The Causes of Policy Inaction

First, it is important to acknowledge how insightful Melissa’s post is. She examines the primary causes of policy inaction and the lack of attention certain issues are unfortunately subjected to. In addition, based on these findings and discussion, Melissa formulates the formula of a perfect issue, which attracts enough attention to reach the desk of decision-makers and, in the end, the agenda. Melissa recognizes that the main reason as to why a problem is not a priority is its absence on the list of critical issues identified in an organization’s or an agency’s agenda. Thus, the most crucial task of policy advocates is to ensure the issue they support succeeds at making it to the agenda.

In order to do that, policy practitioners can utilize three strategies. To begin with, a problem has to attract the attention of decision-makers, which explains the first two strategies: to ensure public mobilization and to make an issue newsworthy. These tactics are exceptionally important as they eliminate the possibility of inaction. Public outrage and extensive media coverage demand a response, which can make a specific policy a priority (Jansson, 2018). Melissa mentions that due to the democratic process the United States cherishes, maximizing the possibility of re-election and securing public votes matters greatly to politicians. Therefore, only an issue, which has the potential to boost a decision-maker’s public image and satisfy potential voters, is surely able to attract the attention of officials (McConnel & Hart, 2019). The third strategy is for policy practitioners to demonstrate the need for a solution to a specific issue by providing legitimate evidence and expert prognoses. After all, decision-makers can rarely rally enough support from their colleagues to put a certain problem on the agenda based entirely on individual testimonies.


Jansson, B. S. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice. (8th ed.). Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning Series.

McConnell, A., & Hart, P. (2019). Inaction and public policy: understanding why policymakers “do nothing.” Policy Sciences, 52, 645–661 doi:10.1007/s11077-019-09362-2

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DemoEssays. "The Causes of Policy Inaction." September 16, 2022.