An Overview of Public Policy and Its Goal in Providing Solutions to Government Problems

The usual respond when somebody ask for the definition of public policy is as define by Thomas Dye, “anything a government chooses to do or not to do”, which acting to the problems that need to be solve[ CITATION Tho72 l 1033 ]. Eventhough this definition that given by Thomas Dye was too oversimplified, this definition already captured the fundamental essences of public policy and its purpose[ CITATION Jef14 l 1033 ]. If we extend the scope of public policy, its denote the essences of public policy as the fundamental activities of the government. Public policy is mean to achieve public goals, which is purposely toward addressing the action to be taken to a perceive problems.

The government establish the frameworks for all the citizens to function, through the public policy-making process. This framework that establish by the government also play it role to give the societal goals and the best way to pursue it.

The words, ‘to do’ and ‘not to do’ represent the denotes the idea of the government actions, either they act to do something or decide not to do anything. To do or not to do depend on the government as they have the executive power on making the decision. The government, thus represent the authoritative allocation of value for a society. The rights of the government to making the decision for the mass can be trace back to the Leviathan (1651) by Thomas Hobbes.

The sovereignty of the ruler, which include their rights to rule are based on the ‘social contract’, the individuals agreed to surrender their unlimited right to the Leviathan (the sovereign ruler) to escape from the ‘state of nature’ (nasty, short and brutish). John Locke further elaborate, with few distinctions from Hobbes as Locke reject the notion of absolute sovereignty. In the Two Treatises of Government (1823), he argues that the individuals surrender their liberty to the sovereign, as far as the sovereign act to protect their natural rights, that is ‘life’, ‘liberty’ and ‘prosperity’.

As we (the citizens) agreed to surrender our unlimited rights to the sovereign ruler (the government), whatever that they decide will affecting our life. Literally, we breath, eat and drink policy. As example, the water management policy that decide by the government will determine the continuance of our water supply that we use daily. The policies on the environmental issues such as haze also affect our everyday life. The reason government can do so much is because of their role to protect our “life’, ‘liberty’ and “prosperity’ that was based on the social contract as define by Hobbes and Locke. The problem that arise, must be solving to protect these basic rights.

The ‘to do’and ‘not to do’ in Public Policy. Before deciding ‘to do’ or ‘not to do’ in making the public policy, they must be going through the decision-making process. This process of decision making is important as it will determine the best course of action to be taken to formulate public policy. The decision making process important as it helps to address the issues, such as things that concerning the public and the goals to achieve by the government when endorsing the public policy (Cochran & Malone, 2014).

The policy-making process will involve many parts of the political institution as these political institutions will influences the ‘to do’ or not to do’ in order to achieve the objective of public policy formulation. The interaction of these institution mostly based on the conflicting interest between the institution in achieving their own goals (Ferdous Arfina, 2018). During this process, many bargaining, negotiation can compromise will happen to reach a consensus on what to do or don’t do. The dependency and interaction between the political institution also consider in formulating the public policy. Public policy not only involve public body or officials as policy actors, the non-governmental organization also being active player in the policy-making process of formulating public policy (Ferdous Arfina, 2018)

The policy-making process in formulating public policy cannot be conceive as simplistic manner that only involve one part of the political institution, instead, decision making process in public policy formulation need the involvement of many parties, at all level. The ‘to do’and ‘not to do’respectively can bring positive connotation or negative connotation, which depends on how the decision achieved during the decision-making. To put into example, during election, the parties will put up their manifesto, that is their promises if they win the election. These manifestos contain all the things that they want to implement if they become the government. This manifesto can be considered as policies that they want to implement if they win the elections, as it contains what they want to do and do not want to do based on what they view as ‘solving the public problems’.

Of course, decision making process must be start with identifying the issues or problems that need to be solves. During the policy-making process, the parties involve will articulate the problems to identify the most concerning problems to be solves. The articulation of issues is important in order to put the priority on public policy formulation. The articulation of issues too influences by external demand (to create jobs, provide needs) and the internal demand (the demand that come from top, such as the executive or past studies). However, in putting the priority of public policy formulation, the availability of resources was to be consider too. The availability and the capability for the government to allocates the resources will determine whether the policy can be carry out or not. Resources such as time, money, personnel (the expertise and labour) and political energy are limited and constraint. This will affect the capability for the government ‘to do’ and ‘not to do’.

It is interesting how the definition of public policy greatly affecting the formulation and the way it being conceive. The implication that brought by the definition greatly influencing public policy, from the process itself and the actors that involve in formulating public policy. The definition that given by Thomas Dye not only simple, but inclusive as it contains the essences of public policy formulation, with the government’ as the institution that hold accountable to the policy making process and integrating the conflicted interest among political institution, and ‘to do’ and ‘not to do’as the actions taken greatly affecting public policy as whole.

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