of the Senate prolong debate on proposed legislation to delay or prevent a decision.

A verbatim record of debates and other activity that happens on the floor.  In Congress, members can insert text into the Congressional Record, which makes it look like they made a speech on the floor of the chamber even when they didn’t.

When a chamber of Congress records the names of people who voted for and against a proposal.

A vote taken in Congress in which members express their support or opposition to the proposal verbally without recording how individual members voted.

The Senate requires approval from all members to act, and so it operates under a series of unanimous consent agreements to conduct its business.  Unless a Senator objects, the Senate continues with its business.  A Senator who strongly objects might consider starting a filibuster.

A committee that includes representatives from both chambers (House and Senate) with the goal of reaching an agreement between the two versions of the bill. Any agreement reached by a conference committee must be ratified by a majority vote in both chambers.

Bills that create, modify, or end a policy.

The process by which Congress approves spending money on policies they have authorized.

An action taken by a President to oppose a bill passed by Congress. 

When there are less than ten days left in a current congress but the President does not sign or veto the bill, the bill does not go into effect. This is called a pocket veto because the President did not have to take proactive action to veto the bill but rather just put it in his pocket to die.

A process in which legislators bundle up a bunch of bills on the same general topic into one large bill and the Minnesota legislature does it frequently rather than passing each bill separately.

This law outlines the guidelines for how agencies must go about the work of developing the rules needed to implement legislation or to regulate the aspect of activity over which it has been given authority.

A statement issued by a government agency, board, or commission that has the force and effect of a law passed by Congress.

This type of rules do not require notice-and-comment and can be issued without public input.  Interpretive rules do not have the force of law but explain the agency’s interpretation of laws or regulations.

The process of creating rules and regulations by bureaucratic agencies as they work to implement laws passed by Congress.

A rulemaking process in which the agency invites interested actors, such as interest groups representing affected interests, to shape the initial proposal.

Published in the Federal Register as a codification of an agency’s interpretation of how to best implement a policy.  A final rule includes a section that describes the problem that the rule is addressing and identifies the specific statute that gives it authority to act.

A declaration by a judge that an administrative rule is void or unenforceable.

The government employees who work on the front lines of providing direct services.

A statement issued by a president that creates or modifies laws or the procedures of the federal government independently of congressional action.

Written documents that are issued when presidents sign new policies into law.  Presidents sometimes use these to call out aspects of the law that they disagree with and plan to ignore in the enforcement process.

The power of the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether an action taken by the government is consistent with the U.S. Constitution.

Making a judicial decision so that it conforms to decisions reached in prior similar cases.

These trials involve a person being accused of committing a crime against society as a whole and so the case is brought by the government (via a prosecutor) against the person accused of the crime.

A legal hearing that involves a dispute between two individuals or organizations.  Penalties for a civil trial are financial only and don’t result in a criminal conviction.

An agreement between a person accused of a crime and the prosecutor in which the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Allows individual citizens or groups to propose a new law and, in some cases, a constitutional amendment, which is then voted on by citizens in an election.

A process in some states in which a state legislature passes a law but places it on the ballot for voters to either uphold or repeal.

The process of proactively seeking out a more favorable venue for political action.

An Introduction to U.S. Public Policy: Theory and Practice Copyright © 2023 by Katherine Knutson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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  • My Preferences
  • My Reading List
  • American Government
  • Study Guides
  • The Policymaking Process
  • Creation of the Constitution
  • The Continental Congress
  • The Articles of Confederation
  • The Constitutional Convention
  • Key Concepts in the Constitution
  • Summary of the Constitution
  • The Debate over Ratification
  • The Amendment Process and Bill of Rights
  • Concepts of Federalism
  • Federal-State Relations
  • Recent Trends in Federalism
  • The Two Houses of Congress
  • The Powers of Congress
  • The Organization of Congress
  • How a Bill Becomes a Law
  • The Executive Branch
  • The Powers of the President
  • The Functions of the President
  • Organization of the Executive Branch
  • The Vice President and Presidential Succession
  • The State Court System
  • The Federal Court System
  • The Supreme Court in Operation
  • Characteristics of a Bureaucracy
  • The Growth of the Federal Bureaucracy
  • Controlling the Size of Bureaucracy
  • The Functions of the Federal Bureaucracy
  • The Structure of the Federal Bureaucracy
  • Public Opinion and How It's Measured
  • Political Socialization
  • Social Background and Political Values
  • Political Ideology
  • How Public Opinion Is Formed
  • The Evolution of the Mass Media
  • The Structure of the Mass Media and Government Regulation
  • The Functions of the Mass Media
  • The Mass Media and Political Coverage
  • The Functions of Political Parties
  • The Development of Political Parties
  • Third Parties in American Politics
  • The Structure of Political Parties
  • The Strengths and Weaknesses of Political Parties
  • The Right to Vote
  • Obstacles to Voting
  • Voter Turnout
  • Voting Choices
  • Getting Nominated and Campaigning for Office
  • Electing Candidates to Office
  • Types of Interest Groups
  • Functions of Interest Groups
  • Tactics of Interest Groups
  • Regulation of Interest Groups
  • Perspective on Civil Liberties
  • The First Amendment: Freedom of Religion
  • The First Amendment: Freedom of Speech
  • The First Amendment: Freedom of the Press
  • The Rights of Defendants
  • Civil Liberties and the War on Terror
  • Implied Rights
  • Slavery and Civil Rights
  • Segregation in the United States
  • Breaking Down Segregation
  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • Civil Rights for Minorities and Women
  • Affirmative Action
  • Politics and Policymaking
  • Policymaking in Action
  • The Goals of Economic Policy
  • Theories of Economic Policy
  • The Federal Budget
  • Taxation and Spending
  • International Economic Policy
  • Background of American Foreign Policy
  • Making Foreign Policy
  • The Institutions of Foreign Policy
  • Issues in Foreign Policy

Public policy refers to the actions taken by government — its decisions that are intended to solve problems and improve the quality of life for its citizens. At the federal level, public policies are enacted to regulate industry and business, to protect citizens at home and abroad, to aid state and city governments and people such as the poor through funding programs, and to encourage social goals. 

A policy established and carried out by the government goes through several stages from inception to conclusion. These are agenda building, formulation, adoption, implementation, evaluation, and termination. 

Agenda building

Before a policy can be created, a problem must exist that is called to the attention of the government. Illegal immigration, for example, has been going on for many years, but it was not until the 1990s that enough people considered it such a serious problem that it required increased government action. Another example is crime. American society tolerates a certain level of crime; however, when crime rises dramatically or is perceived to be rising dramatically, it becomes an issue for policymakers to address. Specific events can place a problem on the agenda. The flooding of a town near a river raises the question of whether homes should be allowed to be built in a floodplain. New legislation on combating terrorism (the USA Patriot Act, for example) was a response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. 

Formulation and adoption

Policy formulation means coming up with an approach to solving a problem. Congress, the executive branch, the courts, and interest groups may be involved. Contradictory proposals are often made. The president may have one approach to immigration reform, and the opposition-party members of Congress may have another. Policy formulation has a tangible outcome: A bill goes before Congress or a regulatory agency drafts proposed rules. The process continues with adoption. A policy is adopted when Congress passes legislation, the regulations become final, or the Supreme Court renders a decision in a case. 

Implementation

The implementation or carrying out of policy is most often accomplished by institutions other than those that formulated and adopted it. A statute usually provides just a broad outline of a policy. For example, Congress may mandate improved water quality standards, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides the details on those standards and the procedures for measuring compliance through regulations. As noted earlier, the Supreme Court has no mechanism to enforce its decisions; other branches of government must implement its determinations. Successful implementation depends on the complexity of the policy, coordination between those putting the policy into effect, and compliance. The Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education is a good example. The justices realized that desegregation was a complex issue; however, they did not provide any guidance on how to implement it "with all deliberate speed." Here, implementation depended upon the close scrutiny of circuit and appeals court judges, as well as local and state school board members who were often reluctant to push social change. 

Evaluation and termination

Evaluation means determining how well a policy is working, and it is not an easy task. People inside and outside of government typically use cost-benefit analysis to try to find the answer. In other words, if the government is spending x billions of dollars on this policy, are the benefits derived from it worth the expenditure? Cost-benefit analysis is based on hard-to-come-by data that are subject to different, and sometimes contradictory, interpretations. 

History has shown that once implemented, policies are difficult to terminate. When they are terminated, it is usually because the policy became obsolete, clearly did not work, or lost its support among the interest groups and elected officials that placed it on the agenda in the first place. In 1974, for example, Congress enacted a national speed limit of 55 miles per hour. It was effective in reducing highway fatalities and gasoline consumption. On the other hand, the law increased costs for the trucking industry and was widely viewed as an unwarranted federal intrusion into an area that belonged to the states to regulate. The law was repealed in 1987. 

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Framing and Policy Making

How does framing help advance our public policy goals.

Policymaking is traditionally depicted as a process that unfolds in neat, predictable stages. First the issue is placed on the agenda and the problem is defined. Next, the legislative branches of government examine alternative solutions and write the right ones into law. The executive agencies implement the solutions. Interest groups may challenge the actions through the judicial branch. Sometimes, the policy is evaluated and revised or scrapped. At each stage, the theory goes, policymakers use evidence, data, and reason to guide their actions.

The reality of policymaking, of course, is much more complex. It involves what political scientist Deborah Stone has called “the struggle over ideas:

Ideas are a medium of exchange and a mode of influence even more powerful than money, votes and guns. Shared meanings motivate people to action and meld individual striving into collective action. Ideas are at the center of all political conflict. Policymaking, in turn, is a constant struggle over the criteria for classification; the boundaries of categories, and the definition of ideals that guide the way people behave. [i]

At each policy making stage, there are competing views about what the problem is, if and why it matters, how it works, and what should be done about it. 1

Issue framing – the process of shaping the interpretation of a social problem – elevates one view over another and drives policy in a particular direction.  If we consider how framing affects each stage of the policymaking process, we can better engage in the struggle over ideas.

  • Agenda Setting and Problem Definition

The first step in policymaking is to gain a place on the public policy agenda. [ii]  But how is the determination that a problem is now a “public issue” made?  Why do some problems get defined as public issues and others do not? Framing is at the heart of this process.

A condition becomes a social issue because people present information about it in a way that leads society to perceive the condition as important and worthy of attention. [iii] When activists organize a demonstration, when advocates brief lawmakers on their latest report, or when investigative reporters publish stories, they are casting a social condition as a social issue. [iv] If their claims persuade others that the topic rises to the level of a social issue, they have successfully framed the problem so that it gains agenda status. [v]

When our issue is at the agenda-setting stage, we need to adopt framing that transforms a social condition into a social issue. This requires careful choices. The use of tobacco, for example, can be constructed as a spiritual practice that must be respected, a public health threat that must be managed, a personal failing that comes with consequences, or an individual right that deserves protection. Our sense of the nature of the problem determines the policy solutions that appear natural or appropriate.

The framing that makes a condition an issue in the first place affects the policymaking that follows. To judge the relative merits of the different frames we could use, we need to ask not only how to gain attention, but how to define the problem in a way that leads to policies that advance equity and the common good.

  • Policy Formulation and Adoption

Once an issue is on the agenda, policies are then formulated and – ideally – adopted. This stage involves analyzing policy goals, creating  or identifying possible solutions, and weighing the alternatives. It also involves people: the elected officials, committee staffers, political appointees, or agency officials who decide on which options to pursue.

Because humans are involved, we can’t expect reason or logic alone to dictate the process; we have built-in tendencies to ignore data that doesn’t fit our worldview and dig our heels in when our beliefs are challenged. [vi] But we can anticipate how the framing of the issue will influence the policies that are considered and selected.

For example, research has shown that public health interventions are not always chosen based on their effectiveness, but because they align more closely with some social values than others. [vii] A personal responsibility frame guides people to see health information interventions as the most appropriate solution. From this perspective, the role of government is to provide information that allows people to consider options and make their own choice. A social justice frame that emphasizes social responsibility for conditions leads people to a different set of solutions. From this frame, the role of government is to regulate the environment so that everyone has an equal chance to be as healthy as possible, free from preventable health hazards where they live or work.

The connection between the frames we use and the policies we choose is not just a public health phenomenon—it happens on every social issue. When we frame housing in terms of affordability, policy options focus on individuals’ income levels and the debate becomes whether or not to supplement them with public funds. When we frame housing in terms of regional prosperity, higher-level interventions like planning, zoning, and community development come into view. The conversation then revolves around the ways that housing policy can create broader economic wellbeing. [viii] Framing old age as a period of decline and deterioration narrows our aging policy discussion to topics like income security and long-term care facilities. An alternative frame – talking about later life as a time when people have the benefit of insight and experience – helps us see the need for addressing age discrimination and pushing for more flexible employment policies. [ix]

In short, the frames that we use when formulating policy either give effective policies a chance to be seen, or keep them hidden from view.

  • Policy Implementation

In the third stage of policymaking, the chosen solutions are implemented by organizations charged with carrying them out. At this stage, administrators make decisions about how to deploy people, money, and other resources in order to translate a policy into action.

