What Policy Process?
The problem is that new policies, and policy decisions, can arise in, and are handled in, a multitude of different ways. In non-governmental sectors, they can be driven by economic, social and political pressures. And in government, all around the world, Mark Turner and David Hulme were spot on when they said:
'What must be banished is any lingering idea that policy is some highly rational process in which expert technicians are firmly in control using highly tuned instruments to achieve easily predicted outcomes. Such an image is inappropriate for OECD countries let alone the developing world...'
The IfG's Catherine Haddon notes that 'Policy-making is not a linear process. It involves extremely complex interactions between influencers, decision-makes, and implementers of policy'.
But policy development in any organisation should incorporate the following activities.
First, there are a variety of inputs
- Options need to be identified.
- Interested and expert parties need to be consulted.
- Policy staff need to carry out research and gain relevant experience.
Then the information and options need analysis.
- Scientific and other expert advice needs to be understood.
- Statistics need to be handled with caution.
- Preferred policies need to be easy to implement.
Last, but not least, policies need good communication, both internally and externally.
This site's homepage lists several reports, checklists and sets of questions which contain much valuable and more detailed advice.
And civil servants may need to consider these issues, for which advice will be found by following these links. (The first two are to the Understanding the Civil Service website.)
- Navigating Whitehall and Gaining Collective Agreement
- Responding to Lobby Groups and Lobbyists, and
- The Transposition and Gold-Plating of European Directives.