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Policy Making Process
The policy making process in the United States is set up to enable the most input and discussion to be made for each decision that is to be made. Public policy refers to the actions that are taken by the government. Even though it may not seem that this is always the case, decisions that are made as a result of the policy making process are intended to improve the quality of life for all citizens within the United States as well as to solve problems. Public policies that are made at the federal level are intended to regulate industries and businesses, to help the state and the city governments and also to hopefully encourage social goals for further improvements.
When a policy is established and eventually carried out by members of the government it goes through several steps from the first step to the last. The first step in the policy making process is known as agenda building. Simply put, before a policy can be created, it must call the attention of members of the government. The best example of this is the new legislation regarding terrorism. The U.S. Patriot act did not occur until the horrible terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Agenda building means that high levels of attention are placed on a topic by the general population.
The next level of the policy making process is formulation and adoption. Policy formulation means coming up with a way to solve a problem. Because there are more than one branches of the government and there are interest groups for most branches there needs to be a specific, and agreed upon method, of solving a problem. It is important to mention that policy formulation does have a tangible outcome. That outcome being that a bill goes to Congress then continues with adoption. A policy is then adopted when Congress passes the legislation. When this happens, regulations become final.
The last step in the policy making process is implementation. This is when the policy is used and put into practice. For example, when a policy is put into place regarding recycling laws, it does not actually get implemented until the city authorities begin to enforce the policy. Implementation essentially lies in the hands of the individuals that the policy directly effects.
Within the policy making process it is very important to keep budgeting in the process. The most thought out plan can not, and ultimately will not, succeed without the proper budget. If the government passes a plan to the public, and the government is going to be the source of the funds to the states for how the plan will be enacted, the money has to come from somewhere. This is a major issue and one that needs to be kept in mind. A prime example is the No Child Left Behind Act. This act was basically put upon each individual state for their school system to find their own ways to not leave a child behind. The government was not going to provide funds to these states for the schools to use. In fact, the schools had to find their own way to make the money and to make the plan work. The end result was that each school system took money from other areas to use for the No Child Left Behind Act. This is an excellent example to demonstrate how budgeting is important for the policy making process.
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