Framing also matters at this stage. This is the time when administrators are defining key terms and ideas from the policy – and making decisions about how those definitions will be put into action. It is a time of interpretation when we must guide the conversation in the right direction.

Consider the 1996 policy that overhauled welfare. The Clinton administration made a great effort to frame the goal as empowering economically marginalized people to establish a means of livelihood. The phrase “welfare-to-work” was coined. The values that were invoked included self-actualization and self-sufficiency. The administration emphasized structural issues in their problem definition, highlighting the ways that childcare and health care policy made it difficult for people to move from public assistance into family-sustaining employment.  This framing was highly effective at the policy adoption stage, but turned out to be insufficient for the implementation stage.

As the legislation was implemented, the role of framing became clear. Some states worked within the administration’s frame, emphasizing the transition from public assistance to jobs. These states built out robust workforce development programs, offered childcare support, and the like. Others chose to interpret the policy as simply a call to slash welfare rolls. The values evoked in these programs included personal responsibility, corporate autonomy, and fiscal restraint. The results trapped millions of Americans in poverty.

The lesson: because policymaking doesn’t stop when legislation is passed, our attention to framing can’t end at the signing ceremony, either. Just as the problem definition affects what solutions are considered and adopted, the definitions of solutions affect how policies play out.

  • Policy Evaluation

Policy evaluation is the final stage of the policymaking process. In this stage, policymakers assess what happened as a result of a policy and make adjustments as needed.

Just as there is no purely objective, fact-based mode for selecting one policy over another, there is also no entirely neutral way to measure and calculate the benefits or harms that policies create. Framing, which guides human interpretation and assessment, also comes into play in this seemingly “objective” phase.

The evaluation of a policy affects its implementation and legacy. Returning to the example of the Clinton-era welfare reform act, note that it was mostly evaluated by the number of welfare recipients who went to work. This incentivized states to push recipients into jobs, whether or not the wages were sufficient to sustain their needs. Imagine how the policy would have been implemented – and how later anti-poverty measures would have been crafted – if the reform had been evaluated by how much it reduced concentrated poverty, or how well it moved poor families into the middle class, or how many children completed college.

Such choices are influenced by our framing. To begin to evaluate a policy, evaluators must articulate the goals of the policy; a way to measure whether the goals have been met; and the outcomes that will be measured through those means. Decision-makers will base each of these choices on assumptions about who and what counts as important. [x] By highlighting different ways of viewing an issue, we shape people’s understanding of what counts as “success.”

  • Key Takeaways

On a day-to-day basis, our policy advocacy is made up of concrete, immediate tasks: testifying on the benefits of proposed legislation, meeting with a group to enlist their support for a policy position, crafting an argument to challenge an unjust policy or action in court. These discrete tasks, ideally, fit into a larger, longer-term strategy.

In the same way, the framing we choose for any one stage of the policymaking process should fit into a longer-term strategy that considers the full policymaking cycle. Our definition of the problem should set up the solutions we want to be considered. Our thoughtful campaign for adoption should be followed by an equally  thoughtful approach to shaping the narrative around implementation and evaluation. When we do this, we make the most of the power of communications – and use it to drive long-term, meaningful policy change.

[i] Stone, D. (2002). Policy paradox: The art of political decision making, New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

[ii] Clemons, R., & McBeth, M. (2001). Public policy praxis. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

[iii] Best, J. (ed.). (1995) Images of Issues. (2nd ed.) New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

[iv] Spector, M. and Kitsuse, J. (1977), Constructing social problems. Menlo Park: Cummings Publishing.

[v] Best, J. (ed.). (1995) Images of Issues. (2nd ed.) New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

[vi] Kahan, Dan M. “Ideology, motivated reasoning, and cognitive reflection: An experimental study.” Judgment and Decision Making 8 (2012): 407-24.

[vii] Guttman, N. (2000). Public health communication interventions: Values and ethical dilemmas. Sage Publications, 50.

[viii] O’Neil, Moira., and Sweetland, Julie. (2018). Piecing it together: A framing playbook for affordable housing advocates. Washington, DC: FrameWorks Institute.

[ix] Sweetland, Julie, Moira O’Neil, and Andrew Volmert. (2017.) Finding the Frame for Aging: A FrameWorks Research Report. Washington, DC: FrameWorks Institute.

[x] Stone, D. (2002). Policy paradox: The art of political decision making, New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 65.

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Guidance note 2: Understanding the policy process

  • The formation of public policy centres on decision-making by the political leadership in government, but decisions are shaped by a multitude of factors and different actors, including civil servants but also many others.
  • A sequential analysis of the phases of the policy process can help researchers understand at what point the knowledge they bring is most likely to gain traction with policy actors, but should not be mistaken for a formally prescribed procedure.
  • Policy-making is prone to iterations, reversals and sudden changes of approach which are impossible to predict

This Guidance Note provides an introduction to some crucial characteristics of the processes from which public policy emerges. As far as possible it is written in general terms, avoiding references to particular policy environments. The institutional arrangements and working practices of government of course vary greatly from place to place, but we would contend that there are a number of basic features that are often encountered, and that it will be helpful for researchers to be aware of these as they consider how best to engage with these processes so as to achieve impact.

The institutional arrangements and working practices of government of course vary greatly from place to place, but we would contend that there are a number of basic features that are  often  encountered

Researchers whose specialism lies in the field of government, politics, public policy or public administration will find nothing new in this account, and indeed might want to take issue with some aspects of the approach we have adopted here; there are many different ways of framing the arguments around how policy is made, and much debate around concepts and terms. This piece has been written primarily for the benefit of researchers in other disciplines who may not have had occasion to give much thought previously to how these governmental functions work.

Defining what we mean by policy

There is no shortage of definitions of what is meant by policy , of varying degrees of usefulness. However, a good starting-point for present purposes is Thomas Dye’s assertion (from as long ago as 1976) that “Public policy is whatever governments choose to do or not to do.” This simple statement introduces three key components:

  • Public policy (as opposed to the policy of a company or a private association) flows from the decisions of a government (the duly constituted executive authority of a territory);
  • It is the result of deliberate choice between alternative ways of proceeding;
  • And it results in action (or deliberate inaction).

There is much more to be said about all of this, and there is a copious policy studies literature which addresses a wide range of related issues, including how decisions are made, what are the factors that influence them and who has a voice in them; how decision-makers attempt to balance competing interests; and the disjunctures between original intention, the actions eventually implemented and their consequences. Nevertheless, the fundamental idea of choices by government leading to action is a helpful one to hold on to, and one from which several points follow.

It is ... in most systems the executive (government) not the legislature (parliament) which makes or leads the making of policy. This has definite implications for where researchers may choose to direct their policy engagement efforts. 

The first is that parliaments may play an important role in raising the visibility of issues through debate, reviewing and assenting to government proposals (with varying degrees of authority to amend them); debating, amending and passing the legislation often needed to enable implementation; assenting to taxation and expenditure; and scrutinising what is done, and making recommendations (which may or may not be accepted and acted on). It is, though, in most systems the executive (government) not the legislature (parliament) which makes or leads the making of policy. This has definite implications for where researchers may choose to direct their policy engagement efforts.

A second point is that decision by government means ultimately decision by ministers (or in some cases by an executive President) – the elected or appointed political leadership . Policy decisions are seldom taken by political office-holders in a vacuum: analysis and proposals are generally prepared in great detail by official advisers (civil servants), sometimes working with ministers’ appointed political advisers (in the UK properly called special advisers), and the advice and eventual decisions are both shaped by the influence and advocacy of a wide range of interest groups in business and civil society, opinion formers in the media, allies and opponents in parliament and the political parties at large, and academic experts. There are thus many potential points of access to influence and inform decisions, but many are quite indirect in effect and their efficacy difficult to assess. Subordinate decisions about the detailed and implementation of policy decisions and the application of policy to specific cases will often be taken by officials without reference to ministers unless the issue is potentially politically contentious or has wider policy implications. But policy as such is what ministers have decided (even if they may not be fully seized of all the consequences of those decisions). As former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, “Advisers advise, Ministers decide”.

As former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, “Advisers advise, Ministers decide”.

It is, however, because of the multi-faceted nature of the policy environment that we have tried where we can to avoid in this guidance the use of the term “policy-makers”. It begs the question, who really makes policy? The politicians who decide, the advisers who craft the proposals, the advocates and influencers who create the climate of opinion in which decisions are taken? For this reason we prefer to refer to policy communities, or to policy actors .

If you are reading this, you are probably already a member of a wider policy community, and interested in deepening your membership. However, to avoid confusion we have in this guidance drawn a distinction between policy actors, whose primary interest lies in the formulation and execution of public policy, and researchers, whose principal concern is with the systematic production of new knowledge.

Picturing the policy process

It is tempting to see policy-making less as a process, and more as a politically-charged domain of perceived problems, interests and competing proposed solutions in which decisions somehow emerge from complexity. Yet if the aim of public policy is to translate the political intention to make improvements in the world or to respond to challenges into practical outcomes, the notion of process – a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end, unfolding dynamically in time – is a useful corrective to more static descriptions of the policy environment which focus on the interests or competences of the actors. There are many ways of describing or depicting policy-making as a process, but over the years different versions of the policy sequential analysis model have been adopted by many scholars; this kind of model provides a simplified understanding of the complexities of the policy process by presenting it as a number of stages, each of which raises its own specific issues. Such an approach has, for example, been used to investigate the differing uses of evidence at different stages of the process.

The application of this kind of analysis can potentially be very helpful, first in determining at what point the knowledge they have acquired will add value to the policy process, and secondly in trying to understand where approximately the development of any issue they are interested in may have got to in the process. It is important to bear in mind that, while there are many possible entry-points for engagement and dialogue, there are stages when officials will try actively to resist the entry of new knowledge into consideration. This is not simply obstructiveness or a sign of closed minds; it is the consequence of attempting to manage an inherently chaotic process and drive things forward to the best decision possible in the circumstances. It can be depicted as the deliberate narrowing of a funnel, as suggested in the diagram, where the width of the funnel represents the openness of policy process to diverse voices, actors, and sources of information. (It is this narrowing effect and exclusion of new information which can then later lead to embarrassing episodes of contorted argument to defend the indefensible position officials find themselves and their Ministers in.) After implementation, the funnel narrows again at the time of any evaluation, as evidence is sifted, evaluative judgements made, and confidential discussions held on the most appropriate public response to the findings.

Diagram illustrating the deliberate narrowing of the policy process's openness to diverse voices, actors, and sources of information

The sequence of policy process phases can also be depicted as a cycle, which provides a useful heuristic device for teaching purposes and also indicates the iterative nature of public policy: few policy initiatives begin with a blank sheet and few ever represent the final word on an issue. There are, again, many different versions of such a cyclical diagram.

A cycle through: issue identification; aims, problem analysis, option generation & appraisal; preferred objectives; consultation; decision; implementation; maintenance, monitoring & review; evaluation; and the cycle begins again at issue identification

The complexity of policy-making

Such cyclical or sequential representations of policy-making have been unfashionable in the UK for some years, and indeed all are vulnerable to the criticism that they may imply an overly rational, intentional and orderly process. For example, a Cabinet Office report said that “ a model... showing sequential activities organised in a cycle . . . [does] not accurately reflect the realities of policy making . . . policy-making rarely proceeds as neatly as this model suggests and . . . no two policies will need exactly the same development process.”

Building on this, the Institute for Government said: “The issue is not that the model is wrong, but that it is too distant from reality to be useful. . . . it reduces policy making to a structured, logical methodical process that does not reflect reality. Even policies which have the semblance of proceeding in stages actually consist of a series of reversals and repetition. Stages are fused together, get driven by contingencies not logic, and produce diffuse effects that overlap with those from other policy initiatives.”

These are important caveats to keep in mind. All practitioners know that such models are just that – simplifying devices to aid analysis and comprehension – and that policy-making in reality is fraught with complexity, contingency, uncertainty, inadequate data, accident, misunderstandings and political conflict (some of it within government). They are not intended as algorithms, nor do they reflect prescribed procedures. But they do strive to represent the intrinsic logic through which the phases of policy-making can commonly be observed to unfold, albeit with iterative loops, reversals and false starts. At the same time, many case studies of dramatic policy failures show the risks than can materialise when stages are skipped or skimped, whether for reasons of urgency, overwhelming prior political conviction, or simple lack of capacity. Researchers seeking to open up a dialogue with policy officials in government should not expect there to be, at any one time, a clear sense that the response to a particular issue has reached a specific clearly-delineated stage of a defined process; they may, though, find such a visualisation a helpful aid to their own understanding of how, when and where to engage , and with who research findings may gain traction.

Professor Mark Reed describes the experience of policy officials well:

“It is easy to sit on the sidelines and criticise colleagues in the policy community for the many imperfections of real-world policy processes. It is a lot harder to be critical if you have spent any time working in government departments, trying to juggle the multiple competing claims on your time and the curve-balls that get thrown at you by politicians or external events. In addition to synthesising evidence from research, there is the need to balance the interests of different stakeholders and public opinion, and listen to the practitioners who may explain why theory (from our research) doesn’t always translate into practice.”

