TBD Short Paper: Policy Implementation

Critical Review

The Implementation as Policy Politics by Brodkin (1990) explains how the research on the implementation has contributed to a key reexamination of the procedure of creating policies. Brodkin (1990) argues that people should be more careful and avoid the error of assuming that the main element in the process of policy making is the implementation. While thinking so, they often believe that a certain policy will be effective as long as its implementation has been addressed (Brodkin, 1990). She then tries to demonstrate the relation between policy implementation and other parts of the policy making cycle. In her opinion, the implementation may be easily understood by studying social politics. The implementation is neither the beginning nor the end of the policy making process (Brodkin, 1990).

Due to the dynamic and diverse nature of humankind, the process of policy making and its implementation should in no way be pegged on the particular legislative bodies and persons in charge of them. It is not enough to think that since such bodies make policies, they should be in charge of the implementation. Realities differ in many ways. For instance, decentralized and discretionary avenues can work well as they provide a wider scope of analysis and potential policy changes (Heath & Palenchar, 2008).

The Child Welfare Practice in Organizational and Institutional Context by Smith and Donovan (2003) focuses on the misconception of many people that policy-making bodies should be in charge of virtually every aspect of the policies’ implementation. This, however, should not be the case. The implementation should be left to the people at the practical level. These persons understand the practical aspects of the policies passed by the legislative bodies. In this article, the authors use frontline child welfare caseworkers to demonstrate their position that the implementation should be more of a street-level bureaucratic system. They require practical time frames for the best execution of their duties (Smith & Donovan, 2003).

This study is well-founded because it is based on practical principles. These are, in fact, the main issues that the article presents. It is crucial that the article stresses the negative impacts of the organizational pressure, including time constraints and conformity pressure from powerful organizations and spheres (Hill & Hupe, 2008). From this understanding, it becomes obvious that people who execute the actual implementation actions can better manage the implementation process (Hyder et al., 2010).

In Street-level Bureaucrats, Administrative Power and the Manipulation of Federal Social Security Disability Programs by Keiser (2001), there is a need for state officials to implement federal policies. It should be the duty of the federal official to influence those at the state level to implement effectively the policies. In doing so, state officials should be incentivized as the interest of the state is paramount to their actions. As a result, it will benefit both the states and federal government (Keiser, 2001).

This article is based on real life happenings. It is normal for some state and even federal officials to act in ways that jeopardize the interests of the citizenry. The article explains the need for determining the interests of the state before the implementation of policies (Heath & Palenchar, 2008), which is crucial for any functional system (Meyers & Vorsanger, 2007).

In chapter 14 of his book, Street-Level Bureaucracy, Lipsky (2010) considers the people at the ground, street-level. They include social workers, judges, and other government employees. These persons are responsible for the bottom-up standpoint in policy making. They are, however, bound by limitations in the form of structure and prejudice and are officially unsanctioned, meaning that they do not enjoy full privileges but are among the strongest forces in policy making (Lipsky, 2010).

Practice Relevance Issues

The concepts of policy making and its implementation have a great impact on the day-to-day practices in the world, ranging from institution and persons involved to other parties who may be affected by the decisions or policies of these institutions or persons. The concept of the implementation of policies is often considered from quite a restrictive point of view. Many persons and institutions believe that the process of implementing policies should be done by people who have already come up with particular policies. The proponents of this notion believe that the policymakers can better understand how the policies that they develop impact the society (Hyder et al., 2010). They should, therefore, understand how these policies ought to be implemented. In some sense, it would be more effective for any institution or government because there would be two roles performed by the same person or body. In this way, the government or institution would save money that it can use to fund or develop other projects (Meyers & Vorsanger, 2007).

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However, the above conception presents various challenges. When one thinks about the bodies or people who make policies and, at the same time, act as the agents of the implementation process, two main issues occur, namely the lack of understanding of the actual situation and limited resources. These two issues are critical to the success of any policy and its implementation. The lack of understanding of the real situation on the ground may be associated with the differences in the specialization of various people within a particular setting (Bauer, Cranor, Reeder, Reiter, & Vaniea, 2009). For instance, a person may be appointed as a Congressman to enact laws that may affect the education system in a given state. However, they may have no experience or knowledge of the way schools are run. They may not even know the potential effects of the laws that they pass. This, however, may be properly understood by such persons as school administrators and teachers.

