Public Policy

Public policy decisions and actions are undertaken by the federal government of the United States of America. In addition, public policies are derived from a variety of executive decisions, laws and precedents of law for enactment by the executive branch of the federal government. Public policy formation is essential towards provide solutions to public problems. The formation of public policies in undertaken through five distinct steps namely, the national agenda, formulation, adoption, implementation and evaluation. Policies are different from laws in that they amount to the implementation of regulations and laws.

Domestic policies in the United States take a rather soft and gradual approach. A majority of interest groups and lawmakers in the United States are usually opposed to radical changes and decision-making. This is termed as incrementalism by political scientists given that public polices are altered gradually rather than radical changes in such policies. Issues that attract concern from a significant part of the population are termed as national agendas. This consists of issues that the public terms as essential for the government to address[1].

Public trends in terms of concerns initiate the need for the government to address issues that may result in the formulation of public policies. The public through the media form the strongest force towards initiation of new policies towards development of solutions aimed at solving public problems. In addition, major events such as terror attacks, natural disasters and man made disasters often lead to the call for new policies that may govern the occurrence of such events.

Furthermore, interest groups and social movements may initiate public awareness campaigns towards informing the public on particular issues. A high number of people in such campaigns may result in such issues being incorporated in the national agenda. In addition, politicians may also take the initiative to address issues that they feel should be incorporated in the national agenda. For instance, the president is able to take such initiatives given that high level of media coverage and power vested in the presidency[2].

Formulation of public policies involves the strategies to be used by the government to resolve the issues highlighted in the national agenda. In addition, people may have varied ideas towards developing solutions to resolve issues in the national agenda. Thus, the Members of Congress, interest groups and executive branch officials may provide different solutions to problems, which in turn prompt public debates in the congress and the media. After extensive debates, the federal government usually identifies a viable and effective policy solution and makes appropriate laws for the adoption of the new policies[3].

In addition, implementation of the policy takes place after the adoption of the new policies. Agencies of the federal government are tasked with implementation of the new policies by determination of the avenues and strategies to be used in implementation of new policies. Bureaucracies in the federal government ensure that the new laws are promulgated by congress towards specific policies. Setting up the respective guidelines and rules that will enable the practice of new laws is the role of the Congress.

Evaluation of the new laws and respective policies is an essential process towards evaluation of the efficacy of the new laws. Feedback on the efficacy of the new policies may be provided by different people and quarters of the public. The media and bureaucrats assume an important position in determination of issues that should be part of the national agenda as well as the respective efficacy of adoption of the new policies. In addition, the public maintains an important role in providing the government and its respective agencies on the benefits and demerits of the adoption of new policies.


Doonan, Michael. American federalism in practice: the formulation and implementation of contemporary health policy. Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2013. 

Galston, Arthur W., and Emily G. Shurr. New dimensions in bioethics: science, ethics, and the formulation of public policy. Boston: Kluwer Academic, 2001.

Maguire, Lori. Domestic policy discourse in the US and the UK in the “new world order”. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2010.

[1] Michael Doonan, American federalism in practice: the formulation and implementation of contemporary health policy (Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2013), p.23. 

[2] Arthur Galston W., and Emily G. Shurr., New dimensions in bioethics: science, ethics, and the formulation of public policy (Boston: Kluwer Academic, 2001) p. 19.

[3] Lori Maguire, Domestic policy discourse in the US and the UK in the “new world order”, (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2010) p. 31.

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