In addition, it is valuable in any governmental context to try to gain an understanding of the normal internal working practices , determined by habit, convention, assumptions and organisational and cultural norms, within any ministry, department or agency. These micro-processes, as much any formally determined procedure, will to a large extent determine how information (including research knowledge, gets into the policy process. The interested observer might try to take note of who asks or instructs whom to do what, and how prescriptively, and who does what on their own initiative. For example, would a senior official more typically direct a junior which resources to use when preparing a draft, point them to a particular external source of advice to consult or to commission to carry out a task, or simply ask them to investigate an issue? Developing an understanding of these practices can greatly help in knowing with whom and in what way researchers might productively seem to establish a dialogue. Such an understanding will be greatly aided by a long-term relationship with the organisation and immersion in its work, but the World Bank’s Bureaucracy Lab is producing some useful findings about the internal workings of governments across the world.

Understanding the policy process comes down in the end mainly to an appreciation that it is infinitely variable and contingent, that this interplay of factors is happening, and that it is essential to be responsive to this, to work within this complex system and its emergent features, and to try to sense how the dynamics are playing out.

One final word: despite the title of this guidance note, attempting to understand in any specific context how the multiple factors affecting policy making will interact with one another is probably a fool’s errand. Understanding the policy process comes down in the end mainly to an appreciation that it is infinitely variable and contingent, that this interplay of factors is happening, and that it is essential to be responsive to this, to work within this complex system and its emergent features, and to try to sense how the dynamics are playing out. And in the middle of all this one will usually find policy officials who are hugely task-oriented, and driven to get the job done to the satisfaction of their superiors and political masters.

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Policy capacities and effective policy design: a review

Ishani mukherjee.

1 School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University, 90 Stamford Road, Level 4, Singapore, 178903 Singapore

M. Kerem Coban

2 GLODEM, Koc University, Rumelifeneri Yolu, 34450 Istanbul, Turkey

Azad Singh Bali

3 The School of Politics & International Relations; The Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University, University Avenue, Acton, ACT 2600 Australia

Associated Data

Upon request.

Not applicable.

Effectiveness has been understood at three levels of analysis in the scholarly study of policy design. The first is at the systemic level indicating what entails effective formulation environments or spaces making them conducive to successful design. The second reflects more program level concerns, surrounding how policy tool portfolios or mixes can be effectively constructed to address complex policy objectives. The third is a more specific instrument level, focusing on what accounts for and constitutes the effectiveness of particular types of policy tools. Undergirding these three levels of analysis are comparative research concerns that concentrate on the capacities of government and political actors to devise and implement effective designs. This paper presents a systematic review of a largely scattered yet quickly burgeoning body of knowledge in the policy sciences, which broadly asks what capacities engender effectiveness at the multiple levels of policy design? The findings bring to light lessons about design effectiveness at the level of formulation spaces, policy mixes and policy programs. Further, this review points to a future research agenda for design studies that is sensitive to the relative orders of policy capacity, temporality and complementarities between the various dimensions of policy capacity.

Introduction: capacity considerations for effective policy design

The heart of policy design resides in the act of devising policy alternatives that meet stated government goals. While it is understood that not all policies can be carefully crafted, the policy sciences have been motivated by questions about why some policy alternatives are often developed well, while others are less so. Why do some policy choices, once formulated, effectively go forth through subsequent policymaking processes while others do not? How do some policies arise from meticulously crafted modes of formulation while others are shaped by partisan processes such as electoral or legislative bargaining (Howlett, 2011 ). Understanding factors that enable how deliberate designing of policy occurs and how superior designs can be achieved in complex issue-areas is central to the research agenda of the modern policy sciences (Howlett, 2014a , 2014b ; Howlett et al., 2017 ). The critical need to acknowledge, engage with and fully understand the capabilities underlying this exercise of good design, is also constantly escalating, especially in the face of widespread public crises.

Over the last few decades, a growing curiosity about the feasibility of formulation processes and the context within which policy choices unfold, has allowed policy scholars to gain a comparative perspective on policy design realities. Policy design is now generally defined as the purposive action of linking policy instruments with distinctly stated policy goals (Bobrow, 2006 ; Linder & Peters, 1984 ; Majone, 1975 ; May, 2003 ), stemming from the systematic endeavor to analyze how targets react or change their behaviors in response to instruments of governance. Effective design subsequently involves applying the knowledge gained about instrument-target relationships, to the creation of policies that can then predictably lead to desired policy outcomes (Bobrow & Dryzek, 1987 ; Gilabert & Lawford-Smith, 2012 ; Peters, 2018 ; Sidney, 2007 ; Weaver, 2009a , 2009b ). These activities are prefaced on the assumption that feasible polices can be realistically generated through effective design processes only when, firstly, contradictions internal to the substantive content of policy are resolved or minimized, and secondly, when the necessary capacities and capabilities to enact design procedures are in place (Bali et al., 2019 ; Mukherjee & Bali, 2019 ).

The recent scholarship in the policy sciences recognizes the first of these two emphases. For instance, studies anchored in the new design orientation explicitly focus on policy tools, how they are sequenced and assembled in mixes, how these mixes are calibrated, and their relative efficacies in meeting policy goals (del Río & Howlett, 2013 ; Howlett & Lejano, 2013 ). However, these studies have to a lesser degree raised issues about the capacity that is essential for effective policy design. In other words, experience from a variety of sectors and jurisdictions have alluded to what ‘effectiveness’ or ‘best practices’ imply for the activity of policy design, but lesser so about what capacities enable effectiveness.

Discussion of this latter topic is a largely scattered body of knowledge in the theoretical and empirical contribution of policy studies scholarship. For instance, the contemporary frameworks and theories of the policy process do not explicitly operationalize capacity as an independent variable in explaining policy outcomes (see for example Howlett et al., 2020a , 2020b for a recent review of the theories of the policy process). Here, we do not claim a ceteris paribus condition in which policy capacity is the only explanatory factor determining policy design effectiveness. While recognizing that many different determinants of policy design effectiveness exist, the article surveys the extant literature to specifically highlight the state of the knowledge on policy capacity requisites of policy design effectiveness. In doing so, the article brings to light the capacity ‘gap’ that exists in the policy design literature and draws lessons on not only what ‘effectiveness’ means at multiple levels of design but what is known to date about the capacities necessary for its enabling. The central question thus motivating this review asks what types of capacity are needed for effective policy design ? And to this aim, the article presents findings of a critical review synthesizing the existing scholarship on policy capacity and design in the policy sciences.

The article follows with an examination of the conceptual correspondence between the literatures on policy design effectiveness and policy capacity. The methodology informing this review is outlined next. In the fifth section that forms the core of our review, we consolidate the findings of our research on effective policy design spaces and instrument mixes and critically analyze these in the context of four emerging yet under-theorized themes from the scholarship on policy capacity, namely (1) the potential hierarchies in types of policy capacity, (2) the temporal dynamics within policy capacity, (3) task and agency-specific capabilities, and (4) complementarities among different types of capacities. We conclude by discussing avenues to advance a research agenda on effective design spaces and policy instrument mixes, which rigorously engages with these four themes of policy capacity.

Through this process, the paper makes two novel contributions focusing on the intersection of the policy design and policy capacity literatures. Firstly, it synthesizes the growing body of research in the policy sciences on effective policy design in terms of how particularly it discusses the necessary policy capacities that enable it. And secondly, by anchoring the review in the policy design orientation, the paper is able to identify four themes arising from the scholarly work on policy capacity that have yet to receive requisite theoretical and empirical scrutiny in the policy sciences. In doing so, we respond to repeated calls in the literature on the need to advance the scholarship and develop meaningful research questions on policy design effectiveness and the capacities that it necessitates. (Howlett & Lejano, 2013 ; Howlett et al., 2015a , 2015b ).

Understanding policy effectiveness

Policy effectiveness can be understood at three nested levels (Peters et al., 2018 ). The first relates to creating a conducive design space or an environment for policy formulation, which allows for effective policy design to occur (Howlett & Mukherjee, 2018a , 9). The second refers to developing effective policy mixes that are capable of addressing problems, and the third involves effectively designing and deploying individual policy instruments .

Effectiveness in design spaces

The essential idea is that the nature of the overall policy design space can significantly influence how effectively intended design activities occur and thus upon the likely resulting effectiveness of policy designs that emerge from them. These spaces reflect existing policy styles within a sector, are shaped by political conditions, reflect policy legacies (Howlett & Tosun, 2021 ), and therefore constrain (or enable) options available for designers. Developing policymaking spaces that are amenable to design activities involves a constant and concurrent stock-taking exercise of potential public capacities that might be pertinent in any problem-solving situation (Anderson, 1975 ). However, having an intention to be formal and analytical in designing and evaluating policy alternatives is not enough in itself to promote a design-centered process, since this also depends on the government’s ability to undertake such an analysis and to alter the status quo (Howlett & Mukherjee, 2018b ). Capacity challenges plaguing a design situation can lead to the generation of alternatives which are tenuously ‘patched’ together rather than deliberately packaged to uphold coherence and consistency (Howlett & Rayner, 2013 ).

Effectiveness in instrument mixes

While considerations for the design environment’s bearing on effective formulation have occupied the research agenda of policy tool studies in recent years, the new design orientation has contributed to a discourse on how to effectively incorporate policy mixes of policy goals and means (Briassoulis, 2005 ; Doremus, 2003 ; Gunningham et al., 1998 ; Hood, 2007 ; Howlett, 2011 ; Jordan et al., 2011 , 2012 ; Peters et al., 2005 , 2018 ; Yi & Feiock, 2012 ).

Selecting and deploying multiple instruments in the context of dedicated policy mixes ‘are all about constrained efforts to match goals and expectations both within and across categories of policy elements’ (Howlett, 2009a , 74). Achieving effectiveness with respect to deploying such mixes or policy portfolios relies on ensuring that mechanisms, calibrations, objectives and settings display ‘coherence’, ‘consistency’ and ‘congruence’ with each other (Howlett & Rayner, 2007 ). Scholars steeped in the new design orientation who are concerned with effectiveness have cautioned about how some policy mixes that are not designed in a planned fashion, can be plagued by internal inconsistencies, whereas others can be more successful in creating an internally supportive combination (del Río, 2010 ; Grabosky, 1994 ; Gunningham et al., 1998 ; Howlett & Rayner, 2007 ). This depends on how well they are able to adapt and support changing policy circumstances, as Thelen ( 2004 ) noted how the organization of macro-institutions has usually not resulted through calculated planning but rather has emerged out of processes of incremental adjustments such as ‘layering’ or ‘drift’ (Sewerin et al., 2020 ).

Effectiveness at the instrument level

While most of the research in the contemporary policy sciences have focused on issues around design spaces and instrument mixes, these has been limited, if any, comparative research on the efficacy of individual instruments and how they are calibrated (Capano and Howlett, 2020 ). At the most granular level, this third level of effectiveness focusses on the efficacy of individual policy tools and how these individual instruments are calibrated. Within this, we also need to differentiate between substantive instruments such as taxes, licenses, and subsidies; and the more indirect procedural instruments (such as competition, network structure, and royal commissions) which include administrative processes for selecting and deploying substantive tools (Capano and Howlett, 2020 ; Howlett, 2000 ).

There are at least three factors that condition the effectiveness of individual instruments and how they are calibrated. First, the extent to which substantive policy tools is supported by their procedural counterparts. Second, the extent to which critical institutional pre-requisites that condition the performance of instruments are present in policy mixes. Third, the extent of how far particular components of instruments or their calibrations can be easily adjusted in the short run and long run. This refers to changes in the settings of instruments such as adjusting tax rates or contribution rates for a pension fund. In some cases, there are sufficient ‘degrees of freedom’ to make these changes, or for them to be auto adjusting such as cost of living stabilizers, but in many cases calibrating instruments are difficult thereby undermining the effectiveness of an instrument.

Policy capacity: a brief review

Policy capacity, defined as a set of skills, competencies, and resources across government agencies to design and pursue policy goals (Rotberg, 2014 ; Howlett, 2015 ; Tiernan & Wanna, 2006 ; Wu et al., 2010 , 2015 ), has been a central research theme in public policy in recent years (Howlett and Ramesh, 2015 ; Newman et al., 2017 ; Karo & Kattel, 2018 ; Daugbjerg et al., 2018 ; Bali & Ramesh, 2019 ). In a notable first contribution, Wu et al. ( 2015 ) offer a framework to conceptualize policy capacity at multiple levels of governance. They argue that capacity can be understood as skills and competencies existing across government agencies at three nested levels: the individual (e.g., policymakers, decision-makers), the organization (e.g., an agency or a program), and at the systemic level (e.g., the whole of government or the macro level institutional, structural contexts) (Table ​ (Table1). 1 ).

Dimensions and levels of policy capacity.

