Policy analysis plays an important role for developing and implementing every initiative of the government. Its strategies can be more successful if they are based on the findings of social scientists, psychologists, or medical researchers. Overall, policy analysis is supposed to show what kind of actions will help to achieve a particular goal or solve a certain problem (Fox, Bayat, & Ferreira, 2007, p. 96).
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Various stages of this analysis are essential for the development of a public policy. In particular, this process involves the following steps or stages: 1) identification of a specific problem and data collection; 2) the evaluation of different options, especially their social, economic, or environmental impacts; 3) choosing the alternative that will yield the best results at a minimal cost (Fox, Bayat, & Ferreira, 2007, p. 96).
Provided that the mistake is made at one of these stages, the policies of the government will be more likely to fail. Policy analysis is also important during the implementation of any public policy. This set of methods can help the government determine whether their initiatives bring actually improvements. Policy analysis can assist public administrators in identifying the drawbacks of their initiatives, especially those cases when these initiatives can backfire.
Yet, this analysis can be accurate if it is based on evidence-based findings. For instance, healthcare policies can be more effective when they take into account the most recent statistical data about diseases or mortality (Lavis et al, 2004, p. 1616). This is why policy analysis is vital for public administrators. These methods can help the government take informed decisions that rely on high quality data, rather than rules of thumb.
One of the issues that policy-makers should consider is the social impact of polices. Every initiative implemented by the government can affect a variety of people in a very unpredictable way. The first task is to determine how many people can be influenced by the policy and in what way. For instance, policy-makers may need to estimate how many people will benefit from increased investment into community hospitals.
Public administrators will have to focus on the demographic characteristics of these people such as age, sex or income level. Secondly, they will need to make sure that these policies will not adversely affect any social groups.
Scholars point out that it is important to understand the so-called “transmission channels” through which a policy can impact society (Vanclay & Esteves 2012, p. 313). For instance, the removal of trade barriers with a certain country can effect local employments, or the prices and accessibility of goods (Vanclay & Esteves 2012, p. 313).
The goal of the government is to identify these channels. This task can be very difficult because social impacts are not easy to estimate. In most cases, they depend on a particular situation. Public administrators should take into account that social impacts of policies can be unpredictable.
Their plans should be based on closed analysis of previous policies and their impacts. In this way, they can safeguard themselves against various pitfalls, especially threats to people’s wellbeing. This is the main precaution that they will have to take. Overall, these examples show that policies of the government can be successful when public administrators understand the impact of their initiatives on various stakeholders.
The necessity to implement policies can limit the power of the government in different ways. First of all, the government requires financial resources in order to influence the life of the society. However, when this institution has to invest capital into several policies, its power begins to decrease. Secondly, one has to speak about human resources.
The power of the government is dependent on the availability of skilled. When the government has to implement policies, public administrators will have to dedicate part of their efforts to this initiative. In some cases, the effort of these employees is insufficient. This is one of the reasons why public administrators have to attract non-governmental organizations. As a rule, the support of these organizations is essential for the government.
Finally, any public policy requires a certain amount of time in order to perform its duties. Very often policies can last for years, and the government will have to monitor their implementation. Usually, these activities are very time-consuming. So, these limitations can be explained by such things as financial resources, personnel, and time. This is one of the ways in which policies can affect the power of the government.
Additionally, policies themselves can be aimed at restricting the power of the state. For instance, this institution can be made more accountable for its actions, expenses, plans, or risk management strategies. Policies can make government less bureaucratic and more oriented toward the needs of people.
Governmental officials will have to legitimize the use of power and identify the benefits that they bring to the community. This is perhaps the most important limitation that policies have. On the whole, they play a positive role, because they make the state more responsible.
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Fox, W., Bayat, S. & Ferreira, N. (2007). A Guide to Managing Public Policy. New York: Juta and Company Ltd.
Lavis, J., Posada, F., Haines, A., & Osei, E. (2004). Use of research to inform public policymaking. The Lancet , 364 (1), 1615-1621.
Vanclay, F. & Esteves, A. (2012). New Directions in Social Impact Assessment: Conceptual and Methodological Advances. New York: Edward Elgar Publishing.