The lack of resources is also an issue of concern in the practical sphere of the implementation of policies because the main source of the policy itself is resources. Every policy is founded on the availability of resources that would be required to ensure its making and implementation (Bauer et al., 2009). These resources may include money, facilities, and even labor. The lack of these resources may devastate any given policy, depending on the kind of policy made or implemented. Even so, there are other elements that affect the availability or use of resources in a particular setting, including issues such as budgetary limitations, social and political motives and conditions, and corruption (Lipsky, 2010). In most jurisdictions, the most common cause of the lack of resources or hindrance to the use of resources is corruption. Corruption may be caused by various factors that may range from the desire of some people to make various policies fail or to embezzle a part of the available funds assigned for the use in the policy making and implementation.

In some instances, the implementation process is often curtailed by such factors as organizational pressures which may be in the form of incentives or disincentives. The kind of pressure depends on the type of organization, people involved, business type or even the interests pursued (Hill & Hupe, 2008). In other cases, organizations force their employees to act in a certain way either towards or against the implementation of a particular policy (May & Winter, 2009).

Practice Relevance Analysis

Policy makers often do not have experience or understanding of the practical aspects of the policies that they make. In most cases, they operate based on theories and assumptions that any reasonable person would consider practicable (May & Winter, 2009). However, there are many other factors other than the foundational notion of reasonability of policy. The most common factors are time and resources.

With most people who perform actual actions that entail the implementation of policies being trained in their particular fields of expertise, they are in elevated positions of understanding the implementation process. For instance, a caregiver and a child welfare caseworker have undergone training in caregiving and child welfare, respectively. They took the time to go through their curricula and training programs to be able to offer the services that they provide. Therefore, in the performance of their duties in caregiving and child welfare, they are expected by the society to offer the best services that they can. The provision of services, however, faces the challenge of policy implementation. In case the implementers have set limitations on time and resources, these workers will be unable to offer best services (Smith & Donovan, 2003). Their attention may then become fixed on meeting these timeframes and productive use of the resources with which they have been provided (Bauer et al., 2009). In doing so, they can underperform as they do not maximize their capabilities.

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The lack of resources due to budget constraints, social or political issues or, most commonly, corruption may also be a great factor. It greatly affects the process of implementing policies. Without adequate funds, the implementation processes are often stagnated or fail to be attained in totality. Such stagnation or failure may be solely due to the policy makers having been appointed as implementers who do not have an actual concept of what implementation would entail. Therefore, they end up misusing the funds provided or even embezzle them. Others involve themselves in corruption activities such as bribery to hasten or ignore the implementation process (Keiser, 2001; May & Winter, 2009). The lack of resources in any institution or certain policy may undermine the reputation of the institution as people may have a hostile attitude toward it or may lack trust.

Organizational pressures are also pertinent to the perception of policy implementation. These pressures are often the source of many hindrances to the attainment of any set goals or policies within a given framework (Heath & Palenchar, 2008). The main effect of such pressures is that the persons who do the actual work are rendered incapable of performing any activities that are not approved by the organization. They may also not do their best simply because the policies of the institution or other affiliated institutions would not allow them to act discretionarily (Hill & Hupe, 2008). This, in most cases, is the main cause of the failure or stagnation in the process of implementing policies. There are also pressures that may emerge for the main institution competitors. In such cases, the main institution may be forced to limit its employees on their roles and even adopt new policies that may not be consistent with the initial policies of the organizations. In the face of the competition, most organizations may find themselves undergoing an almost complete overhaul of their policies. It results in problems in the implementation of the new or modified policies which, in turn, affect the employees’ individualities and performance. Some policies may even be faced with opposition from the employees due to unexpected events or pressures.

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