Public policy planning associated with the development of state strategy and carrying out of daily public policy is a key element in the political process structure. Implementation of public policy combined with the regulation of society’s resources is as a sort of a product of a certain cycle of the political process being its final phase, the resultant stage.
Thus, the current politician and a practicing analyst face many complex issues, many of which are associated with the elucidation of the integral algorithm of work in the preparation, adoption and implementation of solutions. The structure of the mechanism of modern public policy contains the following blocks: 1) formation of a legitimate entity and the institutional hierarchy of public policy, 2) development of strategic policy and making government decisions, 3) administrative and other means to implement management decisions, and 4) the block of state control and arbitration, ensuring self-correction of the political regime and the “feedback”ť from the objects of state administration (Guidelines on shaping effective health policy, 2005; Anderson, 2003). In this paper, we’ll focus on the stages of analysis and revision of public policy process cycle, as well as methodologies applied to them.
The cycle of political process on the stage of the analysis includes identification of the problem; finding information and forming ideas about the task; determining a set of alternatives and selection criteria; evaluation of the usefulness of the alternatives; and choosing the best alternative. After the solution gets implemented being based on the analysis stage, the policy making process is completed by the stage of evaluating the results of the policy, its revision, adjustment and correction (Lasswell, 1956; Guidelines on shaping effective health policy, 2005; Anderson, 2003; Dunn, 2004; Busse et al., 2006).
At the first stage of analysis, first of all, the question arises about the formation of the agenda. Political agenda is a set of urgent social problems reflecting the needs of society as a whole or the demands of individual interest groups that need to be solved in the process of government decision-making (Guidelines on shaping effective health policy, 2005; Dunn, 2004). Next, comes the long awaited moment of transformation of the social problems identified in the agendas into the projects of public solutions within which they are to be solved or minimized. The content of this kind of political activity is revealed within the functionality of the next phase of the analysis related to the preparation and selection of alternatives. Here, the problems should not only be properly identified and formulated, which sometimes is the half the overall success, but it is also necessary to find the ways of solving them, calculate and allocate the resources, design the means of achieving the goals and the sequence of individual events (Guidelines on shaping effective health policy, 2005; Dunn, 2004; Busse et al., 2006).
In modern political science, concepts, within which the process of government decision-making is interpreted, are often divided into two main types: descriptive and prescriptive (Anderson, 2003). Descriptive direction comes primarily from the principle of empirical study and descriptive analysis of the behavior of political decision makers (DM), as well as from the interactions of political actors in a particular situation. Descriptive approach can also be used to describe the activities of a single political leader associated with the motives and reasons for making a certain individual decision (Dunn, 2004). For example, analysis of the psychological factors of decision-making by the President of the United States in terms of stress, such as the Missile Crisis, when he takes on the personal initiative and responsibility for the consequences.
With regard to the specifics of prescriptive decision-making theories, we can mark their focus on the development of optimal rules and procedures, algorithms and formal models, according to which the whole process of government decision-making should be built. This concept is aimed at rationalizing the political decisions, as the standard algorithms developed in its framework are designed to improve the effectiveness of choice of goals and means of achieving them focused in a prescriptive formula of the optimal solution in a given political situation (Anderson, 2003; Dunn, 2004). At the same time the weakness of the prescriptive approach to the analysis and implementation of solutions based on rational choice theory is certain exaggeration of the role of “ideal types”ť of rational decision models not taking into account the subjects of management, their interests, the values and mindsets of decision-makers (DM), as well as the existing hierarchical relationships between them.
Decision-making methods at this stage of the political process depend on the specific tasks and traditions prevailing in governance structures. For a long time in history only one method of their solution prevailed – the method of precedent (Lasswell, 1956). The recognized authorities in the field of management believe that currently there are two main methods of decision making: rational-comprehensive and the method of successive limited comparisons (Branch method) (Anderson, 2003; Dunn, 2004). The first assumes the rational isolation of the problem and the choice of solutions most relevant to the goals. The branch method is based on the need for the so-called incremental amendments to usual management activities making it possible to implement partial goals.
Control over the implementation of the solution, the feedback with its results with further possible revision is the stage finishing the entire cycle of decision-making (Busse et al., 2006). Lack of control and feedback leads to the state decision either being distorted, or not implemented, or even bringing results opposite to original intentions. The very sense of control over the implementation of any government decision is in the constant comparison of practical activities and technological operations with the original model of the political decision, plans and programs, in search for better alternatives for revision tested in practice (Anderson, 2003).
Further, it is possible either to continue the promotion of the previous policy, or make appropriate changes in it by restating the problem and making appropriate adjustments to the content of the previous public decision. Typically, the assessment of the content and consequences of the taken public decision is carried out by expert evaluation methodic by formulating a specific set of criteria and identifying the extent of their conformity to reality (Anderson, 2003; Busse et al., 2006). Typically, the evaluation of the government decisions identifies such parameters as efficiency and effectiveness, appropriateness and justice, and a number of other indicators. The final stages represent the advance from the development of a reflective model of a compulsory solution to its practical implementation.