After the Agenda is Set


A reminder of the Policy Process Model.

Here is more information on the steps after agenda setting (to be continued next week).

Policy Formulation

Policy formulation is the development of proposed courses of action to help resolve a public problem.

Policy alternatives are studied and advocated as part of the policy stream and evaluated against the prevailing standards for policy acceptance (which include economic cost, social and political acceptability, and likely effectiveness in addressing the problem).

In most policy areas the appointed and career officials in a bureaucracy are among the most experienced and knowledgeable policy actors.They have the technical information needed to develop policy and the political knowledge that comes from working in the policy arena. However, while their knowledge can be enormously valuable in formulating new policy approaches, current officials who are strongly wedded to traditional approaches may be concerned about the implications of new policies for their offices, resources, and careers.

Interest groups are also active contributors to policy formulation. They have a great deal of information at their disposal, and they attempt to shape policy to serve their own economic or political needs.

Policy Legitimation

Policy legitimation is the giving of legal force to decisions, or authorizing or justifying policy action.

It may come from a majority vote in a legislature or a formal executive, bureaucratic, or judicial decision (Jones 1984).

From some perspectives, the process of legitimation includes the legitimacy of the action taken, that is, whether it is thought to be a proper exercise of government authority and its broad acceptability to the public and / or other policy actors. Policies that are adopted without such legitimation face serious hurdles. They may fail to command public support, affected interest groups may oppose them or even challenge them in court, and their implementation could be adversely affected.


  • Kraft, Michael E. and Scott R. Furlong, 2010. Public Policy: Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives 3rd ed. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
  • Jones, Charles O. 1984. An Introduction to the Study of Public Policy. 3rd ed. Monterey, Calif.: Brooks/Cole.

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