The formation and implementation of the public policy usually have four stages or, as this process is sometimes called, a political cycle consisting of several consecutive actions. The first stage is to identify public issues and policy goals, called policy initiation. In the second stage, the development and legitimization of state policy are established, that is the formation of policy. In the third stage, the implementation and monitoring of state policy take place. In the last, fourth stage, the assessment and regulation of public policy are carried out.
If considering this process from the point of view of the relationship between social problems and the state, then at the first stage the state should identify these problems. In the second stage, it is necessary to develop a strategy and a plan for their solution, as well as to legislate and legitimize the policy. In the third stage, measures to solve these problems are implemented, and at the final stage the results are evaluated and their future actions outlined.
In the first stage, the definition and formulation of social problems take place. This means the objective existence of a situation that is not favorable to society or State authorities. Then there is an awareness and identification of the problem, and its transformation into a public one if it affects a significant number of people. They can perhaps organize themselves to solve it, acting through political parties or interest groups. Awareness of the importance of the problem and the need for its solution on the part of state authorities is of primary importance for all subsequent stages. One of two approaches is possible here. When using a preventive approach, politicians try to plan and implement measures in advance based on the analysis and forecasting of the development of the situation. When using a reactive approach, they actively begin to act after the problem becomes serious for society.
The content and results of the stages of formation and implementation of public policy are the next steps in public policy making. The result of the second stage is the release of an official document on the state policy or program. The third stage includes the practical actions of state authorities. The final stage of the outcome is to evaluate the results and decide on the future of a public policy or program.
I disagree that the policy-making stages tend to follow a set routine with little regard for set precedents. In my opinion, in real life, this general scheme may have a slightly different look. Often stages and especially sub-stages may be missing. They can sometimes be given more, sometimes less importance compared to others, they can change, decrease or increase in time, etc. They may also differ in the degree of activity of the participants involved in the process (Hoefer, 2021). There are often no criteria for completing each of these stages, and therefore it can be difficult to separate them.
It is important to note that not only public authorities and management take part in the development and implementation of public policy. It also involves private and public structures and organizations, which significantly complicates the process of policy development and implementation. This is because these structures seek to defend their group interests and sometimes it is difficult to find a reasonable compromise and come to an agreement. Based on a comprehensive analysis of the problems, the main stages necessary to solve a specific problem are determined; most often, they deviate from the set routine about set precedents.
Hoefer, R. (2021). The surprising usefulness of the policy stages framework. Journal of Policy Practice and Research, 2(4), 141-145.