Source : Adapted from Wu et al. ( 2015 ) and Howlett and Ramesh ( 2015 )

At the level of individuals occupied with policy formulation, those striving for effective design require technical know-how to conduct practical policy analysis and disseminate knowledge, while leadership and negotiation abilities are additionally relevant for those in managerial positions. Analysts also need political savvy and acumen for incorporating and accounting for various stakeholder interests and assessing political feasibility. At the level of government organizations , information mobilization capabilities to enable timely and relevant policy analysis, administrative capital for ongoing coordination between policymaking agencies, and political backing all fundamentally build overall policy capacity. At the system level, effective policy design requires institutions for knowledge creation and utilization, alongside mechanisms to coordinate across different levels of government, and overall trust and political legitimacy (Mukherjee & Howlett, 2016 ).

Howlett and Ramesh ( 2015 ) extend Wu et al.’s ( 2015 ) work on capacity drawing on the metaphor of an ‘Achilles’ Heel.’ That is, how certain types of capacities can become critical to the sustaining policy efforts and outcomes in specific modes of governance, and how any weaknesses in these ‘critical’ capacities can undermine policy efforts (Menaheim and Stein 2013 ).

Technical knowledge, for example, is a critical capacity required for the sustainable functioning of policy systems based on market-based governance. Analytical skills at the level of individual analysts and policy workers are key, and the ‘policy analytical capacity’ (Rayner et al., 2013 ; Wellstead et al., 2011 ) of government needs to be especially high to deal with complex quantitative economic and financial issues involved in regulating and steering the sector and preventing crises (Bakır & Çoban, 2019 ; Rayner et al., 2013 ; Woo et al., 2016 ). Similarly, undertaking policy design within legal systems of governance relying heavily on high levels of managerial capacities that can deter against diminishing returns of compliance or mounting non-compliance with government directives (Coban, 2020a ; May, 2005 ). Capacities at the systemic level can be especially critical in this case as governments find it difficult to enact traditional command-and-control instruments in the absence of overall public trust.

The appeal of Wu et al.’s ( 2015 ) framework lies in its inherent simplicity. Each of the nine capabilities lend themselves to, in principle, being empirically operationalized and allows analysts to assess strengths and weaknesses of governments across different types of capabilities (e.g., Bajpai and Chong, 2019 ; Saguin et al., 2018 ). Yet such simplicity also generates concerns.

First, the contribution by Wu et al. ( 2015 ) does not lend itself to drawing causal inference or developing a theory of policy capacity. Moreover, as our review demonstrates below, the mechanisms that connect indicators with specific types of capacities are not explicitly mentioned. Secondly, the current literature seems to adopt a benevolent approach to incumbents relying on or mobilizing policy capacity. 1 That is, policy capacity could also facilitate the ‘dark side’ of policymaking (Howlett, 2020 ), by advancing policymakers’ self-interested, political and/or economic ‘rent-seeking’ objectives (see Chindarkar et al., 2017 ; Howlett and Mukherjee, 2016 ). Furthermore, it can be instrumental for developing ‘placebo policies’ as ‘agenda management safety valves’ (McConnell, 2020 , 965) or for ‘hidden agendas’ (McConnell, 2018 ) to further political goals rather than addressing the core of policy problems. These represent unchartered areas, especially if we consider the challenges generated by the rise of populism and autocratization around the world (Kelemen, 2017 ; Maerz, 2020 ; Norris & Inglehart, 2019 ).

This review relies on building and scrutinizing a database of peer-reviewed journal articles that are located at the intersection of policy capacity, policy design, and effectiveness. A keyword search based on these themes was conducted on Scopus, and Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science (WoS). Scopus and WoS are two major repositories of scientific knowledge published in various forms: conference proceedings, edited book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles. The search protocol was conducted similarly on both databases to cross-check for any duplicate journal articles, and avoided selection bias that can result from extracting data from a single database. The search covered three collections of WoS citation indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Arts and Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI). We explicitly included ESCI and A&HCI along with SSCI given our concerns for inclusivity.

The data collection and sample selection process had four steps. The first involved searching for, ‘policy design’, ‘capacity’, ‘effectiveness’, as keywords for the topic of an article. In this focused search, we omitted a set of alternative keywords such as ‘capability’, which are mostly used in public management scholarship. More importantly, the focused search as conducted through these keywords allowed us to capture a range of terms, such as ‘governance capacity’ and ‘administrative capacity’, in which capacity has been used in the context of policy design and/or design effectiveness. As such, it should be noted that articles that incorporated such varieties of capacity, but did not directly discuss policy design were excluded from the final database. In this light, we are aware that the search focused on a designated subset in the existing policy design literature. However, this scope allowed us to fully capture the dispersed attempts made so far to deliberately link policy capacity and design effectiveness and address our express interest in showcasing the current state of the literature that is located at the intersection of policy capacity, policy design, and design effectiveness. Additionally, the search was designed to be as inclusive as possible given the time period, disciplines, and multiple databases that it incorporates.

While acknowledging the limitations of the search logic described herein, we maintain that additional keywords would result in extra layers that dilute the task of specifically exploring the policy capacity requisites for policy design effectiveness. We also note that detecting journal articles on WoS and Scopus required us to run the search several times with various combinations of these keywords. This is because research that is positioned at the intersection of policy capacity, policy design, and effectiveness is in its adolescence. We therefore combined the results of multiple searches while removing duplicate entries. Our search covered the period between 1900 and May 17, 2020, the date we ran the search on WoS and Scopus. This time period allowed for construction of an inclusive database. This search yielded a sample of 9382 sources. The second step involved filtering our initial search for journal articles that are published in English. 2 The result of this process reduced the sample to 7441 articles. In the third step, we further refined our search by filtering the articles according to various relevant (inter)disciplinary areas: ‘political science’, ‘public administration’, ‘economics’, ‘management’, ‘international relations’, ‘sociology’, ‘social sciences interdisciplinary.’ In so doing, we included articles that are not only published in political science and public administration but also in other main social science disciplines and those that were classified in the interdisciplinary social sciences category. This choice was mainly driven by inclusivity concerns and an expectation of capturing articles that may empirically or conceptually refer to policy design, policy capacity, and/or effectiveness. The result of the second stage to limit our search to relevant fields yielded 1431 journal articles.

Following the above-mentioned steps, we read titles, abstracts, and full texts to further refine the most relevant articles. Articles that had the main keywords in the topic, but were not directly related to our research questions were omitted based on a reading of their introductory sections and research questions. We omitted articles that used different forms of capacity without an explicit interest in operationalizing capacity for design effectiveness. We also omitted articles that attempted to measure or evaluate effectiveness of an instrument or program. In this regard, as our interest in this article is to make sense of what capacity for ‘effectiveness’ means at multiple levels of design, our exclusion criteria meant that we eliminated articles which presented only nominal links between policy design and policy capacity. Consequently, the final sample included 146 articles. As for coding, the sample included articles that discuss policy design as well as effectiveness. Therefore, coding had to sort according to levels of policy design and dimensions of policy capacity. This process involved two tracks. First, we coded articles to capture dimensions of policy capacity according to parameters suggested by Wu et al. ( 2018 , 6–14). Second, reading the articles served to code an article whether it did examined design space, discussing design effectiveness of a policy instrument, policy mixes reading the articles led us to code articles whether it was about design space, discussing design effectiveness of a policy instrument, policy mixes/programs, or combinations levels of policy design.

Table ​ Table2 2 and Fig.  1 summarize the results of the coding process. Articles on design space, policy mixes and programs have the highest share among those referring to level of policy design. A main observation at the outset is that there is a significant gap in the literature on studies discussing policy design and capacity at the level of individual instruments. The review included explicitly those scholarly contributions that engage with capacity considerations. Undoubtedly, the field of environmental policy (and for that matter social policy and financial policy) is replete with the discussion of singular instrument types such as taxes, social security schemes, emissions trading schemes, among others. But this review could not identify articles that expressly deal with the question of capacity and what is needed on the part of policy designers to formulate these instruments, which is a significant void that needs to be filled in future studies. Even the studies that distill the state of knowledge on effective program design, rarely discuss individual constituent policy tools.

Levels of policy design and dimensions of policy capacity

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Dimensions of policy capacity and levels of policy design

On the dimensions of policy capacity, articles address analytical and political capacity more so than operational, while there is a more equal distribution of articles referring to individual, organizational, or systemic scales. In addition, our observations point to a limited number of studies that look at both organizational and individual policy capacity, as well as both political and operational policy capacities. Finally, we note that only a few studies attempt to relate policy capacity with effective design space for global public policies, instruments, and mixes/programs (Bernstein & Cashore, 2012 ; Cashore et al., 2019 ; Dare, 2018 ; Dorsch & Flachsland, 2017 ; Jordan & Huitema, 2014 ; Stone & Ladi, 2015 ; Vince & Nursey-Bray, 2016 ).

Policy capacity requisites for effective policy design: emerging trends and existing gaps

In this section, we discuss the main findings on the link between policy design effectiveness and policy capacity as revealed through the review of the literature. While these findings are discussed at the level of effective policy design spaces and effective instrument mixes, we critically examine them through the perspective of four overarching emphases that that are developing within the scholarship on policy capacity and policy design (Bali & Ramesh, 2018 , 340–341; Howlett and Ramesh, 2015 ; Capano & Howlett, 2020 ; Howlett et al., 2015a , 2015b ). These are, namely:

  • Hierarchies or ‘orders’ among specific types of capacities, which indicate what kinds of capabilities are more pre-requisite and foundational to others that are more ‘second-tier’ and aspirational.
  • Temporality of policy capacity endowments, or the time needed for policy capacity investments to achieve actual effectiveness outcomes.
  • The distinction between task-specific and agency-specific policy capacities and how to reconcile between them; and
  • The synergies and complementarities between different policy capacities.

Capacities for effective policy design spaces

Developing effective design spaces is fundamentally about ensuring that policy tools are anticipated to fit or cohere with broad governance arrangements, while delivering a means to address certain policy goals. It is argued, for example, that several variables are critical for effectiveness within collaborative modes of governance, including reconciling with ‘prior history of conflict or cooperation, the incentives for stakeholders to participate, power and resource imbalances, leadership and institutional design’ (Ansell & Gash, 2008 , 543). Similarly, the absence of clear property rights and mechanisms to enforce contracts stymie the effectiveness of hybrid governance arrangements to design suitable public–private partnerships (PPPs) in service delivery (Virani, 2019 ).

An enabling design space that is able to support the design of its constituent policy instruments signifies an environment that is marked by high analytical, operational and political capacity (Capano, 2018 ; Chindarkar et al., 2017 ). Determining exactly what capacities are required in order to develop the political and administrative spaces needed to carry out complex policy design processes is currently a subject of much interest in the field (Considine, 2012 ). In order to address these issues, it is recognized that policy designers need to be cognizant about the internal mechanisms of their polity and constituent policy sectors which can boost or undermine their ability to think systematically about policy and develop effective policies (Braathen, 2007 ; Braathen & Croci, 2005 ; Grant, 2010 ; Skodvin et al., 2010 ).

In this vein, organizations and individual policymakers need political support from the policy design spaces or environments that they occupy. For this, they derive legitimacy and authority from system-level political capacity, which subsequently creates a favorable milieu for the application of individual and organizational political capacities during the design process (Woo et al., 2015 ; Xiarchogiannopoulou, 2015 ). Political support to policymakers and interactions between policymakers and politicians have been argued as being non-substitutable when it comes to overcoming ambiguous goals and promoting managerial effectiveness, by supplying organizations with a clear understanding of their overall mandate (Meckling & Nahm, 2018 ; Stazyk & Goerdel, 2011 ).

At more individual and organizational levels, political capacity is essential for maneuvering effectively within the constraints of the design space (Hartley et al., 2015 ) and is embodied in the levels of trust, especially political trust and legitimacy within the public sector. Individual and organizational political capacity is also necessary to garner strategic stakeholder support that is vital both before and during the design process, as well as in subsequent stages of policy implementation (Bali & Ramesh, 2019 ). For example, in the case of macro-prudential policy, a suitable financial policy mix is possible in an enabling design space that is characterized by capable, analytically skilled individual central bankers that have coalition-building skills, a government committed to evidence-informed policy, and presence of inter-organizational collaboration mechanisms at system level (Bakır & Çoban, 2019 ).

This example also highlights the importance of ‘legitimation capacity’ in effective design environments (Woo et al., 2015 ; see also Pal & Clark, 2015 ). Policymakers and organizations that are highly regarded by key societal actors and receive sustained political support are able design effective policies with more accountability (Busuioc & Lodge, 2016 ; Rimkuté, 2018 ). For example, as is visible in the case of health and safety regulation in the UK, the regulatory agency’s outreach and engagement with policy targets increases its political acumen by helping to overcoming citizens’ biases, and furthering its legitimacy by shoring up societal support for future policy design (Dunlop, 2015 ). This case also underscores the dilemma that may exist between expertise-led, technocratic, and less accountable design on the one hand; and participatory, more accountable design processes on the other, and the relative effectiveness of either situation (Montpetit, 2008 ). Yet, overall high levels of trust and political support at the system level are shown in most cases to allow the design process to be endowed with necessary information and access to critical resources at the outset (Chindarkar et al., 2017 ; Hartley et al., 2015 ).

