Public Policy Decision Makers

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In this section:

Strategies for Action

Who has the authority to make the change I need?

Change doesn’t necessarily require a lot of people. Instead, you need to identify the people who have the authority to make the change you need. Can you get what you need through an agency staffer changing a regulation? Is a lawyer willing to do pro bono work to pursue a legal strategy? Has a pilot project inspired a political champion who will lay the groundwork for a legislative change? Match bold ambitious vision with a tactical plan that targets the right decision maker and builds buy-in and momentum both inside and outside of government.


Begin by looking at the type of change you want to make and identifying who is responsible for making the change.
If it’s legislation, you’ll likely need to go through a commission or elected body. If it’s an implementation change, such as changes to a program or funding changes, you’ll need to find out which agencies are responsible for implementing the kind of change you seek.


If the decision can be made by one person or a small department, identify who can influence their decision-making process.


If the change cannot happen through a unilateral decision (e.g., legislation needs to be passed or a new funding stream needs to be created), map out the full process.
Identify the decision makers or decision-making bodies you’ll need to go through. Often the public sector uses specific sequenced processes: for instance, a new ordinance or a procedural change may need to be sponsored by a council member, reviewed by a subcommittee, then approved by the city council or a leadership team. Make sure you’re mapping the process in the right sequence. When it comes to legislation, it’s important to know how many votes you’ll need to get it passed and who has veto power.


If your issue needs to be put on the ballot for voter approval, you’ll need to develop a campaign strategy.
Reach out to local campaign strategists to help formulate your strategy.