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The Policy Process

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The Policy Process: Part 1

Not everyone understands how the government works, there are many different branches, policies, rules and regulations that have to be followed. Individuals are not always aware of what the inner workings of our government are, and this can often be cause for confusion and frustration. Turning thoughts into policies and allowing those thoughts to be implemented is one of the most difficult procedures our government has. Understanding the inner workings of how an idea turns into a policy, can return a little bit of faith into our system, due to the unknown difficulty that policy creating can entail.

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There are three important phases to creating a policy – the formulation, legislative and implementation stage; each has their role, but they all affect each other in the creation of a policy.

The formulation stage is when policy makers create plans of action to address issues that are being noted. Policies are chosen to move into the next stage of development if they meet two specific criteria.

According to Muhammad Umar in Policy Formulation and Implementation the policy must be a reasonable way of solving a specific issue, and second the policy idea must be feasible. Effective formulation involves analysis and identification of alternatives to solving issues. Pitching new policies in the formulation stage often involves campaigning; this means trying to build a majority vote by gaining the confidence of other policymakers. Often times the input of professional policy analysts are brought in to analyze every aspect of the policy including, the means, cost, implementation strategy and possible consequences; these opinions can sway votes. Once policymakers agree that proposed policies will solve problems efficiently and effectively, they are then authorized to go through to the political process: Legislation.

During the legislative process, thousands of bills are presented at each session; only a handful of these will actually be considered and pushed through to the president. Policies have to go through debates, several committees and have to sign off and then pass on to both chambers of Congress to be signed off on then presented to the president for a final signature of approval. During this process thousands of policies are looked at, few survive. Once a policy is passed to legislation, it has turned into a bill; this bill will now go through several steps to try to move on to the final stage. First, the bill goes through a review process, committees are broken up into subcommittees so that each policy can be looked at in detail; these subcommittees will select a handful to present to the entire committee.

During the review process, subcommittees will look at each proposed policy and investigate such things as the potential impact it will have on the federal budget, the impact on the nation, the improvements it will allow for, etc… During this process, there is also an opportunity for anyone to present testimony to support the bill, which can be done in person or in writing. After all testimony is heard and the bill is fully reviewed, it will be moved up for a full committee approval or it will be thrown away. One the subcommittees come together with the proposed policies they will together review, deliberate, and propose recommendations, they can also hold more hearings if necessary, then they will vote to send the bill to the House or Senate (Longley, nd). Once the bill has been proposed to the House or Senate, it is published to include the purpose, impact, and budget and how it will affect taxes, etc…

These published bills are put on a calendar for the House or Senate to review, debate and vote on, both Chambers will eventually see all the bills and have to sign off before the bill can be sent off to the President for a final signature to turn this proposed bill into a law. The President has three choices, do nothing for 10 days while congress is in session in which the bill will automatically become a law, they can veto the bill or finally he can do nothing for 10 days while congress is out of session in which case the bill dies.

If the President decides to sign off on the bill or allow for it to become effective by doing nothing, either way the bill becomes law and therefore the implementation process begins. Any successful law will have an implementation process behind it, this is why it is looked at so closely, to
see how the implementation of the new bill will affect the entire nation and if the benefits will outweigh the risks. Implementation can often be done by developing laws that will support the policy, allocate the spending of money that will go towards the new policy and through development of regulations and often times regulatory bodies that will oversee implementation (Abood, nd).

Many laws require a new agency or new responsibilities within an existing agency. They will also need the goals to be stated in a way that translates to the public and how resources will be allocated for the new laws to be effective. Once implementation has begun, another step starts and works hand in hand with implementation and that is evaluation and modification. Often times once policies are implemented, there are unforeseen impacts, this doesn’t mean that new laws are abandoned, they are simply amended and reworked to adapt to the challenges they are presented with.


Abood, S, PhD, RN. N.D. Influencing Health Care in the Legislative Arena. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/553404_4

Muhammad Auwal Umar (Ph.D.). Policy Formulation and Implementation. Retrieved from www.pengassan.org/pdf/POLICY%20FORMULATION%20ANDIMPLEMENTATION Longley, R. ND. US Government Info. The US Legislative Process: How Bills Become Laws. Retrieved from http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/legprocess.htm

Cite this The Policy Process

The Policy Process. (2016, May 07). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-policy-process/

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