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
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
- 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.