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Public policy

How do social problems become policy problems? Discuss with reference

to any specific area of public policy.

Public policy is a proposed intended course of action of either a person group of people or
the government within a specific environment providing obstacles, chances or opportunities
within the proposed policy which it utilizes to overcome in a sustained effort to achieve a
specific goal or realize certain objective or purpose. (Dunn, 2008)
A public policy acts as a guide to present future decisions that have been selected in a view of
certain conditions from many other alternatives, the proposed decision or a number of proposed
decisions that have been designed to implement the intended course of actions i.e. a projected
designed program that consists of the given objectives and the proposed means of achieving
them. ( John, 2000)
A public policy is simply a decision that has been made by the government to guide any other
actions in the same or similar situation or circumstances. Government policies are mostly
referred to as public policies as their set of decisions and actions guide the whole society in
general. These public policies are initiated and developed by the provincial, municipal, federal or
even territorial levels of government.

Economics 2
Policy matters are normally divided into two main categories i.e. the policies that are already on
the public policy discussions or agendas and those that have not been formulated or even
discussed. These are the social problems before they actually become public policy issues. When
these policy issues have found their way into the public policy formal agenda, then they gain a
higher profile and the formal process is most likely to follow unlike when it’s not on the
proposed public policy agenda. Whenever there is a problem or an issue that has not been ratified
and it’s not on the general public domain, it’s the duty of all the stakeholders and also the general
community to educate others within themselves provides information and takes all the necessary
steps after educating most of the community, to have it listed on the agenda. For an issue to
qualify and be able to stand out in all the processes and eventually become a public policy then it
must have the following. One, it must have sufficient and logical scope i.e. it must be affecting a
good fraction of the people or the community, it must also have a high intensity i.e. the
magnitude of its impact must be high and it must have been an issue for a long period of time.
(Gerston, 1997) A number of problems may trigger the development of public policy whose
response can either be reactive, as in most cases or preactive or proactive.
Policy development becomes reactive when it literally reacts or responds to issues and other
factors that have emerged mostly with very little notice or warning from either external or even
internal environment. These may be by listening and solving problems or issues, allocating
resources i.e. either fiscal or natural resources, reactions to emergencies or major catastrophes or
emergencies among other reactionary measures. Policy development can also be preactive i.e. it
reacts or responds to those triggers that are already recognized because the operating
environment is usually scanned and potential issues and other factors are indentified before they
occur i.e. the issues are already predicted before they occur and mitigation and contingency

Economics 3
matters are already in place before they occur. This is done by making strategic decisions,
choices, risk management, planning and setting the right priorities. Formal policies are rarely
proactive when it comes to their developments. The nature of developing a policy is such that
most of the key and majority of the major decisions only reflect little changes to the existing
status quo. The challenges that are connected to or associated with the development of an
integrated policy needs a big and broader picture, a general system perspective that can be able
to identify and address all the root causes or other symptoms. These policies can be driven by
politicians, powerful stakeholders, lobby groups, community leaders, departments and many
other bureaucratic committees.
Public policies can be divided into two major categories. Vertical policy is mostly developed by
companies that have the authority and the means to implement their decisions. The horizontal
policy popularly known as the integrated policy is normally developed by two or even more
organizations with abilities to implement only portions of the integrated processes or policies.
The key factors that need to be considered when developing a public policy are, the public
interest i.e. is the public policy for the interest of the public or the society, is the process
inclusive and is it balanced i.e. between special interest and private interest. The public policy
must also be very effective in achieving its stated goals and objective. It also has to be efficient
and consistent while representing fairness and equity. It must also be politically and socially
acceptable. It must be based on a foundation of values that have been acknowledged and
discussed in a democratic process by the society.

Economics 4

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Economics 5
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