Defining Policy Goals Through the Stages of the Policy Process

Creating the U.S. Department of Education
  • Beryl A. Radin


This is a case study that focuses on the way that perceptions of stages of the policy process impact the policy goals involving the creation of the U.S. Department of Education in 1979. Implicit in each of the goals was a definition of the policy problem to be confronted.

The policy process that served as the context for this policy is full of paradoxes. The system churns out regular choice opportunities yet the vagaries of uncertainty influence the environment in which decisions must be made.

The case study illustrates several aspects of the problem definition process including the assumption that the process is iterative; that the decision-making context must be understood; that attention must be given to the multiple actors involved; and that many problems can only be defined in terms of multiple goals.


education policy policy goals politics versus analysis stages of policy process 


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© Iris Geva-May 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beryl A. Radin

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