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Programs and Performance
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Monitoring the Policy Reform Process

  Quick Investigation of Quality (QIQ)
  Situation Analysis
  Performance Improvement
  Maximize Access and Quality (MAQ)
  Evaluation Indicators
  Implementing Policy Change
  Country AIDS Policy Analysis Project
Gender Lens
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Policy Circle Paper

Programs and Performance

Policies are often broad statements of intention and, as such, require supplemental implementation documents, including strategic plans, implementation plans, and operational policies to ensure that the policies are carried out (Walt and Gilson, 1994; Cross et al., 2001; USAID, 2000 and 2003). Programs are put in place to implement policies. This component of the Policy Circle includes the organizational structure (including the lead implementing agency or body), resources that support program implementation, and activities required to implement the policy through programs. It also includes monitoring and evaluation of performance to assess if goals of the policies and implementation plans have been met.

Policy implementation is political as well as technical. “Besides technical and institutional analysis, it calls for consensus-building, participation of key stakeholders, conflict resolution, compromise, contingency planning, and adaptation” (Brinkerhoff and Crosby, 2002: 6). Analysis can help reformers assess the capacity for implementation in a given policy context and also predict the actions of the various participants involved in the process (Walt and Gilson, 1994). Thus, policy implementation requires some of the same steps as policy development.

The process of policy implementation is often delegated to technocrats, who are charged with devising solutions, mobilizing and allocating resources, and ensuring maximum gains. Unlike the chief executive or policy elites, who must address the issues of constituents, technocrats are not bound by political obligations or tradeoffs. On one hand, this arrangement could lead to a more effective implementation process. However, if the individuals charged with implementation are new to the government (as is often the case in newly created democratic governments), and therefore not knowledgeable of, or limited by, established routines of the government, their lack of knowledge about government operations and bureaucracy could also hinder their efficiency (Brinkerhoff and Crosby, 2002).

Policy implementation is often multidimensional, fragmented, and unpredictable. The Implementing Policy Change Project has developed a framework that divides policy implementation into six tasks, some similar to the components of the Policy Circle (USAID, 2000).

  • The first task is legitimization, or getting the policy accepted as important, desirable, and worth achieving. For example, family planning policies and programs in some countries where some groups oppose contraception require periodic efforts to generate the support of government leaders.
  • The second task is constituency building, or gaining active support from groups that see the policy as desirable or beneficial.
  • The third relates to resources and the need for ensuring that present and future budgets and human resource allocations are sufficient to support the requirements of policy implementation.
  • The fourth focuses on the organizational structure as it involves adjusting the objectives, procedures, systems, and structures of agencies responsible for policy implementation. Developing or reforming operational policies, such as age limits and spousal authorization, can characterize this step (Cross et al., 2001).
  • The fifth is mobilizing action, or marshalling committed constituencies to develop action strategies to translate intent into result.
  • The sixth and final task is monitoring impact to assess the progress of implementation and to alert decision makers and program managers to implementation snags and intended and unintended consequences of the policy.

The tasks follow a roughly sequential order, and can therefore help to assess the position of the process at any given time, allowing for a view of what steps remain. Using the framework in conjunction with various tools, such as stakeholder analysis, can help to point out potential problems and obstacles to achieving policy reform (Brinkerhoff and Crosby, 2002).

Monitoring and evaluation systems and indicators should be built in to measure the achievement (or performance) of policies and associated programs.