An example of this latter context is the rise of ‘big data’ analytics that has also necessitated a parallel emphasis on big data readiness at all three levels of capacity (Clarke & Craft, 2017 ; Giest, 2017 ; Giest & Mukherjee, 2018 ; Golan et al., 2017 ). For example, policy responses to the Covid-19 pandemics in countries like Singapore have included combining mobile-phone-tower data and machine learning to develop social graphs that track propinquity to improve contact-tracing (The Economist, 2020 ; see also Woo, 2020 on the Singapore case). Big data has also been used for network analysis in policy formulation (Giest, 2017 ). But, the availability of data, network analysis and modeling necessitate complex skills such as making use of software, models to produce insights that inform policy design. Moreover, related studies have repeatedly underlined that policymakers should take into consideration behavioral dimensions of policies, which becomes more likely when organizational infrastructure allows for the participatory collection as well as engagement with behavioral data and analysis (Leong & Howlett, 2020 ; Mukherjee & Mukherjee, 2018 ).

Hierarchies within types of capacities

Studies in this review of effective design spaces implicitly operationalize specific types of capacities as a spectrum of independent variables and argue that they shape policy outcomes. While this advances our understanding of how capacity is connected with notions of effectiveness, the causal mechanisms that undergird such links have not always been made clear. This can be explained to some extent by the tendency in the literature to operationalize capacity in a straightforward, often univariate manner, while ignoring possible orders or hierarchies among specific types of capacities. In other words, policy capacity can be multi-dimensional with notable interaction between foundational, first-order and more aspirational or ‘second-order’ capacities. Lodhi ( 2018 ) and Hartley and Zhang ( 2018 ), for instance, suggest a comprehensive measurement of policy capacity. Such efforts can then allow for multiple orders of capacities to be observed while and better locate the interactions between them. A focus on how policy capacities at one level can enable, prevail over those, or constrain capacities at the other two levels are neglected factors when theorizing the link between policy capacity and policy design effectiveness.

For example, if system-level policy capacity is more crucial as it constitutes the environment in which an organization or an individual policymaker operates, can it be postulated that without the acquisition of system-level capacities, even high individual or organizational policy capacity might not be sufficient for effective policy design? More research along this vein is warranted to advance our understanding about any hierarchy or orders of policy capacity and the role they play in developing effective design spaces.

Along the same lines, most studies in this review focus on operationalizing a specific type of capacity rather than considering how combinations or interactions between different types of capacities shape policy outcomes. For instance, in a context wherein system-level policy capacities are high but individual policy capacities cannot uphold organizational capacities, one may observe sub-optimal design or even non-design. Such a case could indicate that while we may consider the presence of system-level policy capacity to be detrimental for on-the-ground mobilization of organizational and/or individual policy capacity, the reverse dynamic may also be important for effective policy design.

Further, while most studies in the review have considered political capacity to play a more critical role than operational and analytical capacities, they have stopped short of developing hypothesis or propositions to attribute plausible reasons for its significance. This, in turn, stagnates any advancement in how specific types of capacities can explain and beget design effectiveness.

Temporal dynamics of capacity

There is a gap in our understanding on the temporal dynamics and change within the policy design literature (see, e.g., Capano & Howlett, 2020 ; Bali & Ramesh, 2018 ), and this lacuna is also evident in this review of necessary capacities for effect design. Temporality in the context of capacities for effective design explores changes in specific types of capacity endowments over time, to their sustained or ultimate impacts on policy outcomes. It also includes a consideration of how investments in capacity building have a latent gestation period before which they begin to affect outcomes. None of the studies in this review explicitly dwelled on the temporal dimensions of capacities, echoing the popular refrain on the largely atheoretic discussion on policy tools and capacity (Howlett & Ramesh, 2015 ; Howlett et al., 2015a , 2015b ).

Temporality in the context of effective policy design can be conceptualized in two ways. The first is to consider the impact and scope of changes in capacity on effectiveness at different stages of design process. For example, what are the causal mechanisms by which changes in capacities contribute to changes in policy outcomes? That is, do interventions at time t 0 affect outcomes by time t n . Is the lag between t n –t 0 standardized across different types of capacities? Such lines of enquiry can inform about how individual, organizational, or system-level policy capacities change over time and result in fluctuations in the effectiveness of policy designs. For instance, the National Sample Survey Organizations of India in the 1950s was recognized globally as a center for excellence and pioneering statistical sampling techniques and methodologies, but in recent years has become mired in controversy on the quality of its statistical estimates (Banerjee et al., 2017 ).

Secondly, a discussion on temporality also implicates concerns about robustness and resilience of policy design. Robustness over time can enable policymakers, organizations or a system to endure shocks, policy surprises, and turbulence, while allowing them flexibility (Ansell et al., 2016 ; Capano & Woo, 2017 ; Howlett et al., 2018 ; Mergel et al., 2021 ). Endurance could be achieved with adaptability to structural, institutional and actor-level changes and/or evolution of existing policy capacities over time (e.g., Alaerts, 2020 ; Capano & Pavan, 2019 ; Van Der Steen et al., 2018 ). And subsequent adaptability could arise on improvements in complementarities among different types and levels of critical capacity requisites. These are particularly relevant to anticipatory policy design (Bali et al., 2019 ; Huitema et al., 2018 ; Kimbell & Vesnić-Alujević, 2020 ), especially in cases of high contextual uncertainty, as is exemplified by numerous examples of climate change impacts on agriculture or water policy domains (Nair & Howlett, 2017 ). While such a conceptualization seems plausible, the existing literature lacks a systematic understanding of what types of capacities enable design spaces to endure substantial changes in the structural and institutional contexts of policies as, for example, the Covid-19 crisis has already demonstrated (Walter, 2020 ; Weible, 2020 ).

These considerations also call for a discussion on the temporal nature of acquiring or engendering policy capacities and which of these are necessary earlier on in the design process. For example, effective policy design could be the outcome of initial improvements in individual and organizational capacities, which may later require the build-up and/or mobilization of system-level capacities. These are propositions that need to be examined to advance our understanding of whether or not individuals, organizations, or systems need to build particular capacities first for effective policy design to subsequently unfold.

Capacities for effective instrument mixes and programs

The growing intractability of contemporary challenges that governments face in areas such as health and urban planning among others has necessitated the use of multiple policy tools to be carefully and deliberately assembled in policy mixes or portfolios (Howlett & Lejano, 2013 ). This has made the task of effective policy design more challenging, as designers have to match not only policy goals and aims, but also instrument mixes and governance modes (Peters & Pierre, 2015 ; Tosun & Lang, 2017 ; Wen, 2017 ). In turn, this effort towards striving for compatibility requires a spectrum of analytical capacities that enables policymakers, organizations and political systems to employ skills pertaining to the accurate articulation of operational objectives, which in turn require an accurate interpretation of context relevant information and data. These analytical skills become fundamental to the success of sector-wide programs that may otherwise suffer from a mismatch between stated objectives and the policy tool collections that are constructed as a response. In other words, and as reported in many program-level studies, the more (or less) policymakers resemble analytically capable policy designers, the more (or less) likely they are to construct an effective mix of policies through a program. For instance , Siwale and Okoye ( 2017 ) argue that microfinance program initiatives in Zambia were ineffective largely due to limitations in policymakers’ analytical capabilities.

Besides individual and organizational policy capacities, reforms buttressed on the tenets of New Public Management (NPM) marked administrative changes in the late 1990s, which embodied a large, albeit skewed, emphasis on the kinds of capabilities that are necessary for policy success. With this transformation, policy capacity to design and steer policies became truncated, as states increasingly contracted out the delivery of public services to the private sector and civil society. This has been argued to have resulted in loss of policy capacity within government, in the reform era, in the form of declining skilled human resources which affect both organizational and system-level analytical and operational capacity within the state apparatus (Bakvis, 2002 ; Baskoy et al., 2011 ; Craft & Daku, 2017 ; Donahue et al., 2000 ; Howlett, 2000 , 2009b ; Lodge, 2013 ). Put differently, with the ‘hollowing out’ of the state, the changing role of the state as the primary actor in the design process has evolved into that of a policy navigator that steers the policy process and coordinates the interactions between non-state actors and those between the state and non-state actors (Lindquist, 1992 ). Policy capacity in this sense has been often supplemented by external expertise, knowledge, know-how supplied by variegated epistemic communities, think tanks, business, international organizations, scientists, non-governmental organizations, or civil society groups among others can supply (Haas, 1992 ; Stone, 2003 ).

With the externalization of knowledge and related capacities, many studies have alluded to greater participation being fundamental for effective program design that needs to be shaped in a way that is more notably open to stakeholder input and learning from that input (Borrás, 2011 ; Hoppe, 2011 , 2018 ; Jordan & Huitema, 2014 ; Vince & Nursey-Bray, 2016 ). The water quality program in the European Union (EU) is a case in point. Brown ( 2000 ) examines the EU’s operational and analytical capacity to design effective directives when it faces scientific uncertainty in the given policy area, and most importantly fluid number and quality of staff (see also Jensen, 2018 on policy capacity requisites for effective water policy in developing countries).

This case and others demonstrate that input from international organizations and local stakeholders generally tend to increase the supranational organization’s operational and analytical capacity. Echoing the call for greater participation, Mukherjee and Mukherjee ( 2018 ) determine citizen participation to be fundamental in co-production in rural sanitation programs in India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. Lang ( 2014 ) studies analytical capacity in PPPs in which the private sector brings its own expertise to complement goals set out by policymakers. Similarly, Bengston et al. ( 2004 ) sheds light on participation of citizens and other stakeholders in urban policy in making formulation more effective. These studies all suggest that when policymakers have a tendency to underestimate or even ignore stakeholder participation and input, the effectiveness of policy design and implemented policies can decline considerably. While a few recent studies have now begun to look at particular types of capacities that different stakeholders, especially interest groups, can contribute (see Coban, 2020b ; Daugbjerg et al., 2018 ) they still fall short of addressing the benefits or challenges they can bring specifically to policy design effectiveness, thus calling for further research in this area.

Additionally, when non-state actors participate actively in the design process, this understandably has implications for the governance capacities that are available for effective policy formulation. Studies highlighting polycentric policy design processes have emphasized policy capabilities for enabling the coordination and collaboration of multiple actors. Political capacity to manage collaboration and coordination has also been called ‘collaborative capacity’ in some public management literature, within organizations or specific programs (Ansell & Gash, 2008 ; Braun, 2008a , 2008b ; Schout & Andrew, 2008 ; Weber et al., 2007 ).

In a multi-level design situation, such as policy programs, horizontal and vertical coordination of parties similarly demand high political capacity (Peters, 2015 ). Golan et al. ( 2017 ), for example, show that lack of effective coordination between the central authorities and the local authorities in the design of rural cash transfer programs that omit a considerable share of the target population, lead to reduced effectiveness of the program’s objectives. Similarly, Wen’s ( 2017 ) study on social policy in China indicates that when the central state does not coordinate policy design with the local authorities that lack policy capacity, policy design effectiveness faces substantial challenges at all levels.

Collaboration and coordination challenges have been significant in developing countries as well as in advanced economies. Williams and McNutt ( 2013 ), focusing on policy programs for climate change adaptation in the Canadian finance sector, assert network management capacities for aligning the targets of local and federal and provincial agencies to be built into the design of the programs and well before their implementation. Additionally, Skeete ( 2017 ) examines policy instrument mixes that regulate carbon emissions emanating from diesel use in the European Union (EU). The author finds that lack of coordination between member states and EU authorities, besides leading to inherent flexibilities of the regulatory framework, also leads to fuel taxes failing to achieve original climate policy goals. Similarly, Spendzharova ( 2016 ) maintains that disconnect between EU member states and EU authorities in the design of banking structure reforms after the global financial crisis leads to a mismatch in design processes in terms of prioritizing domestic reforms vis-à-vis EU level financial reforms.

Complementarities in policy capacities

Such studies on policy instrument mixes and programs highlight the primary role of analytical capacity in developing and deploying effective instrument mixes. However, it can be insufficient if not operating alongside suitable organizational and political capacities, which ultimately determine how successfully they are implemented (Bali et al., 2019 ; Mukherjee & Bali, 2019 ). In other words, analytical capabilities are enhanced or sharpened by operational and political capacity endowments at the level of organizations. This is not surprising as policy design is ultimately a political activity and requires individual policymakers to strategically operate within a broad community of policy stakeholders and organizations (Peters, 2015 ).

For example, Mukherjee and Giest ( 2019 ) show how individual policy entrepreneurs’ capacity to form and maintain coalitions has enabled effective use of individual, organizational and system-level capacities in digital transformation in the EU. Similarly, Ramesh and Bali ( 2019 ) demonstrate how operational capabilities in Singapore’s health system were amplified by sustained political capacity and trust in government. However, these studies and others in this review do not develop generalizable propositions that can be empirically examined on the complementarities and synergies among different types of capacities in different contexts. That is, the aggregate impact of a series of specific capacity endowments is larger than their individual impacts (Wu et al., 2015 ). Similarly, do critical deficits in capacities affect outcomes? (Howlett & Ramesh, 2015 ). These theoretical gaps are particularly visible given that developing policy designs that harness synergies and complementarities among tools is a central theme in the new design orientation (Howlett et al., 2015a , Howlett et al., 2015b ).

