Public Policy Analysis

Analyzing the impact of the policies requires an outcomes approach. This entails examining the outcomes of the policy and comparing them with the initial objectives that were set out during their institution (Birkland, 2014). For instance, the drinking age was raised to 21 with an aim of promoting traffic safety. This objective is to be compared with the outcomes in relation to traffic safety. In this regard, the analyst would look at the number of accidents that have been reported consequent to the policy implementation and particularly those that concerned persons under the age of 21. If the number of accidents caused or involving under 21s appears to be the same, then the policy had no impact. An increase or decrease in the number of accidents would mean that the policy has had an impact from which further analysis can follow. More generally, there should be evidence that the policy has enhanced traffic safety overall. In the same way, the sobriety checkpoints and random drug testing for public employees and high school students was initiated to address public health and safety issues. There should be thus clear outcomes of the tests and a demonstration of how their results have contributed to public health and safety. Therefore, the fundamental approach to take in deciphering public policy effects should be a focus on the outcomes in comparison with the objectives set in the first place. Also important is to ensure that outcomes are reported statistically in order to measure impacts and significance of differences.

In the event that the policies introduced had no impact, the obvious response from political groups would be to trade blame in the first place. The proponents of the policy shall be bashed and ridiculed for political capital (Birkland, 2014). Most probably, those who opposed it shall be on the forefront of blaming others and particularly bring in fundamental rights issues in the middle of it. They would exaggerate how such rights were violated by the policies and by summary how thoughtless the policies were in the first place. Going forward, heated political debate and growing public interest in the policies shall necessitate a way forward. At this juncture, the whole matter shall move from a blame game to suggestion of alternatives. There shall consequently emerge a process of repealing and replacing the policy or amending it. Through this process, it shall be understood why the previous policy failed and should be done to ensure the proposed one succeeds. Political groups may not react autonomously to policy failure and may take various stances based on public pressure or lobby groups (Birkland, 2014). However, what is guaranteed is that they shall disparage the drafters of the original policy and later begin the process of coming up with an amendment or replacement.

There are a number of due process, equal protection issues and standards raised by such policies. The states passed a law raising the drinking age to 21 which means there was a deprivation involved. This means that due process issues automatically apply to the policy. Particularly, there are substantive due process issues to be examined given that state power to come up with such policy can be put in question (Choper & Ross, 2017). There may also be procedural due process issues where it is examined whether the constitutionally laid down process of coming up with such legislation was followed. In terms of equal protection, it is important to consider if any party is denied equal protection of the law through such policies. For instance, the random drug testing was suggested for only public officers and high school students which leads to the question over why only those groups. There should be a rational basis for the establishment of all the laws, given that discrimination was inevitable in legislation.

The three tier test set by the Supreme Court requires strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny or rational basis to be applied in examining the constitutionality of a law with respect to due process or equal protection. Only laws that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, country of origin or threaten a fundamental right are subjected to such (Choper & Ross, 2017). The proposed policies did not entail any of such issues and therefore does not qualify for such scrutiny. There is no evidence that the laws also require intermediate scrutiny which is often applied in cases of discrimination based on gender or sex. Therefore, the suitable test was the rational basis, which when applied signals no violation. Public health and safety is a rational issue for the government to legislate on, and more so traffic safety. The test for violation is thus unmet.

Managerial, political and legal perspectives have considerable influence on the policy change, implementation and evaluation. From a managerial viewpoint, there is need to set up sobriety checkpoints strategically and in the same way allocate resources for random drug testing of youth and public employees (Birkland, 2014). Politically, there is need to harness support for the policies in order to see their full implementation and objective valuation. Such policies would be great if they gained bipartisan support. From a legal point of view, the law must abide to due process and the equal protection clause lest it be unconstitutional (Choper & Ross, 2017). Therefore, the law has multiple boxes to tick before it can be sustainably implemented as desired.


Birkland, T. A. (2014). An introduction to the policy process: Theories, concepts and models of public policy making. Routledge.

Choper, J. H., & Ross, S. F. (2017). The Political Process, Equal Protection and Substantive Due Process. Penn State Law Research Paper No. 5-2017

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