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Triage WW I

Welcome to the first stage of the public policy cycle: agenda-setting. This is where the cycle starts. An item -- a neutral term intentionally devoid of implications -- must get attention, otherwise policy will not result. There is far more demand for government action than can be considered at any given time. The attention and the calendar of Congress, or your state legislature or your town council, is limited. What I call agenda triage occurs -- sorting and allocating based on setting priorities, originally a battlefield medical service resource allocation phenomenon. This makes the agenda problematic: How is the agenda set? This question looms large here.

I emphasize agenda setting as foundational for the public policy cycle. Why? Getting an item onto the agenda is a form of power. Keeping an item off the agenda can also demonstrate power. Some examples:

  1. Returns to capital such as stock transfers may get tax cuts, a benefit to affluent investors. Such items keep coming back to the agenda.
  2. Homelessness regularly gets ignored, a non-issue.

Why do you think this is so?

Agenda Contents^

The Public Policy Cycle Web Site | Page: © Wayne Hayes, Ph.D. | ™ ProfWork |
Initialized: July 28, 1999 | Last Update: 05/29/2014