Birkland Chp 2 Terms - Elements of the Policy Making System

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  1. Administrative Procedure Act
    A federal law that requires regulatory agencies to follow particular procedures in rulemaking such as public notice of new rules, public comment periods, and publication of rule-making activitiy in the Federal Register. A factor of the structural environment of policy-making.
  2. Black Box
    The part of any system model or theory that just assumes its operation without explaining how that part of the system translates inputs to outputs. For example in inputs-output model, the "policy process" is the black box.
  3. Budget Deficit
    The difference between what a government spends and what it receives in revenue. When a national government runs a deficit, it must often borrow to make up the difference thereby increasing the national debt.  A factor of the economic environment of policy-making.
  4. Case Law
    Type of policy output. Laws that are made as a result of judicial decisions and that influence future decisions. Contrast with statute law.
  5. Communications with Politicians, Officials and Staff
    A type of input in the policy process. Direct forms of communication from citizens to agency can make a difference in the local races/issues, but due to the volume of direct communication from the electorate to federal positions, direct response in return would be impossible. Instead a general feeling of the electorate's position, either way, is all that is useful.
  6. Demographer
    Individuals who study the composition of the population by looking at the distribution of age race gender and other attributes. Demographic information is a factor of the social environment of policy-making.
  7. Depression
    A particularly sever recession; in particular the Great Depression in the US and other nations from 1929 to the outbreak of World War II in 1939. It is accompanied by extremely high unemployment and significant reductions in the gross domestic product.  A factor of the political environment of policy-making.
  8. Evaluation
    Type of policy output. The process of determining whether and to what extent a program is achieving some benefit or it's explicit or implicit goals.
  9. Federalism
    A system of government in which power is shared between a central or federal government and other governments such as state or provincial governments. A factor of the structural environment of policy-making.
  10. Freedom of Information Act
    Federal law that allows citizens to gain information about government programs. This act is often invoked by journalists and researchers when the government is at first unwilling to provide information; it is sometimes successful in compelling the government to provide information.  A factor of the structural environment of policy-making.
  11. Gross Domestic Product
    The total value of all goods and services produced in a country.  A factor of the economic environment of policy-making.
  12. Initiative
    A type of input in the policy process. A process allowed in some states by which people can proposed and vote on laws via a petition and an election. Contrast with referendum.
  13. Interest Group Activity
    A type of input in the policy process. Interest groups are key actors in the policy process. Collective action wields more power than the individual.
  14. Input
    A factor in the policy process that impact the way policy is conceived made executed etc.
  15. Input-Output Model
    A model of the policy process that assumes a set of policy demands or inputs which are then processed by the political system into laws, programs, and the goods and services government provides.
  16. Keynesian Economics
    Theories and applications created or inspired by the economist Keynes, who argued that countriesshould accept budget deficits and government spending during recessions so as to stimulate the economy; then when the economy is growing, tax revenues can pay the debt so incurred.  A factor of the economic environment of policy-making.
  17. Legislative Intent
    Type of policy output. What the legislature meant in drafting legislation including what the language of the law should mean. Legislative intent is often difficult to discern by courts or other actors. Policy can be monitored for adherence to legislative intent through Congressional oversight.
  18. National Debt
    The total amount of money owed to a nation's creditors such as those who hold Treasury bills and savings bonds. A factor of the economic environment of policy-making.
  19. National Mood
    How we (as a nation) feel about government handling of public problems. Can be estimated through polling, presidential and congressional approval, and various economic indicators. Important because "legitimacy of democratic political systems depends in large part on the extent to which the electorate trusts the government to do what is right at least most of the time." 41
  20. News Media
    A type of input in the policy process. The news will highlight some issues and deemphasize others and can therefore shape the discourse surrounding a policy issue. Can be used by policy makers to strategicallly leak information about policy to gauge public reaction. Enough media scruitiny can prevent or
  21. Open Public Meeting Laws
    Laws that mandate that most public meetings and hearings should be open to the public in decision making. This provides an avenue for public input and greater access to government. A factor of the structural environment of policy-making.
  22. Outputs
    Political system's basic statements of public policy that reflect the government's intent to do something. Can be various types of policy tools.
  23. Oversight
    Type of policy output. Overseeing programs that Congress has already enacted to be sure they are being run efficiently and effectively and following legislative intent. Often occurs in the form of Congressional Oversight hearings.
  24. Policy Environment
    The structural, social, economic, political and other factors that influence and are influenced by policy-making.
  25. Public Opinion
    A type of input in the policy process. Public preferences sought through polling. Statistically representative and good snapshots of public opinion. Can look at political preferences, issues of importance, general political quesitons, or determine how best to discuss or message a policy.
  26. Recession
    A period of economic contraction in which the value of the gros domestic product shrinks for two consecutive quarters. A factor of the political environment of policy-making.
  27. Referendum
    A type of input in the policy process. The referralof a proposed change in law to voters for approval. Referrendums or referenda often involve state constitutional change or local decisions on taxation of issuance of bonds to pay for large capital projects such as roads or new public buildings.
  28. Regulations
    Type of policy output. The rules made by government agencies and regulatory bodies to implement the meaning of the laws under which the agencies operate. At the federal level, they are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations and usually have the force of law.
  29. Separation of Powers
    The consitutional division of power between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the government. This is an important dynamic to keep in mind when discussing policy because the separation of powers can prevent or alter new policy or in varying ways influence existing policy.  A factor of the structural environment of policy-making.
  30. Statute Law
    Type of policy output. Laws made by the legislature and signed by the governor. Most such laws are codified into state codes or statutes.
  31. Systems Thinking
    A way of thinking about natural or social phenomena as a system in which various inputs into a system are handled, processed and interact with each other to create a set of discernible outputs.
  32. Tax Expenditures
    Government payments or subsidies in the form of tax deductions or credits; they are called "expenditures" because not collecting a tax is similar to collecting it and spending it. A factor of the economic environment of policy-making.
  33. Transfer Payments
    Transfers of money from the government to individual recipients such as farm subsidies disaster relief and various social welfare programs. These decrease in times of recession.  A factor of the economic environment of policy-making.
  34. Unemployment Rate
  35. Structural Environment
    A type of policy environment. Includes the framework of the US government including the separation of powers and federalism as well as other traditions and legal structures in place that establish the rules of policy-making.
  36. Social Environment
    A type of policy environment. Nature and composition of the population and society that will influence policy. For example, the US has had a slow growth rate since 1960 which means we have an older population on average, this will have an impact on healthcare and pensions and policies stemming from mitigating these problems. Racial and ethnic diversity in parts and the US as a whole have influences on all policy from immigration, to income disparity, to access to opportunities such as affordable housing.
  37. Political Environment
    A type of policy environment. How do people feel about various issues and how will that impact the ability to set and enact policy. Use public opinion polling. Most Important Problem (MIP) questions to gauge the "national mood"
  38. Economic Environment
    A type of policy environment. Includes the growth of the economy, the distribution of wealth in a society, the size and composition of industry sectors, the rate of growth of the economy, inflation and the cost of labor and raw materials. Aspects of the economic environment gain the greatest attention from policy makers and the public.
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Birkland Chp 2 Terms - Elements of the Policy Making System
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