Public Policy Process , what exactly is public policy process. Basically it is a collective name for sensitive issues that must be addressed by governments , organisations , communities , unions and so forth.  These issues may concern delicate areas such as transport , energy , social planning , fuel , infrastructure , the environment etc… These sectors are know becoming what are referred to as ‘wicked problems’. Originally the term ‘wicked problem’ was first used in social planning to describe a difficult or impossible problem to solve because of incomplete or changing requirements that are hard to manage and measure. Nowadays it is more commonly used for problems that seem to have no simple solutions may realistically never be solved .

SOMETIMES THINGS AREN’T AS EASY TO SOLVE AS WE WOULD LIKE TO THINK!

 It is quite easy to imagine some scenarios where difference in views and opinions will slow the progress of certain plans especially when it comes to social planning . One scenario I can think of is that of the re-development scheme in Ballymun, Dublin. It was quite clear to see that hundreds if not thousands of people were living in unacceptable accomadation in their ‘flats’. There were no amenities and something had to be done. The government decieded to relocate the locals and ironically flatten these ‘flats’. The reason it was a wicked problem is because many of the locals would not accept their houses being destroyed. Their was conflict between local councils and it’s people. This was a perticularly sensitive issue seen as it was the locals homes at stake. Fortunately the conflict was deceided as the locals were in fact re-located to fabulous new modern accommadation so the correct solution was in fact found. I choice this as a simple example just to show how their can so easily be conflict with these so called ‘wicked problems’.

 

 

 

 

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Essentially it is the government and to some extent other organisations such as the EU  who are in charge of Public Policy Process. They are in charge of addressing these sectors. Simply put they deceide who gets what , when , how much and why. Important planning must be implemented before hand and this is very important. From the lecture it seems their are five essential steps that must be discussed to solve any problem or implement any policy.

  1. Understanding the problem and all concerning issues
  2. developing solutions                                                                 
  3. choice of best solution                                                              
  4. putting best solutions into effect                                          
  5. monitoring and evaluating results                                      

All these steps must be enforced for there being any hope of any such wicked problem being succesfully ( if possible) dissolved. After these steps are taking , questions must be answered . Were the initial goals met? Can it be improved? Was it cost effective? Is it fair and what impact to those closely involved? Also very important to new policies is what we discussed in last weeks lectures and that is Indicators and how we can interpret these results effectively.

A simple example of a problem solving process 

 One wicked problem that in my opinion was certainly not handled correctly is that between Shell and the Corrib Gas field. This is an example of an environmental issue that has led to high levels of disagreements. Although it is Shell an not the Irish government involved in the extraction of the natural gas , they too became heavily involved. Originally the plan was to build an on shore gas refinery at Ballinaboy but there was major upheval through-out the local community. The locals wanted for the refinery centre to be built off-shore as it would have a major impact on the surrounding environment. Shell’s argument was that it would not possibly be cost-effective to build an off-shore centre. This led to protests and large scale unhappiness amongst locals.As of today there still has been no solution found as the correct balance or public policy has not been introduced. This is unfortunate as the gas field has potential to produce billions in revenue for the country. These sums up for me what a ‘Wicked problem’ is as there are environmental issues , government issues , corporation issues and social planning issues all wrapped up in one singular dispute.

An interesting ( well what I found interesting at least) side issue was brought up about the EU , and it’s involvement both directly and indirectly in Ireland. Collectively as a class it must be said that we knew quite little about the part it plays on our lives directly. Personally off the top of my head the only examples of a direct effect I could think of the the perk of being able to freely travel and work in other member states. Also I could think of the motorways that were funded by the EU  and thats simply because there are signs that say so. Maybe we should look closer for other signs that aren’t necessarily at the side of the road. What is important to know that almost all new public policies that are used by our governments have passed through the halls of the EU HQ in either Brussels or Strasbourg. They are discussed and evaluated by other members and in some cases modified. It is important too, that we remember that we , even as a small nation have a say in what goes on in Europe as that is the privilege of being one of the 27 states in a democratic society.

 

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