One way to address this missing link is to canvass the recent advances around policy success in the public management literature. For instance, design effectiveness is intrinsically related to policy success, as ‘successful policy often resides in policy design and the diligent work undertaken’ (McConnell, 2017 , 17). These themes have been interrogated further in a series of studies that aim to advance what is described as ‘positive public administration’ (Compton & ‘t Hart, 2019 ; Luetjens et al., 2019 ; Douglas et al., 2019 ), which define success across four broad dimensions: if it achieves its goals (i.e., programmatic success), produces largely supported socially appropriate outcomes (i.e., process success), contributes to problem-solving capacity and enhance legitimacy (i.e., political success), and is robust (i.e., endurance) (Ibid, 5).

Connecting groups of capacities with specific dimensions of success can allow analysts to develop proposals around complementarities in capacities to be then examined empirically. For example, policy success could be less likely when operational capacity at system level in the form of coordination mechanisms both within the state and between the state and non-state actors is not established and/or mobilized. Testable claims that emerge from this debate are that if these conditions are not met, enabling political and processual success may not emerge leading to incongruent policy goals and tools. Cumulatively, these outcomes may result in failures in programmatic and endurance terms, bringing about policy (instrument) fiascos (Bovens & ‘t Hart, 2016 ). This in turn provides a richer understanding of the types of capacities required for developing and deploying effective mixes.

Task and agency-specific capacities

There is a tendency in the literature and in contemporary debates to use ‘policy capacity’ as a catchall phrase (Wu et al., 2015 ). An avenue to overcome this simplification is to engage rigorously with the ‘capacity for what’ question (Bali & Ramesh, 2018 ). That is, to identify, ex ante, and theorize task-specific and agency-specific capacities needed for routine but complex tasks in contemporary service delivery such as contracting, managing PPPs, and administering pension funds; and accomplishing these effectively during periods of extreme uncertainties and volatility such as crises (Capano et al., 2020 ; Stirling, 2010 ).

The new design orientation has set up a tall order for effectiveness in program designs whereby designs must be coordinated, coherent, reduce contingent liabilities, and avoid Type 1&2 errors, among others (Bali & Ramesh,  2017 ; 2018 ; Howlett, 2018 ). For example, while network governance may be well suited to policy design for sensitive issues such as elderly care or parental supervision (Pestoff et al., 2012 ) in other situations, civil society may not be well enough organized or endowed in order to generate beneficial network modes of governance off-the-ground and without initial regulatory support (Tunzelmann, 2010 ). Networks, for example, ‘will fail when governments encounter capability problems at the organizational level such as a lack of societal leadership, poor associational structures and weak state steering capacities which make adoption of network governance modes problematic’ (Howlett & Ramesh, 2014 , 324).

However, in our review there is limited, if any, theoretical discussion on the types of capacities needed to achieve these outcomes. That is, the range of capacities required to accomplish tasks such as contracting, commissioning, and collaboration while all under the umbrella of network governance require a variety of distinct capabilities and skillsets (O’Flynn, 2019 ). Failing to recognize these variations and invest in task-specific capabilities has played a key role in failed social policy reforms in many developing economies (Maurya & Ramesh, 2019 ; Virani, 2019 ). Along the same lines, variations in the capacities of agencies within government to pursue such tasks must be recognized (Bardhan, 2016 ).

Conclusion: avenues to advance the research agenda on capacity and design

This paper addresses a scattered body of knowledge in the policy sciences and aims to advance our understanding of the relationship between policy capacity and effective policy design. To this end, this paper presents a review of the existing literature that studies effective policy design through the lens of policy capacity, and argues that such a perspective offers an important starting point for scrutinizing the role of complementarities among organizational, individual, and system-level analytical, operational, and political capacities, within the broader policy sciences.

Clarifying the relationship between design effectiveness and policy capacities is central to advancing the research agenda of the new design orientation in the policy sciences. The theoretical union of these two bodies of literature, at its core, is about reiterating the problem-solving approach in the policy sciences. That is, it inspires building on the research questions surrounding how specific policy interventions are devised to address specific types of problems, with notions of what is fundamentally needed to enable these designs. The most well-intentioned efforts at policy design can be constrained by the capabilities of governments, and those involved in the design process (Mukherjee & Bali, 2019 ). Forwarding such a research agenda can further refine the generalizable hypotheses to investigate and improve policy deliberations regarding effective policy formulation, which already inform the policy sciences (Howlett & Lejano, 2013 ; Howlett et al., 2015a , Howlett et al., 2015b ). To this end, this review has provided several starting points for infusing policy design research with policy capacity concerns.

Our central thesis is that the growing body of research on policy design effectiveness, which is synthesized in this paper, remains largely descriptive and tends to confound rather than clarify the relationship between policy capacity and effective policy design. Our review points to several outstanding questions that need to be highlighted: Do individual, organizational, or system-level policy capacity change over time? Does effectiveness of policy designs and success of policies vary over time with changes in policy capacity of various types ‘spilling over’ and at different levels? Thirdly, do orders of policy capacity exist? And can we distinguish between hierarchies or levels of policy capacity, which have serious implications for effective policy design and thereby policy success (or failure). Specifically, this strand of reasoning can help distil those capacities that are fundamental at the start of policy design (t 0) before successive ones are developed at subsequent stages of policy design (at t 1 and expectedly later at t n ). Is there a hierarchy among levels of policy capacity? If yes, then what is the nature of that hierarchy and are there causal inferences that can be drawn between more fundamental ‘enabling’ capacities and more aspirational ‘second-tier’ capacities? And, how does such a hierarchy impact effectiveness of policy design and determine policy success (or failure)? Finally, given the lack of focus on policy capacity requisites for effective individual policy instrument design, does, and if so, how policy capacity enable effective policy instruments?

Scholarly efforts to engage with these questions can be a generative exercise, signposting new areas for theoretical exploration and empirical testing. In this concluding section, we briefly comment on two avenues to synthesize our critique, by engaging with the two respective levels of policy effectiveness that have been explored in this paper.

Effective policy design spaces: situating capacity in theories of the policy process

A central theme in the policy design literature, which pervades all studies covered in this review, is that an enabling design space provides a platform for successful policy design, as such spaces are supported by significant capacity endowments, which not only improve policy deliberation but also allows designers to best navigate changing and often volatile design contexts (Howlett & Mukherjee, 2018a , 2018b ; Howlett et al., 2018 ; Peters et al., 2018 ; Rahman et al., 2019 ). However, most of this discussion remains largely divorced from mainstream theories and frameworks of the policy process, especially those that explain policy formulation and deliberation styles of governments. If our goal is to advance our understanding of effective design spaces, and what capacities engender them, we need to locate capacity within frameworks and theories of the policy process that are focused on them. For instance, interrogating the role of capacity in incrementalism, the policy narrative framework, or the advocacy coalition framework can generate theoretically grounded propositions and empirical testing on specific mechanisms through which capacity shapes design spaces.

Effective instrument mixes and programs: developing capacity as an independent variable

Another avenue to engage with questions relating to hierarchies, complementarities and temporal dynamics of specific types of capacities raised earlier in this paper is to explicitly canvass policy capacity as a system of independent variables, and to examine its causal impact on policy outcomes. However, as Peters ( 2020 ) states, this is challenging to do especially in the context of policy design as its impact is intermediated by many exogenous factors (Peters, 2020 ). And, as has been noted earlier, the links between specific types of capacities and how they are empirically operationalized are not always clear. Nonetheless, these methodological shortcomings can be managed to some extent by through in-depth critical case studies (see Yee & Liu, 2021 ), or focusing on comparisons among most similar cases (see Yan & Saguin, 2021 ), and avoiding sweeping comparisons that are characteristic in studies of comparative public policy. Similarly, limitations around how capacity is empirically operationalized can be managed by encouraging problem or policy-specific capacity studies. For example, Bajpai and Chong ( 2019 ) extend Wu et al.’s ( 2015 ) framework to study foreign policy capacity. Similarly, Bali and Ramesh ( 2021 ) operationalize different types of capacities to sustain health reform.

Dealing with capacity as explanatory variables would allow analysts to engage with questions around hierarchies, complementarities, and temporal dynamics raised in this review. Specifically, studies can test claims that without system-level political capacity (i.e., trust in government, accountability, legitimacy), having high operational and analytical capacities at individual and/or organizational levels may have less impact on design since mobilization of these capacities might not deliver legitimate, widely supported policies at later stages of policy design. Forthcoming research could also explore whether or not system-level political capacity is indeed the most fundamental type of capacity, while the remaining are more secondary or complementary. It may also be the case that any ‘secondary’ capacities at individual or managerial levels can be observed to contribute to solidifying political capacity at system level, and research on these directional relationships between different orders of policy capacity would greatly enrich the discussion on policy process and more specifically policy design.

These questions reveal a certain degree of agitation and urgency with wanting to find critical answers about how to match publicly salient goals with means that are effective, durable, equitable and also flexible in erratic policy contexts. Joining together concerns about capacity and how to design policy answers effectively signifies a promising, and perhaps also a vital avenue of further academic enquiry, and especially so in times marked by unprecedented public crises.

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Kidjie Saguin for his support in preparation of earlier versions of this paper. Kerem gratefully acknowledges the organizational support of Sabanci University and GLODEM, Koc University, as part of the paper was written during his Part-time lectureship at Sabanci University.

Availability of data and material

Code availability, declarations.

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

1 We thank an anonymous referee for raising this essential point.

2 We are aware of two major caveats. Firstly, our database only covers journal articles written in English. In addition, our database excluded monographs and edited book chapters. Studies that are written in other languages and those published as monographs and edited book chapters are likely to offer additional insights to the findings in the article, which demands further research.

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Contributor Information

Ishani Mukherjee, Email: gs.ude.ums@minahsi .

M. Kerem Coban, Email: [email protected] .

Azad Singh Bali, Email: [email protected] .

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Policy Implementation

POLARIS Policy Implementation

Your policy has been enacted, and you are ready to implement it. If your policy hasn’t been enacted yet, visit the Policy Enactment page .

Stakeholder engagement and education wheel, policy implementation highlighted

What is policy implementation?

Enactment alone doesn’t ensure that a policy will be successful. Additional steps may be needed to implement the policy in a way that can increase the likelihood the policy will achieve its intended outcomes.

The implementing organization and stakeholders may:

  • Educate the people or organizations affected by the new policy
  • Change pre-existing administrative operations and systems (or create new ones)
  • Monitor and/or enforce the policy as needed

Why is policy implementation important?

Policies won’t work if the process stops at enactment.

Who can play a part in policy implementation?

There is a wide range of people and organizations that can be involved in policy implementation, depending on the level of enactment (from local to national) and the type of policy (from regulation to statute).

As you implement the policy, stakeholders can help:

Keep in mind that it can take some time to fully implement a policy

Identify and coordinate resources and support For example, one of your partners may coordinate or develop educational and communication activities.

Icon of a hand holding gears on top of silhouettes of people

Provide support for large-scale changes to existing processes For example, a partner might help set up a website with information and implementation guidance.

Icon of a clock on top of silhouettes of people

Plan for policy, programmatic, and fiscal sustainability For example, a partner might create a strategic plan that identifies where funding will come from once initial funds are exhausted.

While planning for implementation, how can you increase the likelihood of achieving the policy’s intended outcomes?

  • Keep the desired outcomes in mind. Before implementation starts, everyone needs to be clear about the goals of the policy.
  • Identify resources that can help you implement the policy. This can include necessary funding, staffing, and infrastructure.
  • Define who is involved and who does what during implementation. Plan who will be involved in implementation and what their roles and responsibilities will be. Specifically, you want to identify:
  • The individual or organization that will lead implementation of the policy
  • Roles and responsibilities of partners and stakeholders
  • Opportunities and processes for collaboration
  • Current policies to ensure they are not in conflict with the new policy

It helps to identify how, when, and by whom implementation will be assessed. Monitoring of implementation keeps everyone involved aware of any possible barriers—as well as any intended and unintended impacts of the work.

After implementation, resources and other supports from stakeholders may decrease. Policy sustainability benefits from planning for these changes from the start of the policy process. Planning for sustainability can involve programmatic, administrative, fiscal, and other key elements of the policy.

How do you know you have successfully planned for policy implementation?

  • People involved in implementation of the policy understand its goals
  • You identified the inputs and resources used to implement the policy
  • You’ve documented the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the implementation of the policy

Dating Matters Capacity Assessment and Planning Tool (DM-CAPT)

This tool can help you assess capacity for approaches to preventing teen dating violence—but its framework can also be applied to other public health problems. (Capacity refers to the information, skills, resources, abilities, and supports needed to develop, evaluate, and sustain a public health initiative.)

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  • 1l: Developing an Action Plan for the Policy Team’s Work

Navigating the Roadmap

Activity 1: Build a genuine, collaborative policy team.

