Policy is the guiding principle that governs the actions taken in accordance with the policies. Policy is a document that tells us what we should do in certain situations. For example, if there are health issues, the government would set up a health policy so that people understand how to deal with the situation when it arises. Policy is nothing but a systematic approach to guide and manage future activities in an orderly manner.
The word “policy” means a formal system of rules to guide future decisions and reach reasonable results. A policy is also usually an enacted statement of purpose, which is formally implemented as a legally binding procedure or rule. Most policies are formally adopted by a governing body within organizations. Government policies can be general and pertains to all levels of government or it can be limited to specific institutions, sectors or locations. It can even be an appendix to another piece of legislation.
Government policies help an organization make sense out of its existing structure of decision making processes. They also indicate the organization’s vision and mission and therefore help in achieving cooperative efforts. The process of formulating policies is known as Policy Development and policy implementation. Policy Development includes conceptualizing of policies, developing relevant literature, analyzing current practices and constructing relevant organizational behavior.
Policy analysis is essential to the efficient performance of a government organization at all levels. Policy analysis helps in improving the overall quality of service delivery at the organizational level and thus contributing to the public policy framework and practice. Policy development involves setting forth and implementing strategies to achieve desirable policy objectives. Policy development involves planning and organizing activities for realizing the desired objectives. Policy implementation is the process by which policies are applied and managed successfully.
Policy makers are required to take into account various other sources of advice before arriving at the final conclusion as regards the formulation and management of public policy. Public policy experts in organizations such as the United States Congress, Federal Trade Commissions etc. contribute significantly to the development of public policy. Since these experts are elected or appointed for a specific purpose and they are accountable to the constituents for their decisions, they should be capable of communicating with confidence the intended message to the appropriate audience. Moreover, such experts need to be sufficiently knowledgeable in their particular area of expertise and also in the public policy fields in order that the policies they formulate and support are compatible with the policies and reforms of their constituents.
A policy statement has to be consistent with the vision of the organization. Policy statements may be adopted after thorough discussion and debate in the organization for which they are intended. Policy statements need to be effective, clear, concise, comprehensive and relevant to the objectives of the organization. An effective policy statement will not only serve as a guide in the discharge of certain activities, but it will also help in achieving the targets set forth in the annual budget, resource allocation of human and financial resources towards achieving organizational goals. The importance and effectiveness of a policy statement can never be underestimated.