OCTOBER SERIES: PART I, WHAT IS PUBLIC POLICY?

images.jpg lets talk about it
If you opened a newspaper today, listened to a radio programme regarding governance or attended any conference organized by an NGO or a College, you are bound to encounter the words Public Policy.

In my own words, Public Policy is the fabric that clothes government strategies, planning and priorities. It is the lantern that gives direction to our government while it makes decisions affecting all of us or a majority of us.
Imagine that public policy was synonymous with the colour green and that Uganda as a country was a clear water sea. If you drop the green into the clear water sea, the colur spreads through and from a distance you can say, “This sea is all about green.”

In essence a Government with a good Public Policy will do good things for its people. According to Dye, T.: Understanding Public Policy, (1972), Public policy is whatever government chooses to do or not to do for its people. Usually a problem is identified and then government formulates a relatively stable, purposive course of action to deal with it.

index.jpg public policy colourOne of the popular Public Policies in Uganda is the Vision 2040 which seeks to deal with particular identified problems including inadequate infrastructure, underdeveloped Human Resource, underdeveloped service sector, lack of industrialization among others. The Policy lays out strategies to be undertaken by different stakeholders such as citizens, Civil society, the private sector and Government, to transform Uganda from a peasant society to a modern and prosperous country by 2040. That is what Public Policy is about. It is intentional, binding and affects a large number of people with respect to some tangible or symbolic allocation of goods and services. (Steven A Peterson, 2003)

Reading through the Vision 2040 gives me a sense of Ugandness. It speaks of my aspirations and of values that citizens should have such as patriotism, work ethics, integrity; and this it calls an ideological orientation. While I was not consulted directly but rather through my representatives, the aspirations laid therein are reflective of my wishes and desires as a Ugandan. On paper, Policy is always framed in a beautiful, wishful thinking kind of way. If only it could be implemented that beautifully!

Uganda adopted a Comprehensive National Development Planning Framework Policy in 2007 and Vision 2040 is just a fragment of that policy. The comprehensive policy includes ;
• Three 10 years Plans
• Six 5 year National Development Plans. (NDPs)
NDP I ( 2010-2015) was concluded and currently government is implementing NDP II
• Sector Investment Plans
• Local Government Development Plans
• Annual Work Plans and Budgets.

For this week, our part I of the October series will end here. I have tried not to be too detailed but as the weeks unfold, be prepared for more in-depth analysis of the varying policies. I had to be gentle on both you and myself considering that it is the first time we are engaging in this kind of thing on a conscious level.

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