In general, public policies are the preferences politicians and other persons with authority make concerning to the governance of society. The Public Service of Great Britain is a key national institution, part of the essential framework of British parliamentary governance. Within Local Government the Public Service ethics is driven from all levels of staff and influences the way people work. It is apparent that the Ethos of Public Sector has a huge effect in the culture of local government, the two are inextricably linked.
Although due to the size of Local government effects may be slow but a change in ethos will have a gradual but definite effect on the culture. Consequently, it is obvious the role of Ethics in Public Policy making is in fact a central one. ? Introduction ? Public Policy ? The Public Service in Great Britain ? Public Sector Ethos ? Conclusion ? Bibliography Introduction The subject matter of Public Policy making is, in itself, problematic. There are as many definitions, approaches, concepts as there are unanswered questions. This essay journeys through an overview of the variety of aspects in the field.
It proceeds to examine the core matter of the specific tenets that underpin policy making. This then lends itself to a considering of some problems in area of public service. The examination of ethical issues concerned with public policy, leads on to a contemporaneous view of the original concepts, as modern advocates sought to expand on old ideas. The paper concludes by asserting that the role of Ethics in Public Policy making is in fact a central one. It contends that an ethical view is actually essential in understanding the process of policy formation. Public Policy
For the most part, concepts that seek to explain variations in causality of public policy come at it from one of five main perspectives. To be more precise, (John 1998, p. 15) identifies them as Rational Choice, Ideas, Socio-economic, Group Networks and of course, Institutionalism. These are conceptual planes upon which the world of public policy is said to exist. The notion of maximisation of individual utility by actors within the system through negotiation, is attributed to Rational Choice theorists, as an explanation. On the other hand, Ideas-centred approaches contend that changes in policy are primarily ideas driven.
Whilst the predominance of macro-level, socio-economic factors in determining policy outputs, as well as outcomes, is also said to be all important. Not forgetting to mention that the interrelationships and links between various groups is said to influence greatly what is emitted out of ‘Easton’s Black box. Most modern democratic states have instruments; organs of the state with which the art of governance is practiced. Invariably, these are the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature. Many sub bureaucracies usually flow from the three principals afore mentioned.
Government departments, political organisations, parliaments and suchlike. Collectively, these are defined as ‘institutions’ in the old traditionalist sense. These institutions are formal spheres within which policy making occurs. (John 1998, p. 20-34) In general, public policies are the preferences politicians and other persons with authority make concerning to the governance of society. Government, as public representatives, are expected to deal with numerous policies and introduced to try to eliminate some of the societal problems. Very rarely do these policies succeed.
In an ideal world it might well solve the social problems in an once and for all act and thus the policy end and the problem be forgot about, but this is far from reality. Governments often fail to meet the objectives set out by their policies. Mistakes and problems throughout the policy process mean that often the policy has to be scraped for a new approach, or at best be modified to meet with new demands and problems. Thus, the process can be seemed as a policy cycle. Let us examine the various stages of the process to see how and why government policy goes wrong.
Public policies are an attempt to modify the resources of the public. Some take resources away, as with taxation, others enhance resources, like through the welfare state or public transport. Many policies in the past have been an attempt to alter the balance of resources to help the less well off. This was the idea behind the welfare state. Most have fallen short of their original objective, like in reducing inequalities or solving problems, as in health care. The National Health Service is a good example of health care policies.
It was designed to eradicate inequalities in health care between the various social classes. In the past forty years it has not achieved this and health care policies have continued to be changed or modified in an attempt to achieve its objectives. So what does go wrong? Is it really that difficult that public policy fails, or falls short virtually every single time? It should be noted that public policy is a dynamic process. There are five clear stages, most of which carry their own problems. We must examine the initiation, formulation, implementation, evaluation and finally change stage, to see where problems arise.
The initiation stage is concerned with identifying the problem to be solved. This will mean prioritising problems into some kind of order of importance. It is important to identify the problem early on, as the longer it is left, the fewer options might be open at the formulation stage, due to time constraints, or greater costs. There is little evidence in the initiation stage to prove that the policy process is a cycle, as it is difficult at this stage to make a mistake that would distort the performance of an existing policy. (John 1998) The second stage is the formulation stage.
This is where the policy makers decide how they are going to attempt to solve the problem identified in stage one. Obviously the policy maker might get it wrong at this stage, by choosing the wrong approach. All policies have their critics, as different people, parties and organisations have their own different theories on how to solve a problem. Over the past fifty years this can best be illustrated by examining economic policy. The two main strands of economic theory have become the monetarist approach, as adopted by Thatcher and Reagan, And the Keynesian approach, adapted from the theories of John M Keynes.
Both attempt to solve the same economic problems, but in different ways. Unfortunately both have successes and failures and can cause their own problems to the policy process. (Starkie, 1984) Policy success does require that is formulated upon a valid theory of cause and effect. Often it is based on inadequate understanding of the problem, which can lead to reasoning of its effects, which are very different from the eventual actuality. If policy does fail it might be this underlying theory that is at fault.
In the formulation stage the policy maker must face other problems that will restrict his power on the choices open to him, like limitations of resources, or maintaining adequate support. Governments may therefore chose not to be clear on policy objectives, but this in itself is a limitation, “as a result governments create and become limited by unclear policies. ” (Hogwood & Gunn, 1990, p. 211) The third stage, that of implementation, can also contribute to policy failure. This stage is obviously concerned with implementing the policy, putting the ideas of stage two into action.
It may not seem clear how this stage can contribute to the problems as it is only carrying out what has already been decided, but this is not the case. Political analysts started to look at this stage more carefully after many polices introduced by liberal governments in the 1960s, “had in practice brought about relatively little by the way of fundamental or lasting change. ” (Burch & Wood, 1983, p. 56) This was illustrated clearly by the failure of Labour’s polices of reform. As we have seen we cannot be certain of the results policies will bring, or of the efficiency and success of implementing them.
Therefore there is a need for evaluation in the policy process. Thus the fourth stage is the evaluation stage. This is required as our understanding of social issues and the effect of government intervention is imperfect. It must be decided whether the policy the objectives it was designed for. Even when a policy has enjoyed some level of success it is unlikely that it will be a once and for all act, as maintaining this level of improvement, or raising objectives, is more likely to lead to a continuation or modification of the existing policy.
Changes in policy may be needed to provide alterations in the scale of existing provisions. The government could be increasing its commitment to an existing programme. On the other hand, it could be reducing its commitment. Even when policy objectives have been met, new objectives can be found. The public policy process shows that policies are dynamic entities. It may appear easy to us to spot social problems and even put forward solutions we think would work, but as this study has shown, government faces severe problems in making public policy effective.
A number of problems have been high lighted throughout the process. These included finding the problem before time became an added constraint, the extent of the division of resources the difficulties in implementing policies, and the impact it has, both direct and indirect, upon society. (John 1998) It is hardly surprising the ideal type is far from reality. There is clearly a policy process that goes through at least five clear stages and because of mistakes returns to the beginning to form a policy cycle.