The Policy Implementation Process
I am impressed by the extent to which policymaking is dominated by the representatives of those bureaucracies and professions having a material stake in the management and funding of the intended policy and by those political staff who see in a new program a chance for publicity, advancement, and a good reputation for their superiors.
--JAMES Q. WILSON
"IMPLEMENTATION IS THE continuation of politics by other means." 1 The policymaking process continues well after a law has been passed by Congress and signed by the president. The focus of the process merely shifts from Capitol Hill and the White House to the Washington bureaucracy--to the myriad of departments, agencies, and bureaus of the federal executive branch of government that are charged with the task of implementing the law.
The actual governance of the nation rests in the hands of bureaucrats. Neither Congress nor the president collects taxes (the task of the Internal Revenue Service), or closes down nuclear power plants (the Nuclear Regulatory Commission), or halts commercial development on wetlands (the Environmental Protection Agency), or inspects factories for safety violations (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), or grants licenses to television stations (the Federal Communications Commission), or orders employers to hire minorities (the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), and so on. Approximately 2,000 federal government agencies have rulemaking power. Bureaucracies announce an estimated twenty rules or regulations for every one law of Congress. 2
Policy implementation is all of the activities designed to carry out the laws enacted by the legislative branch of government. These activities may include the creation of new organizations--departments, agencies, bureaus, and so on--to carry out new laws, or the assignment of new responsibilities to existing organizations. These activities may include the development of specific rules and regulations that interpret the real meaning of laws, and they almost always include the making of budgets and hiring of personnel, spending money, and performing specified tasks. And these activities often include the adjudication of individual