Project LEGAL's

Science Public Policy Analyst

Science Public Policy Steps


Developing public policy solutions

If a group were planning what to do next Saturday, they would probably first identify several alternative activities. Likewise, in order to develop a public policy solution for your social problem, it is helpful to consider some alternatives.

Two prior steps can be very useful to developing public policy alternatives. One way to solve a problem is to eliminate or lessen the causes or contributory factors. For example, a policy to reduce teenage smoking is to raise the price of cigarettes by taxing them so that they will be too expensive to teenagers to purchase. The reason for this policy is to try to eliminate one of the causes. Review the causes and contributory factors that your group identified in step 3. Are there any that could be decreased or eliminated through a new public policy?

Another source for developing public policy alternatives is the current policy. Review step 4, especially your answer to question 4. Perhaps your group thinks that the current policy fails to even deal with the problem and should be totally replaced. Perhaps the current policy simply needs to be strengthened or improved ( e.g., tougher penalties, more public education about the policy, additional regulations, clearer guidelines, etc.)

Be sure that your group develops new/original public policy alternatives, not public policy goals. For example the following are public policy goals: improve education, reduce pollution, and lower the crime rate. Politicians often fill their speeches with public policy goals that can appeal to almost everyone. A public policy must include a specific type of government action to reach the public policy goal.

Finally, be sure that all of your public policy alternatives are at the same geopolitical level as your social problem.