Public Policy Issues and Politics
Introducing Policy Language • Issues • Defining the problem • When are issues public problems? • Alternatives • Value conflicts • Power Structures • Symbolism and symbolic politics
Theories and Approaches • Theories describe, explain and, in some cases, predict. • Grand Theories and middle-range theories. • Policy praxis
Examples from the reading • Rational Choice Theory • Incrementalism/Bounded rationality (root/branch) • Stages model • Subgovernment (policy monopoly) • Advocacy Coalition • Punctuated Equalibrium
Policy Change • The United States Constitutional System is conservative (favors the status quo). How does policy change occur in a system that makes it much easier to block change than foster change? • The attacks of September 11, 2001
What are policy processes? • The “Policy Cycle” or policy stages model are often explicitly or implicitly employed by political scientists in the study of public policy. • Issue identification • Agenda setting – how do issues reach public and policy agendas? • Alternative specification – designing and evaluating policy alternatives (policy proposals) • Enactment – adoption of policies by authoritative bodies or officials. • Policy implementation – putting the policy in place. • Policy evaluation – assessing impacts and suggesting changes. • See Birkland, Chapter 9
Pre-decisional stages • The “Policy Cycle” or policy stages model are often explicitly or implicitly employed by political scientists in the study of public policy. • Issue identification. • Agenda setting – how do issues reach public and policy agendas? • Alternative specification – designing and evaluating policy alternatives (policy proposals)
Key language -JK • Process Streams • Coupling • Open window • Policy Entrepreneur • Policy Communities
Other language that may be helpful in addressing this case • Technical Feasibility • Value acceptability • Best Practice(s) • Venue shopping • Expansion and containment of conflict – • E.E. Schattschneider
The policy cycle and real problems:“policy praxis” • Des Moines Town Meeting Addresses Methamphetamine Abuse Epidemic in Iowa
From issues to policies: the road is rarely straight • www.drugabuse.gov/NIDA_Notes/ NNVol13N6/Iowa.html
The Study and Practice of Public Policy (Birkland) • The approach can be “scientific” and “rigorous(3).” • “The study of policy is firmly grounded in the study of politics (3).” • The nature of evidence (12). • How important is evidence (18).
What is Public Policy? • Thomas Birkland’s discussion pp. 20-21. • Discussion of definitions
What is in the News? • Applying language to real issues.
Case Study Exercise • Welcome to the Waterville Community MeetingSara Weir, City Manager, Waterville, Pa. • As community members and policy analysts the city welcomes your suggestion for addressing the pressing problem of drug abuse and Waterville. • What are your recommendations to the city council?