STAGES OF POLICY FORMULATION - PUBLIC POLICY

The sequence of policy formulation is grouped into five stages. The first stage is the decision about how to decide. The concern is on the mechanisms, procedures, criteria and political actors involved in public policy process. This stage considers those legible to participate in policy formulation, either civil servants or ministers, as well as who should carry out the policies when formulated, either commissions or task forces.
The second stage is definition and forecasting, which allows policy makers to review, recast, and re-interpret a policy. This is necessary because those who formulate policies may view the problem very differently from those who raised the issue in the first place. Definition and
forecasting in policy formulation mainly look beyond adopting the demands of the concerned interest but consider the consequences and implications of such policy alternatives in areas of policy applications and policy targets. Forecasting and definition may lead to a total rejection of an adopted policy proposal especially when the consequences are of a great threat capable of jeopardizing the public interest.
 The third stage is setting objectives and priorities. Despite the impact of public opinion as molded by political parties, mass media and other interest groups in influencing goal setting, the policy makers may redefine objectives and priorities in accordance with government interest. The setting of policy objectives is always aimed at ensuring that other interests within the policy are considered and accommodated. When this is affected in policy formulation, the priorities of the policy initiators are always reframed. This is very common when policy proposals flow from the bottom to top.
 The fourth stage is the analysis and review of policy options. The activities of this stage lead to rational choice of policy option. Here, the authority exerts its influence by making authoritative decisions that see to policy adoption.
The fifth stage is the legislative action. It is aimed at according the formulated policy the needed authorization and support. Policy formulated at legitimizing stage moves policy proposal in the form of a draft bill to legislative bodies or councils for adoption, ratification and enactment. The legislative bodies are the final area of policy influence activity where final attempts are made by varying interest to shape the content of the policy. The adoption of a policy proposal by a legislative body is associated for its implementation. It is important to note that the legitimization stage of public policy proposal is very important because it enables it enables those interested in a particular policy to come and make their inputs before the legislative committees. Legislative committees usually organize public hearing in respect of various policy issues.
Generally speaking, policy formulation, unlike policy initiation, is the job of the insiders, such as government officials, key advisers, politicians and consulted groups.
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