Government is one of the most important influences in our lives. With or without our expressed consent, Government makes decisions about which societal problems to address, then identifies and formulates solutions to those problems. Government implements public policies by utilizing legislative mechanisms and instruments (e. g. making decisions about taxing, spending and budgeting) to fund, monitor, and evaluate policy effectiveness and efficiency.
Taken collectively, these decisions and non-decisions of Government constitute the ‘whole’ that we call public policymaking. Quite simply, public policy is what government does whether as planned action, unplanned action or planned inaction. By formulating and implementing public policy, Government determines what we do attend school, work or start a business, wage pre-emptive war or curtail citizenship rights and benefits. By enacting public policy, various levels of government influence and in some cases, determine what products we can buy, the prices we pay for them and the food we eat.
Problems of formulating public policies in banlgadesh: In the Bangladeshi political system, public policy formulation is a fractured, complicated, and multi-leveled process characterized by competition among groups seeking to influence future policy, disagreements among different levels of government as to how a policy initiative should be crafted, and debates and compromises between politicians seeking to satisfy many divergent and sometimes contradictory political objectives.
The result of the policy formation process is often a policy that is considerably different that the one envisioned by whoever first defined the problem as something needing government intervention. Contrary to the popular belief of public policy formulation as a clearly defined and straightforward process, government policy-making is often rife with fragmentation, lack of coordination, and inconsistencies. These features are inherent in the policy making process due to several important aspects of Bangladesh politics, which are explained below. Fragmentation of the policy making process can be attributed to several causes.
One of the most prominent is the concept that policy formulation is a battle between competing interest groups and affected parties, each with different agenda and goals they would like addressed by an upcoming policy. Different political parties may have opposing views on the proper direction a new policy to take, especially when legislators with differing party loyalties attempt to create a policy together. Fragmentation is also exacerbated by multiple bureaucratic agencies feuding over the jurisdiction and appropriation to be generated by a new policy and by the participation of multiple levels of government in the formulation process.
The presence of multiple levels of government contributing to the creation of a new policy affects the lack of coordination inherent in the policy formulation process, as well. It is very difficult to coordinate the activities of federal, state and local governments with any meaningful success. Coordination among the branches and levels of government is also hindered by ad hoc policies generated to immediately address problems and crises; without prior planning and negotiation, coordination among different agencies is difficult at best.
Coordination between different agencies can suffer due to an agency’s motivation to protect its jurisdiction and program areas. An agency may choose not to align its activities too closely with that of another branch of government to reduce the risk of losing program responsibilities. Finally, coordination is hindered by governmental entities whose activities do not follow official policy directives or support publicly stated goals, an artifact of the sheer number and size of governmental bodies in the political system.
This failure of governmental entities to follow official directives or support publicly stated goals is an important cause of inconsistency in the policy making process. The goal of a future policy can be thoroughly clouded by different government agencies pursuing incompatible or contradictory agendas. Inconsistency can be created in policy through the competing demands of diverse interest groups attempting to influence policy formulation. Politicians must reconcile these often vague and conflicting emands, leading to a compromise that reduces the policy’s effectiveness towards reaching its intended goal. The ad hoc nature of some policy formulation, particularly when occurring with a lack of forethought and planning, can also create inconsistency in policy formulation; since this type of policy is generated to answer a crisis or some other sort of immediate need, there is usually not enough time or concern to make sure the new policy matches up with other legislation in that program area.
Inconsistency in policy formulation is also found in a comparison between policy directives of the legislature and top government executives versus the actual implementation of said policy. There are often discrepancies found here, and it is perhaps best to view the pronouncements of legislators and top executives as expressions of policy intent rather than a reflection of policy-making reality. Inconsistencies are also present when observing symbolic governmental policy-making. In this instance, the government expresses a goal or ideal through enacted policy, but no action is taken to implement the policy.
Finally, policy initiatives that are offensive to the sensibilities of the public are subject to challenge, which may alter the final outcome of the policy from its original intent, the implementation of the policy, or the selection of the policy’s targeted recipients, all of which brings additional inconsistency to the process. Finally, These characteristics of the Bangladeshis public policy formulation process are deeply ingrained in our political system. It cannot be completely removed without altering several important aspects of our governmental structure, most notably the separation of powers provided by the Constitution.
However, I believe progress can be made to reduce these effects through enhancing portions of the policy formulation process that considers both short term, immediate effects of a policy, its long term effects on the policy problem, and any unintended consequences that may occur through implementation. This type of approach is incorporated into the mixed scanning model of the policy making process, where a long-view, decisive mode of decision making is coupled with the ability to exercise caution and preserve the status quo.
Mixed scanning enables policy formulators to make fundamental changes in the scheme of government when needed, a prospect that is not supported by the traditional, incremental model of the policy process. Also, there exists some need to overarching guidance during policy formulation to counteract the effects of fragmentation, lack of coordination, and inconsistency. Mechanisms like inter-agency task forces, Office of Management and Budget reviews, and government agency reorganization can provide a level of coherence to policy making, although some of the problems inherent in a decentralized federal system of government will endure.