A policy is a principle or rule that guides decision-makers towards achieving a social good, which applies to the public and private sectors and religious and civil society organisations. A policy differs from a rule or law…
While a law compels, permits or prohibits certain social behaviour, a policy guides actions that lead to desired outcomes.
Policy formulation is an attempt to assess as many areas of potential policy impact as possible to lessen chances that a given policy will have unexpected or unintended consequences. Because of the nature of some complex adaptive systems it may not be possible to assess all possible impacts of a given policy.
Policies are typically promulgated through official documents. Applicability and scope is used to make the policy focus on only desired targets and avoid unintended consequences where possible.
The concept and practice of policy formulation, implementation and analysis is inextricably linked to any nation’s development. It is the nature and kind of policies developed and how they are implemented that determine the level of development in a particular nation.
Nations in the world that have made considerable strides in development are guided by diligent policy initiatives as well as the political will to implement them.
Considering this importance, Tanzania Global Learning Agency (TaGLA) and Kenya Institute of Administration have organised a videoconference on policy formulation, analysis and implementation on July 2-6.
The aim is to build capacities of senior government officials to acquire skills, aptitudes and competencies in public policy making processes.
We are aware that, Tanzania is known for having good policies and laws and there is no doubt that some countries have learned from Tanzania how to formulate their policies and laws. The only problem we have is the implementation of these policies and laws.
The workshop’s modules include the concept of policy, steps in policy formulation, models of policy formulation and implementation and case studies in policy formulation in Africa.
Others are inter-sector policy formulation and implementation, policy implementation process, models in policy analysis, policy monitoring and evaluation. Participants will be have short interactive presentations, case studies, exercises and discussions.
In so far as the political system affects policy-making, Michael Carley in his book “Rational Techniques in Policy Analysis, Heineman Educational Books, London, 1983” describes the relation between the two elements as follows: "Policy-making about politics, that is deciding the content of policy, the promotion of values, and choosing
among alternatives in an attempt to solve problems and improve human life."
Some policies may contain additional sections like background indicating any reasons, history and intent that lead to the creation of the policy, which may be listed as motivating factors.
This information is often quite valuable when policies must be evaluated or used in ambiguous situations, just as the intent of a law can be useful to a court when deciding a case that involves that law.
The policy is intended to affect the real world by guiding the decisions that are made. Policies may be classified in many different ways. Distributive policies extend goods and services to members of an organisation, as well as distributing the costs of goods and services among members of the organisation.
Examples include government policies that impact spending for welfare, public education, highways and public safety or a professional organisation's benefits plan.
Regulatory policies or mandates limit the discretion of individuals and agencies or compel certain types of behaviour. These policies are generally thought to be best applied when good behaviour can be easily defined and bad behaviour can be easily regulated and punished through fines or sanctions.
Constituent policies create executive power entities or deal with laws. Social policies are what happens on the ground when they are implemented, as well as what happens at the decision making or legislative stage.
A company or organisation's policy on a particular topic, for example, the equal opportunity policy of a company shows that the company aims at treating its entire staff equally.
On stages of policy formulation and implementation, A.R.Mapunda has this to say: “Once a draft policy is formulated by a consultant and approved by a steering committee, a national workshop is conducted to discuss the document and stakeholders’ recommendations are collected.” He continues that, the draft policy is further improved using recommendations from the national workshop. He says the draft policy is submitted to the inter-ministerial technical committee (IMTC) that comprises all permanent secretaries of the government ministries for approval.
“Once approved by IMTC, the responsible minister presents the draft policy to the cabinet for approval. The, cabinet once satisfied with the content, approves the draft policy ready for dissemination and implementation,” he notes.
So, learning how to go about policy formulation, analysis and implementation is extremely important and this videoconference workshop offers a rare opportunity for interested people to utilise it and learn from others what needs to be done to have a workable policy that will facilitate social progress.