Agenda setting and problem identification

Who determines what is
• Agency staff or administrators.
• Client reports or advocacy efforts at the agency level.
• Community based social action, advocacy, or community
development agencies.
• Elected officials
• Political candidates
• Whistleblower reports
• City, state, and national advocacy/interest groups.
• Professional organizations
• Media
• House of Representatives/U.S. Senate
• State Assembly/Senate
• Federal information also available at: (Thomas) and Federal
• State information also available from the
Legislative Analyst’s Office
California Budget Project:
• We can also find legislative analysis, issue research, and
advocacy material on the websites of advocacy and research
organizations (for example, the League of Women Voters,
NASW, Children Now, the National Rifle Organization, National
Council of La Raza, NAACP, etc).
Information on the mission of the organization
Research Reports
Identification of Problems
Recommendations for New Programs or Modifications in
Current Legislation
Articulation of Values/Ideology
Identification of Disparities Among Groups
Links to similar organizations/Coalition partners
Requests for lobbying assistance/lobbying activities.
• Some web pages created by “virtual
groups.” These organizations may not
have actual members or an office.
• Some organizations may simply be
created to advertise or sell products and
may not be advocacy groups.
• Some websites may simply contain
erroneous information or gossip.
• It’s up to the reader to decide if the group
is real and information is accurate.
• See assignment criteria on:
• Have you been directed to the page by
another legitimate source?
• Do research reports contain academic
references? Is it clear who authored the
• Conducting research to identify the problem, its scope, and its
source. You also need to know how people are affected by the
• You need to find people who can testify at hearings or talk to the
media about the problem and its affects (both experts and people
who have experienced the problem).
• Research should be conducted on problem solutions. Alternative
solutions and their benefits/limitations should be identified.
• The current views and sources of power of decision-makers should
be identified. Also, the policy advocacy should identify interest and
advocacy groups that are likely to weigh in on the issue. The policy
advocate should identify likely allies on the issue.
• Find a legislator to sponsor a policy change and identify a likely
committee of origin.
• Find a “window” of opportunity for recommending a
policy change.
• Appeal to ethical principles such as social justice or
• Use media contacts to disseminate information about the
policy problems or solution.
• Provide detailed information to the media and decisionmakers in useable form.
• Utilize media contacts who are in a position to actually
advocate for and against issues (TV or radio talk shows;
editorial boards of newspapers).
• Mobilize the public to take action
• Cooptation of others
• Asking others for solutions or negotiating
agreements with other groups who may
want the legislation for other reasons
• Coupling two or more issues together
• Providing a good frame (way of viewing
the issue) and title
• We use policy models to view how decision-making works.
• Jansson describes Simon’s garbage can model:
Many issues and solutions percolate in the legislative process.
Therefore many ideas are generated and may be thrown together in
the general decision-making process.
• We’ve talked about the incremental decision-making process. Policy
is made in small steps and grows out of the process of negotiation
and compromise.
• There is also the rational model – in which good decisions are
thought to originate in expert decision-making and data analysis.
Legislators then act on what the expert has recommended.
• We will talk about other ways to view the legislative process later in
the course. (Elitist, neo-elitist, and public choice models).
• Looks at how various levels of government interact to
resolve problems and implement policies.
• Looks at the role of the various policy actors.
• Looks at how implementation may vary among agencies
and the various roles and jurisdictions associated with
these agencies.
• Looks at the flow of information and communication
among the various agencies and outside organizations.
• Looks at the impact of jurisdictional and communication
problems. Recommends solutions.