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NCJ Number: 64273 Find in a Library
Title: STRATEGIC RETREAT ON OBJECTIVES - LEARNING FROM FAILURE IN AMERICAN PUBLIC POLICY (FROM PROGRAM EVALUATION IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR, 1979, BY ALBERT C HYDE AND JOY M SHAFRITZ - SEE NCJ-64272)
Author(s): A WILDAVSKY
Corporate Author: Praeger Publishers
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 24
Sponsoring Agency: Praeger Publishers
Westport, CT 06881
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A LOOK AT AMERICAN PUBLIC POLICY OVER THE LAST FEW DECADES SHOWS APPARENT RETREATS FROM OBJECTIVES ALONG WITH CHANGES IN POLICY PREFERENCES, ESPECIALLY CLEAR IN THE AREAS OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND CRIME.
Abstract: FOR EXAMPLE, PRISON REFORM POLICY AND TREATMENT APPROACHES WERE BASED ON REHABILITATION IN THE RECENT PAST. SUCCESS WAS MEASURED BY RATES OF RECIDIVISM. THE RESULTS OF CORRECTIONAL POLICY EVALUATION HAVE BEEN NEGATIVE--RECIDIVISM HAS NOT BEEN REDUCED. LIKEWISE PROGRAMS IN THE HEALTH AND EDUCATION FIELD, WHEN MEASURED BY AN OBVIOUS AND MEASURABLE CHANGE IN THE CLIENT POPULATIONS, TESTED AS UNSUCCESSFUL. THE MAJOR REASON FOR THESE FAILURES WAS THAT OBJECTIVES WERE NOT ATTAINABLE FROM THE OUTSET. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT TO PRODUCE RADICAL CHANGES IN THE BEHAVIOR OF ITS CITIZENS WITHOUT USE OF REPRESSIVE MEASURES, AND PUBLIC POLICY OBJECTIVES HAVE BEEN SET WITH THIS KIND OF A CHANGE AS A GOAL. FAILURE TO ATTAIN OBJECTIVES HAS PRESSURED GOVERNMENT AGENCIES INTO SHIFTING BLAME, PUTTING FORWARD NEW RATIONALES FOR EXISTING CONDITIONS, AND DESIGNING NEW APPROACHES FOR GRAPPLING WITH THE OLD PROBLEMS. THIS HAS OFTEN APPEARED TO BE A TURNABOUT IN POLICY. WHAT IS NEEDED IS A MORE REALISTIC APPROACH TO SETTING OBJECTIVES THAT EMPHASIZES IMPROVEMENT IN THE ACTIVITY OR BEHAVIORS OF A TARGET POPULATION THAT CAN BE CONTROLLED TO SOME EXTENT OR RADICAL TRANSFORMATION IN OBJECTIVES BY WHICH BEHAVIOR IS JUDGED. SINCE CRIMINALS ARE NOT VERY SUSCEPTIBLE TO CHANGE AND STUBBORNLY ADHERE TO THEIR WAY OF LIFE, AND BECAUSE FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO CRIME (E.G., SOCIOECONOMIC AND CULTURAL FACTORS) ARE NOT EASILY INFLUENCED BY GOVERNMENT ACTIVITY, A NEW TARGET POPULATION SHOULD BE SOUGHT BY CRIMINAL JUSTICE AGENCIES. THIS TARGET POPULATION COULD EASILY BE CRIMINAL JUSTICE PERSONNEL AND VICTIMS. STANDARDIZING INTERNAL PROCESSES AND EQUALIZING AGENCY OUTPUTS ARE IMPORTANT AND ATTAINABLE OBJECTS WHOSE FULFILLMENT COULD RESULT IN LESS ARBITRARINESS IN SENTENCING AND PAROLE DECISIONS, GREATER EQUALITY IN PLEA BARGAINING, REDIRECTION IN POLICE PATROLS AND MORE. SUCCESS COULD DEPEND ON ORGANIZATIONAL EFFORT RATHER THAN ON INDIVIDUAL OUTCOMES. ALTHOUGH THE ARGUMENT COULD BE MADE THAT A REDEFINITION OF THE PROBLEM DOES NOT ERASE IT, POLICYMAKERS CAN CONTEND THAT CONDITIONS SURROUNDING THE PROBLEM ARE AT LEAST BETTERED. (DAG)
Index Term(s): Evaluation; Objectives; Operations research; Planning; Policy; Policy analysis; Public administration; Systems analysis
Note: EARLY DRAFT OF AN ARTICLE BY AARON WILDAVSKY IN 'SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER - THE ART AND CRAFT OF POLICY ANALYSIS', 1979
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64273

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