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Title:Differing perceptions and the resulting uncertainty of public policy: An examination of the Clean Water Act's Section 404 Regulatory Program
Author(s):Glosser, Deanna Simmons
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Osborne, Lewis L.
Department / Program:Urban and Regional Planning
Discipline:Urban and Regional Planning
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Urban and Regional Planning
Abstract:A principal planning function is to formulate and implement policies which are designed to ameliorate perceived societal problems. Much of the planning literature therefore centers on the preparation of comprehensive plans or the formulation of public policy. Despite this attention, plans and policies fail. According to a growing number of researchers, these failures can be attributed to a reliance on the rational method, a tradition within the social sciences. Some critics of the rational method recommend that new methods be employed.
Others, however, suggest the rational method is appropriate, but only for problems that meet certain criteria. It is therefore important to carefully analyze a problem prior to the selection of a decision-making method. One such method examines the relationship between goals and technology. A two-dimensional matrix has been proposed that categorizes four types of planning problems; one characterized by agreement of goals and availability of technology; agreement of goals but no technology to solve the problem; lack of agreement regarding of goals but a perception that the technology exists; and finally, no agreement of goals and the technology not existing to solve the problem.
In order to examine this matrix within the context of an existing planning/public policy issue, a survey was designed for distribution to the four federal agencies involved in the Clean Water Act's Section 404 Regulatory Program, which regulates the deposition of dredge and fill material into the nations waters. These agencies were asked to categorize the program as one of the four types, as well as provide their perceptions of the roles of each agency, and the goals of the program.
Survey results reveal that this program is characterized by: no agreement regarding goals, but the technology being available to solve the problem. Further, goals and agency roles were found to be the most common areas of conflict and uncertainty. Given these findings, it is imperative that the anticipated goals be clearly articulated and that a solution involving multiple decision makers clearly define the roles of each. There is no reason to believe that the rational method should be discarded. It is important, however, that a problem be carefully analyzed to determine that this method could realistically be employed to find a successful solution.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Glosser, Deanna Simmons
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI8916251
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI8916251

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