Project LEGAL's

Public Policy Analyst

Public Policy Steps


Selecting the best public policy solution

In Step 5 you listed three alternative policies and you made an initial selection of your preferred policy. Two criteria that will assist in determining the best policy are feasibility and effectiveness. Your best policy should rate highly in both, if possible.

Feasibility refers to the likelihood that your policy would be enacted by the government or government agency. Feasibility can be affected by factors such as cultural acceptance and the anticipated costs in comparison to the benefits. For example, a policy to cut off the hands of thieves might be highly effective in reducing stealing, but it would not be culturally acceptable in the United States. A policy to triple the size of a city’s police force may have the benefit of lowering crime, but the increased costs to taxpayers would greatly lower the feasibility of the policy being passed by the city council.

Effectiveness refers to the likelihood that your policy will produce results that lessen the social problem. To be able to anticipate the effectiveness, it is essential that your problem in step 1 is narrowly and specifically stated.

Policies that are high on one criterion are often lower on the other one. Of these two criteria, feasibility is usually more important than effectiveness. In other words, policies that have a reasonable chance of being enacted (feasibility) are usually best, even if they have only moderate effectiveness.