Introduction

After developing a vision and mission for your policy team, the team should determine the specific goals and objectives necessary to achieve each target of change in your mission. To recap:

  • Your vision is a statement about the clear and elevating goal your team is striving to achieve—a statement of your preferred future.
  • Your mission is a statement that describes the work your team intends to undertake during a specific period of time to make progress toward achieving your vision.
  • Your goals represent the accomplishments that must be realized to achieve your mission.
  • Your objectives are the steps, or tasks, that must be completed to meet your goals.

While the team should develop an action plan from the outset and include it in the charter, the plan will undoubtedly change as the team makes progress and learns more. As needed, update the work plan to keep it current, to pace work, and to gauge progress.

To create an action plan that will outline the specific goals and objectives the team will undertake, the sequence and timing of activities, and the persons responsible for those tasks

Participants

All policy team members should be involved in the development of your action plan. (Individuals or groups of individuals within your policy team or outside of your policy team may be involved in achieving the objectives in your action plan.)

Instructions

The activities identified in this Starter Kit are intended to lay the groundwork for the implementation of the EBDM Framework. [1]

  • Working together, refer to the activities listed on Getting from Here to There: The Roadmap for Preparing to Implement the EBDM Framework. Discuss each activity and ensure that all team members understand its purpose.
  • Determine whether some of this work has been done before, in whole or in part. [2]
  • Determine whether the goals listed in the Roadmap are the right goals for your policy team to achieve its mission, whether the goals should be changed somewhat, or whether new goals should be added.
  • Agree upon the appropriate set of goals for your team’s work plan.
  • Once this list is complete, place each goal in an order to reflect the sequencing of how these goals should be tackled.
  • Next, consider each goal and identify the specific action steps (or objectives) that will be taken to achieve it. Determine the person(s) responsible for the task and a deadline for completion.
  • Designate a team member who will create a written action plan for the decisions made during the action planning session. Refer to the action plan template in the Appendix as a guide for developing a formal, written action plan.
  • It may not be possible to forecast very specific steps for activities that will be accomplished in later months; try to develop in more detail the more immediate tasks (i.e., 3–4 months) that need to be accomplished.
  • Teams should revisit their action plan regularly to make revisions and adjustments as needed.                                                                                         

Example: Ramsey County, Minnesota, Action Plan for the EBDM Planning Process (Abbreviated version of whole document)

Additional Resources/Readings

CEPP. (2005). Collaboration: A training curriculum to enhance the effectiveness of criminal justice teams. Retrieved from https://cepp.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Collaboration-A-Training-Curriculum-to-Enhance-the-Effectiveness-of-Criminal-Justice-Teams-2005.pdf.

———. (2006). Getting it right: collaborative problem solving for criminal justice. Retrieved from https://nicic.gov/getting-it-right-collaborative-problem-solving-crimina...

CSOM. (2007). Enhancing the management of adult and juvenile sex offenders: A handbook for policymakers and practitioners. Retrieved from https://cepp.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/6-CSOM-Handbook.pdf .

Appendix: Action Plan Template

GOAL #1                                    DATE TO BE COMPLETED                                     BY WHOM             WITH WHOM

  • Specific task                                                                                                                           
  • Specific task                                                                                                                           
  • Specific task                                                                                                                                                               
  • Specific task                                 

                                                                                                           

  • Etc.                                                                                                                              
  • Etc.                                    

[1] Please note that your policy team may or may not complete these activities in the same sequence as other sites.

[2] Work that has been completed before does not need to be redone unless it is dated, incomplete, or not fully encompassing of the EBDM initiative, or if all team members have not been a part of it. In these cases, adjustments may need to be made. Use the pre-existing work as a starting point, rather than starting from scratch.

PDF icon

Starter Kit

  • 1a: EBDM Checklist
  • 1b: Collaboration Survey
  • 1c: Creating a Vision
  • 1d: Conducting a Stakeholder Analysis
  • 1e: Establishing Team Leadership
  • 1f: Setting Ground Rules
  • 1g: Building a Collaborative Climate
  • 1h: Establishing a Decision Making Process
  • 1i: Developing a Mission for Your Policy Team
  • 1j: Creating a Charter for Your Policy Team
  • 1k: Establishing Clear Roles and Responsibilities
  • 1m: Managing the Policy Team: The Local Coordinator
  • 1n: Developing Meeting Goals and Agendas
  • 1o: Creating Useful Meeting Records
  • 2a: Readying Staff for Change
  • 3a: Developing a System Map
  • 3b: Conducting a Policy and Practice Analysis
  • 3c: Creating a Resource Inventory
  • 3d: Gathering Baseline Data
  • 3e: Prioritizing Your Team’s Targets for Change
  • 4a: Understanding Your Agency: Conducting an EBP Knowledge Survey
  • 4b: Equipping Stakeholders to Apply Research Evidence
  • 4c. Becoming a Better Consumer of Research
  • 5a: Building Logic Models
  • 6a: Measuring Your Performance
  • 6b: Developing a System wide Scorecard
  • 7a: Developing a Communications Strategy; Building Stakeholder and Community Engagement
  • 8a: Building a Plan for Implementation
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5 Keys to Successful Strategy Execution

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  • 17 Nov 2020

You’ve set organizational goals and formulated a strategic plan. Now, how do you ensure it gets done?

Strategy execution is the implementation of a strategic plan in an effort to reach business goals and objectives . It comprises the daily structures, systems, and operational goals that set your team up for success.

Access your free e-book today.

Why Is Strategy Execution Difficult?

There are several factors that make successful execution of your business strategy challenging.

According to the Harvard Business School Online course Strategy Execution , some of the most common factors include:

  • Poor communication of strategic objectives
  • Lack of employee buy-in
  • Ineffective risk management

All of these can cause the best strategic plans to fall flat in their execution. In fact, poor execution is more common than you may realize. According to research from Bridges Business Consultancy , 48 percent of organizations fail to reach at least half of their strategic targets, and just seven percent of business leaders believe their organizations are excellent at strategy implementation.

“If you’ve looked at the news lately, you’ve probably seen stories of businesses with great strategies that have failed,” says Harvard Business School Professor Robert Simons, who teaches the online course Strategy Execution . “In each case, we find a business strategy that was well formulated but poorly executed.”

How can you equip yourself and your team to implement the plans you’ve crafted? Here are five keys to successful strategy execution you can use at your organization.

Keys to Successful Strategy Execution

1. commit to a strategic plan.

Before diving into execution, it’s important to ensure all decision-makers and stakeholders agree on the strategic plan.

Research in the Harvard Business Review shows that 71 percent of employees in companies with weak execution believe strategic decisions are second-guessed, as opposed to 45 percent of employees from companies with strong execution.

Committing to a strategic plan before beginning implementation ensures all decision-makers and their teams are aligned on the same goals. This creates a shared understanding of the larger strategic plan throughout the organization.

Strategies aren’t stagnant—they should evolve with new challenges and opportunities. Communication is critical to ensuring you and your colleagues start on the same page in the planning process and stay aligned as time goes on.

2. Align Jobs to Strategy

One barrier many companies face in effective strategy execution is that employees’ roles aren’t designed with strategy in mind.

This can occur when employees are hired before a strategy is formulated, or when roles are established to align with a former company strategy.

In Strategy Execution , Simons posits that jobs are optimized for high performance when they line up with an organizational strategy. He created the Job Design Optimization Tool (JDOT) that individuals can use to assess whether their organization's jobs are designed for successful strategy execution.

The JDOT assesses a job’s design based on four factors, or “spans”: control, accountability, influence, and support.

“Each span can be adjusted so that it’s narrow or wide or somewhere in between,” Simons writes in the Harvard Business Review . “I think of the adjustments as being made on sliders, like those found on music amplifiers. If you get the settings right, you can design a job in which a talented individual can successfully execute your company’s strategy. But if you get the settings wrong, it will be difficult for any employee to be effective.”

3. Communicate Clearly to Empower Employees

When it comes to strategy execution, the power of clear communication can’t be overlooked. Given that a staggering 95 percent of employees don’t understand or are unaware of their company’s strategy, communication is a skill worth improving.

Strategy execution depends on each member of your organization's daily tasks and decisions, so it’s vital to ensure everyone understands not only the company's broader strategic goals, but how their individual responsibilities make achieving them possible.

Data outlined in the Harvard Business Review shows that 61 percent of staff at strong-execution companies believe field and line employees are given the information necessary to understand the bottom-line impact of their work and decisions. In weak-execution organizations, just 28 percent believe this to be true.

To boost your organization’s performance and empower your employees, train managers to communicate the impact of their team's daily work, address the organization in an all-staff meeting, and foster a culture that celebrates milestones on the way to reaching large strategic goals.

Which HBS Online Strategy Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

4. Measure and Monitor Performance

Strategy execution relies on continually assessing progress toward goals. To effectively measure your organization’s performance metrics, determine numeric key performance indicators (KPIs) during the strategic planning stage . A numeric goal serves as a clear measure of success for you and your team to regularly track and monitor performance and assess if any changes need to be made based on that progress.

For instance, your company’s strategic goal could be to increase its customer retention rate by 30 percent by 2026. By keeping a record of the change in customer retention rate on a weekly or monthly basis, you can observe data trends over time.

If records show that your customer retention rate is decreasing month over month, it could signal that your strategic plan requires pivoting because it’s not driving the change you desire. If, however, your data shows steady month-over-month growth, you can use that trend to reasonably predict whether you’ll reach your goal of a 30 percent increase by 2026.

5. Balance Innovation and Control

While innovation is an essential driving force for company growth, don’t let it derail the execution of your strategy.

To leverage innovation and maintain control over your current strategy implementation, develop a process to evaluate challenges, barriers, and opportunities that arise. Who makes decisions that may pivot your strategy’s focus? What pieces of the strategy are non-negotiable? Answering questions like these upfront can allow for clarity during execution.

Also, remember that a stagnant organization has no room for growth. Encourage employees to brainstorm, experiment, and take calculated risks with strategic initiatives in mind.

Related: 23 Resources for Mobilizing Innovation in Your Organization

Building the Skills to Successfully Execute Strategy

Setting strategic goals, formulating a plan, and executing a strategy each require a different set of skills and come with their own challenges. Keeping in mind that even the best formulated strategy can be poorly executed, consider bolstering your execution skills before setting strategic goals and putting a plan in place. Developing these skills can have a lasting impact on your organization's future performance.

Are you interested in designing systems and structures to meet your organization’s strategic goals? Explore our eight-week Strategy Execution course and other online strategy courses to hone your strategic planning and execution skills. To find the right HBS Online Strategy course for you, download the free flowchart .

This post was updated on November 9, 2023. It was originally published on November 17, 2020.

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Pustaka Hukum

Manusia diciptakan atas kehendak Tuhan. Mereka tumbuh berkembang menjadi satuan kelompok dengan norma masing-masing yang beragam. Semoga ilmu ini dapat bermanfaat bagi semua.

  • Antropologi
  • Hukum Acara Perdata
  • Hukum Administrasi Negara
  • Hukum Agraria
  • Hukum Dagang
  • Hukum Internasional
  • Hukum Islam
  • Hukum Perdata
  • Hukum Pidana
  • Ilmu Negara

Senin, 17 Februari 2014

Teori-teori hukum administrasi negara, 1. teori ekapraja (ekatantra)., 2. teori dwipraja (dwitantra)..

  • Legis Latio, yang meliputi “Law Creating Function”.
  • Legis Executio, yang meliputi:
  • Legislative power.
  • Judicial power.
  • Political Function (yang disebut Government) .
  • Administrative Function (dalam bahasa Jerman “Verwaltung“ sedangkan dalam bahasa Belanda disebut “Bestuur“) .
  • Policy making, yaitu penentu tugas dan haluan.
  • Task Executing, yaitu pelaksana tugas dan haluan negara.
  • Kekuasaan yang menentukan tugas (taakstelling) dari alat-alat pemerintah atau kekuasaan yang menentukan politik negara.
  • Kekuasaan yang menyelenggarakan tugas yang telah ditentukan atau merealisasikan politik negara yang telah ditentukan sebelumnya (verwezenlijkking van de taak).

3. Teori Tripraja (Trias Politica)

  • Kekuasaan legislatif, yaitu kekuasaan untuk membuat peraturan perundangan.
  • Kekuasaan eksekutif, yaitu kekuasaan untuk melaksanakan peraturan perundang-undangan, termasuk didalamnya juga kekuasaan pengawasan terhadap pelaksanaan peraturan perundangan, yaitu kekuasaan pengadilan (yudikatif).
  • Kekuasaan federatif, yaitu kekuasaan yang meliputi segala tindakan untuk menjaga keamanan negara dalam hubungan dengan negara lain seperti membuat aliansi dan sebagainya atau misalnya kekuasaan untuk mengadakan hubungan antara alat-alat negara baik intern maupun ekstern.
  • Kekuasaan legislatif, yaitu kekuasaan untuk membuat undang-undang , dijalankan oleh parlemen.
  • Kekuasaan eksekutif, yaitu meliputi penyelenggaraan undang-undang (terutama tindakan di bidang luar negeri).
  • Kekuasaan yudikatif, yaitu kekuasaan mengadili pelanggaran atas undang-undang.

