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Policy issues, managerial prerogative in various governmental agencies in relation to service provisions and execution of roles are increasingly thorny issues in social science discourses and the public arena. Increasingly, the public is not satisfied with services and policy intervention frameworks or partial fulfillment of these mandates. Thus policy analysis is today a popular discourse in politics, economy and environmental issues (Dye, 2008)..
At the core, public policy analysis is seen as twin brother of politics. This is because public policy has to do with the ‘‘public’’ where decisions are arrived at to deal with issues that directly or indirectly impact on communities. Whereas the scale of public sphere is many including- the whole world, public policies analysis are designed and carried out to address public matters. Modern Political theory as conceptualized by Machiavelli reckons that if human beings plan political actions they take in pursuing objectives, then political opportunities are easily captured. This seems to capture what policy analysis is all about.
While public policy is a widely held conception, arriving at a standard definition is still in contention and remains elusive. For the purposes of this paper, public policy refers to ‘‘a statement by government of what it intends to do such as a law, regulation, decision, order, or a combination of these. The lack of such statement may also be an implicit statement of policy’’ (Dye, 2008). Public policy analysis thus refers to assessment of laws, regulations or a set of laws that govern a particular issue area of a problem. Broadly, public policy gives birth to agencies and vice-versa. The workings, origins and structure of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exemplify this.
EPA is mandated to develop, implement and enforce environmental protection laws. The laws are aimed at ensuring that among others there is clean air and proper sewage systems and recycling. It came to force as in recognition that that there is need to protect the environment (Mintz, 2005).
Indeed, while global warming is a concern to many, arriving at consensus on how to mitigate it remains elusive. Measures aimed at carbon emission reductions and keeping environment clean such EPA, have thus received both praises and criticisms in policy analysis circles. Others reckon that the EPA is an efficient strategy and a crucial step towards this endeavor. EPA, which has regional offices in USA, was formed to create and implement policies on environmental legislation. It gets guidelines from the US Congress, but determines how the objectives stipulated in a specific legislation are met. For instance, it is EPA that issues permits but also delegates the same responsibility to other state organs. Also, the agency is one of the main sources of information on environmental issues, including monitoring. However, in coming up with its designs, it gives grants to state agencies which conduct public research and makes their findings available to it to act upon (Mintz, 2005).
In sum, often times public policies are a result of policy analysis and problems at hand. It is also a political issue shaped by a number of political forces such as the state and its agencies.