Policy formulation involves developing strategies for dealing with policy issues which have been placed on an agenda. Policy formulation takes both the effectiveness and the viability or acceptability of proposed actions into account. Effectiveness refers to valid, workable strategies that address the situation, while acceptability refers to those strategies which are more likely to be put into action.
Developing public policy begins with a set of guiding principles and by identifying issues, goals and objectives. In the analysis phase, the issues are carefully considered and various possible courses of action are proposed. The list of recommendations are then discussed by the policy makers and a decision is made based on the available information. An ideal policy is both feasible and acceptable.
In most situations involving public policy, planners who may include public employees, as well as outside groups or individuals, work on the initial stages. Other parties, such as town council members or a company's board of directors, typically examine the information gathered and make the final decision as to what will be implemented.