4. Teori Catur Praja.

  • Contentenze Jurisdictie, yakni dalam hal  ini hakim semata-mata hanya menjalankan fungsi/kekusaan kehakiman ( rechterlijke functie ) saja.
  • Voluntaire Juridictie, yakni disini hakim tidak semata-mata hanya menjalankan fungsi/kekuasaan kehakiman tetapi juga melakukan tugas pengaturan, tugas pemerintahan dan tugas kepolisian. Dalam hal ini yang dimaksud dengan fungsi peradilan dalam pemerintahan adalah voluntaire juridictie.

5. Teori Panca Praja.

  • Fungsi Perundang-undangan (wetgeving).
  • Fungsi Pemerintahan (Bestuur).
  • Fungsi Kepolisian (Politie).
  • Fungsi Peradilan (Rechtspraak).
  • Fungsi Kewarganegaraan (Burgers).
  • Bestuurszorg (kekuasaan menyelenggarakan kesejahteraan umum).
  • Bestuur (kekuasaan pemerintahan dalam arti sempit).
  • Politie (Kekuasaan polisi).
  • Justitie (kekuasaan mengadili).
  • Reglaar (kekuasaan mengatur).

6. Teori Sad Praja.

  • Kekuasaan pemerintah.
  • Kekuasaan perundangan.
  • Kekuasaan pengadilan.
  • Kekuasaan keuangan.
  • Kekuasaan hubungan luar negeri.
  • Kekuasaan pertahanan dan keamanan umum.

5 komentar:

policy making dan task executing

Artikel mengenai hukum yang cukup lengkap dan sangat membantu, terima kasih atas kerjasananya.

elisa alot ya

policy making dan task executing

Membedakan teori dan pengertian atau defenisi itu bagman

Erisamdy Prayatna

  • Internasional

Author

Teori dalam Hukum Administrasi Negara

policy making dan task executing

  • Teori Dwi Praja;
  • Teori Tri Paja (Trias Politika);
  • Teori Catur Praja;
  • Teori Panca Praja; dan
  • Teori Sad Praja.
  • Hans Kalsen;
  • Hans Nawiasky;
  • A. M. Donner;
  • Frank J. Goodnow
  • Kekuasaan Legislatif yang meliputi  law creating function ; dan
  • Kekuasaan Eksekutif yang meliputi : 
  • Legislatif Power;
  • Judicial Power;
  • Political function  yang disebut  Government ; dan
  • Administratif function.
  • Normgebung , yaitu pembentuk norma-norma hukum; dan
  • Normvolischung  atau fungsi eksekutif yakni yang melaksanakan undang-undang, hal mana dalam pelaksanaannya kemudian dibagi lagi menjadi 2(dua) bagian, yaitu : 
  • Verwaltung  atau pemerintahan; dan
  • Rechtsplege  atau peradilan. 
  • Kekuasaan yang menentukan tugas dari alat-alat pemerintah atau kekuasaan atau yang menentukan politik dari pada negara; dan
  • Kekuasaan yang menyelenggarakan tugas yang telah ditentukan atau merealisasikan politik negara dalam mengejar tujuan dan tugas negara.
  • Policy making,  yakni menentukan tugas dan kekuasaan negara; dan
  • Task Executing,  yakni pelaksana tugas dan haluan negara.
  • John Locke; dan
  • Montesqueiu.
  • Kekuasaan Legislatif, yakni kekuasaan yang membuat peraturan/ atau undang-undang;
  • Kekuasaan Eksekutif, yakni kekuasaan untuk melaksanakan peraturan atau undang-undang; dan
  • Kekuasaan Federatif, yakni kekuasaan yang tidak termasuk kekuasaan legislatif dan kekuasaan eksekutif seperti hubungan luar negeri.
  • Kekuasaan Legislatif, yakni kekuasaan untuk membuat peraturan atau undang-undang;
  • Kekuasaan Eksekutif, yakni kekuasaan untuk menjalankan peraturan atau undang-undang; dan
  • Kekuasaan Yudikatif, yakni kekuasaan mengadili mempertahankan peraturan atau undang-undang.
  • Fungsi  Bestuur;
  • Fungsi   Politie;
  • Fungsi  Justitie;  dan
  • Fungsi  Regelaar.
  • Dr. J. R. Stellinga; dan
  • Fungsi  Wetgeving  (perundang - undangan);
  • Fungsi  Bestuur  (pemerintah);
  • Fungsi  Politie  (kepolisian);
  • Fungsi  Rechtspraak  (peradilan); dan
  • Fungsi  Burgers  (kewarganegaraan).
  • Fungsi  Bestuurszorg,  yaitu kekuasaan untuk menyelenggarakan kesejahteraan umum;
  • Fungsi  Bestuur , yaitu pemerintahan dalam arti sempit;
  • Fungsi  Politie , yaitu kekuasaan polisi;
  • Fungsi  Justitie , yaitu kekuasaan mengadili; dan
  • Fungsi  Regelaar , yaitu kekuasaan mengatur.
  • Fungsi Pemerintah;
  • Fungsi Perundang-undangan;
  • Fungsi Pengadilan;
  • Fungsi Keuangan;
  • Fungsi Hubungan Luar Negeri; dan
  • Fungsi Pertahanan Keamanan.

Erisamdy Prayatna

  • Dasar Berlakunya Hukum Adat
  • Proses Kriminalisasi, Dekriminalisasi, dan Depenalisasi
  • Teori-Teori dalam Kriminologi
  • Teori Penyebab Terjadinya Kejahatan
  • Persamaan dan Perbedaan Kriminologi dengan Hukum Pidana
  • Perbedaan Perjanjian dan Perikatan

IMAGES

  1. PHASES OF POLICY MAKING PROCESS / LADY LECTURER

    policy making dan task executing

  2. Intro to Policy-making process

    policy making dan task executing

  3. PPT

    policy making dan task executing

  4. Intro to Policy-making process

    policy making dan task executing

  5. PPT

    policy making dan task executing

  6. Introduction to policy_making_process

    policy making dan task executing

VIDEO

  1. Management of Decarbonisation of campus through measurements on Digital Platform -Dr Srinivas Shroff

  2. Stop making excuses and start executing #shorts

COMMENTS

  1. How is Policy Made?

    4 How is Policy Made? Where is policy made? This chapter provides an overview of the policymaking process…it's the "nutsy-boltsy" chapter, as one of my former public policy students would say. [1] Ideally, this chapter would be as simple as describing how a bill becomes a law, but the reality is much more complex because policymaking occurs in multiple venues.

  2. The Policymaking Process

    The Policymaking Process. Public policy refers to the actions taken by government — its decisions that are intended to solve problems and improve the quality of life for its citizens. At the federal level, public policies are enacted to regulate industry and business, to protect citizens at home and abroad, to aid state and city governments ...

  3. Framing and Policy Making

    June 3, 2018. Policymaking is traditionally depicted as a process that unfolds in neat, predictable stages. First the issue is placed on the agenda and the problem is defined. Next, the legislative branches of government examine alternative solutions and write the right ones into law. The executive agencies implement the solutions.

  4. The polity of implementation: Organizational and institutional

    1 INTRODUCTION. Politics, conceived as the solution to societal problems, relies on policy as the substantive content of the identified solution and polity as the structural dimension of decision power allocation. Given that public policy is the exertion of state power over target groups to solve societal problems, power—understood as an individual or collective authority's capacity to make ...

  5. Guidance note 2: Understanding the policy process

    Key points. The formation of public policy centres on decision-making by the political leadership in government, but decisions are shaped by a multitude of factors and different actors, including civil servants but also many others. A sequential analysis of the phases of the policy process can help researchers understand at what point the ...

  6. The role of agencies in policy-making

    The policy activities of government agencies (a more precise definition follows below) constitute an important aspect of their autonomy vis-à-vis their political principals and we claim that there is a need for a more systematic, theoretically guided analysis on the role of agencies in policy-making.

  7. Policy Process

    2.3 The Policy Process. The policy process normally is seen as having a series of sequential parts or stages. These are (a) problem emergence, (b) agenda setting, (c) consideration of policy options, (d) decision making, (e) implementation, and (f) evaluation. According to this 'textbook' view of policy, the first task facing environmental ...

  8. Policy failure and the policy-implementation gap: can policy support

    policy implementation. policy-implementation gap. policy failure. policy support programs. 1. Introduction. There is an increasing awareness that policies do not succeed or fail on their own merits; rather their progress is dependent upon the process of implementation. The normatively attractive top-down view of policy and its implementation ...

  9. Traceable Tasks and Complex Policies: When Politics Matter for Policy

    The highly traceable policy tasks in column A of Figure 1 make political engagement likely to arise from numerous corners. Highly traceable policy tasks create opportunities for mass publics to engage by voting to hold elected officials accountable for agency results, thus evoking electoral politics (Wilson, 1989). These electoral politics can ...

  10. Adaptive policies, policy analysis, and policy-making

    An adaptive policy-making process. The analysis and choice of an adaptive policy requires a new process for policy-making that explicitly takes into account the uncertainties and dynamics of the problem being addressed. 2 It is this adaptive policy-making process, and the elements of this process, to which we now turn.

  11. The challenge of policy coordination

    Making public policy is in essence a design task, with most discussions of policy design focusing on creating or improving a single program. While that focus enables the designer to focus on the specialized demands of the program area and to attempt to limit other considerations, it may also produce programs that are too narrow.

  12. Policy capacities and effective policy design: a review

    Effectiveness has been understood at three levels of analysis in the scholarly study of policy design. The first is at the systemic level indicating what entails effective formulation environments or spaces making them conducive to successful design. The second reflects more program level concerns, surrounding how policy tool portfolios or mixes can be effectively constructed to address ...

  13. Policy Execution: Developing and Implementing Paths

    Share Recommend to Library Abstract: The following sections are included: The Political Context of Policy Execution The Policy Execution Process The Discipline of Policy Execution The Dynamics of Policy Execution Identifying Issues for Policy Attention and Review Reacting to External Crisis or Policy Consequences

  14. Policy Implementation

    View Larger What is policy implementation? Enactment alone doesn't ensure that a policy will be successful. Additional steps may be needed to implement the policy in a way that can increase the likelihood the policy will achieve its intended outcomes. The implementing organization and stakeholders may:

  15. PDF BEST PRACTICES FOR EFFECTIVE POLICY MANAGEMENT

    Beyond that, however, strong policy management is just good business sense. The tumult of 2020 has demonstrated time and again that companies must be able to assess, improvise, and formalize policy and procedure—more quickly, and on more subjects. If compliance officers embrace best practices for policy management, that's possible.

  16. 1l: Developing an Action Plan for the Policy Team's Work

    Determine the person (s) responsible for the task and a deadline for completion. Designate a team member who will create a written action plan for the decisions made during the action planning session. Refer to the action plan template in the Appendix as a guide for developing a formal, written action plan.

  17. Policy Making

    Abstract. As policy making has increasingly been recognized to involve interest groups, analytical frameworks have been developed of state-interest group relations. Initially, there were limited and simple categories, such as issue networks, iron triangles, and policy communities. However, more complex policy network 'models' have been ...

  18. 5 Keys to Successful Strategy Execution

    1. Commit to a Strategic Plan Before diving into execution, it's important to ensure all decision-makers and stakeholders agree on the strategic plan.

  19. What Roles Do Congress and the Executive Branch Play in U.S. Foreign

    Congress has interpreted this clause to include the power to create, eliminate, and restructure agencies in the executive branch, such as the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. The Senate can approve the nominations of cabinet members, ambassadors, and senior military officials. Although the president nominates the officials in charge ...

  20. PDF National Policy Development Framework 2020

    in South Africa. It will codify policy-making practices and entrench evidence-based policy-making. Further it seeks to guide officials, on policy analysis, policy development, policy authorisation, policy implementation and policy reviews. In doing so, policy-making standards and guiding principles are introduced for the entire policy-making cycle.

  21. Pustaka Hukum: TEORI-TEORI HUKUM ADMINISTRASI NEGARA

    Policy making, yaitu penentu tugas dan haluan. Task Executing, yaitu pelaksana tugas dan haluan negara. Menurut A.M. Donner terdapat beberapa pembedaan kekuasaan pemerintahan jika kita dilihat dari segi sifat hakikat fungsi yang ada dalam suatu negara, yang dibagi menjadi dua golongan, yakni :

  22. Teori dalam Hukum Administrasi Negara

    Political function yang disebut Government; dan Administratif function. Hans Nawiasky Dalam hal ini Hans Nawiasky membagi seluruh kekuasaan negara ke dalam 2 (dua) bagian, yakni terdiri dari : Normgebung, yaitu pembentuk norma-norma hukum; dan

  23. Teori Tripraja Trias Politica

    Home Pendidikan Teori Tripraja Trias Politica 53 Seorang Sarjana dari Amerika Serikat yaitu Frank J. Goodnow membagi seluruh kekuasaan pemerintahan dalam dichotomy, yaitu; Policy making, yaitu penentu tugas dan haluan, dan Task Executing, yaitu pelaksana tugas dan haluan negara.