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POLSC431: Public Policy Process

Unit 2: Public Policy Formulation   The study of how public policies are formulated explores the specifics of putting together policies that will then be enacted.  The formulation of policies involves debate among different interest groups representing the public, political parties representing the institutions of government, and the bureaucrats who are regarded as experts in their field based on their experience carrying out and studying public policies.  It is therefore important to understand the politics that go into debates of specific policies and the various skill sets utilized by policy analysts in assisting actors in formulating policy.  Of special interest is the phenomena of “iron triangles,” in which congressional committees charged with making policy, lobbyists whose job it is to influence policy, and bureaucrats who administer policies all work closely together with individuals—often moving from one group to another and often making the crafting of policies an insular process in which outside viewpoints are rarely voiced.  This process of different groups coming together to debate and formulate specific policies can be seen most clear through a series of case studies.
 
The questions of how America should approach the often linked issues of energy and transportation policy are key to how the country will prosper in the future.  With gas prices skyrocketing and dependence on foreign oil being a continued drain on American industry, many policymakers have proposed pushing for investment in various new forms of green energy, such as wind and solar power, as a means of jump-starting the economy.  In addition to the rising cost of fuel, concerns over pollution have helped reinvigorate interest in hybrid vehicles and public transportation, despite the constant drain on resources that nearly all subway systems place on state and local governments.  How policymakers choose to focus America’s resources in the coming decades in order to answer these challenges will help determine the nation’s future.
 
Exploring how Congress, interest groups, and bureaucrats work together to formulate public health and environmental policies can also yield valuable lessons about the process of public policy formulation in contemporary America, such as with the debate over funding prescription drugs for the rising Baby Boom generation of seniors.  International organizations also often impact American public policy in areas that impact the rest of the world, such as protecting dolphins, while the United States may very well require the assistance of such organizations in promoting sustainable population policies globally and creating a healthy environment for all humanity.  Scientific researchers also help shape the process of policy formulation, especially in certain areas, such as vaccination, where expertise is especially important to good policymaking.

Unit 2 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 4.75 hours to complete. 

☐    Subunit 2.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 2.3: 1.75 hours 

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of various key concepts in the process of American public policy formulation.
  • Identify vital issues and specific areas of concern for contemporary American policymakers within the broad fields of American energy and transportation policy.
  • Identify key actors and agencies involved in public policy formulation.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of various decision frameworks used by policymakers in formulating public policies.
  • Identify key debates in contemporary American energy and transportation policy as well as the issues at stake and the arguments advanced by each side of the debate.

2.1 Key Concepts in American Public Policy Formulation   - Reading: Ramapo College: Dr. Wayne Hayes' : “Public Policy: Formulation” Link: Ramapo College: Dr. Wayne Hayes': “Public Policy: Formulation” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, read this entire webpage, and then click the links at the bottom to read more about public policy formulation.
 
This reading should take approximately 1 hour to complete.
  
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.2 Introduction to the Formulation of American Energy and Transportation Policy   2.2.1 Formulating Energy Policy   - Reading: Ramapo College: Dr. Wayne Hayes' : "Formulation Case Studies:" “VP Cheney Shapes Energy Policy in Secret” and “Senate Kills Fuel Economy Standards” Links: Ramapo College: Dr. Wayne Hayes’ “Formulation Case Studies:” “VP Cheney Shapes Energy Policy in Secret” (HTML) and “Senate Kills Fuel Economy Standards” (HTML)
  
Instructions: Please click on the link above, locate the titles on the linked page, select the links for these titles, and read these entire case studies concerning energy and fuel economy policies.
 
These readings should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Lecture: MIT: Fundamentals of Public Policy: “Energy Policy” Link: MIT: Fundamentals of Public Policy: “Energy Policy” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, locate the PDF from the linked site, and read this entire presentation on energy policy (7 pages).
     
    This lecture should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above. 

2.2.2 Formulating Transportation Policy in California   - Reading: Public Policy Institute of California: Louise Bedsworth, Ellen Hanak, and Jed Kolko;s: “Driving Change: Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled in California” Link: Public Policy Institute of California: Louise Bedsworth, Ellen Hanak, and Jed Kolko's: “Driving Change: Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled in California” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and select the “Full Report” link to read this entire PDF (32 pages) about reducing vehicle miles traveled in the state of California.  Please note that many cases studies in this course are drawn from California, which, because of its size, population, and wealth, often serves as a testing ground for national public policies.
 
This reading should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete.
 
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.3 Case Studies in the Formulation of Public Health and Environmental Policy   2.3.1 Formulating Prescription Drug and Dolphin Protection Policy   - Reading: Ramapo College: Dr. Wayne Hayes': “Formulation Case Studies:” “Prescription Drug Cost Dispute” and “WTO Rules against US Dolphin Protection Law” Links: Ramapo College: Dr. Wayne Hayes': “Formulation Case Studies:” “Prescription Drug Cost Dispute” (HTML) and “WTO Rules against US Dolphin Protection Law”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, locate the titles on the linked page, and read these entire case studies on formulating policies regarding prescription drugs and species protection.
 
These readings should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
  
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

2.3.2 Formulating Environmental Policies to Protect Public Health   - Lecture: Learner.org: The Habitable Planet: A Systems Approach to Environmental Science: Episode 5: “Human Population Dynamics” and Episode 6: “Risk, Exposure, and Health” Links: Learner.org: The Habitable Planet: A Systems Approach to Environmental Science”: Episode 5: “Human Population Dynamics” (Adobe Flash) and Episode 6: “Risk, Exposure, and Health” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and select the VoD icon next to each episode to watch it (approximately 29 minutes per video).  These videos discuss formulating public health policies in light of growing pollution and a rising world population.
 
Viewing these videos should take approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

2.3.3 The Role of Expertise in Formulating Vaccination Policy   - Reading: University of California, San Francisco: Chris Collins' "Policy Issues in AIDS Vaccine Development" Link: University of California, San Francisco: Chris Collins' "Policy Issues in AIDS Vaccine Development" (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the
information given on the webpage.  
    
 This reading should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use listed
on the webpage above.