The article by Pressman and Wildavsky analyses the problems associated with the implementation of EDA plan in Oakland.
The Congress established the Economic Development Administration which went to different cities with the mandate of empowering the minority groups by providing them with jobs. The administration chose Oakland as a pilot project to experiment how provision of incentives such as loans and public works could create permanent jobs for the minority groups. Years later, the project proves to gain no fruits with the construction work at stand still and the loans plan dead and thus creating no jobs for the minority population.
Following the failure of the plan, the authors try to figure out the main reasons why a plan that had big expectations and the federal government invested a lot of money in did not workout. The article also aims at creating an insight in the implementation of future project based on what happened on the Economic Development Administration plan in Oakland. The authors use the situation at the Oakland Economic Development Administration to relate to other similar policies and project and make several recommendations in the implementation of public policies.
The article is therefore useful to public administrators who intend to implement project in the future. Due to the high level of unemployment, the political situation and the possibility of riots in Oakland, the city was the perfect choice for the experiment. During the first stages of implementation, there was a lot of hope in the plan. It was a new project and was funded by the central government and therefore was given priority over other projects in the city. Due to this, very many people were concerned with the progress of the project.
Leaders and the political elites were very interested in it and were very committed to decisions touching directly on the project. Moreover, the money available for the implementation of the project was sufficiently enough to reduce the unemployment level in Oakland significantly. However, the pressure in the implementation was so high and decisions had to be made fast (Pressman & Wildavsky, 1984). Due to pressure that forced quick decisions, projects were chosen and endorsed hurriedly to create the much needed jobs.
The original projects included 10. 65 million dollars being allocated for an airport hangar, 10. 5 million dollars for a marine terminal, 2. 2 million dollars for a port industrial park and 414,000 dollars for an access road. Later, other projects like hangars in small airports, air cargo terminal and airport tower were added to the list. Unfortunately, as the project was being implemented, some problems emerged. One of the major problems was the false characterization of the experiment by the Economic Development Administration. Previously, government agencies had worked in the rural settings and therefore had a mindset on how such policies were to be implemented.
Therefore, it became very hard for them to change their approach in the case of Oakland which was an urban center. The excitements of the new project faded very fast while the changes in the leadership and the complicated governance in Oakland delayed the implementation of the program. The problems in contracting and delayed implementation resulted in an increase in the total cost of the project. For example the estimated cost of the airport hangar went up by over five million dollars between 1966 and 1968. The changes in the leadership changed the commitment of leadership in the project.
As time went on, the leadership in Washington was less committed or concerned with the progress of the project which was basically due to the change in leadership. The Economic Development Administration was also faced with a dilemma of whether to strive to perform and promise since different companies had received loans but had not kept their promise. Many companies did not follow the agreement after receiving the loans. The program was faced with numerous problems such that the number of jobs created was much less than the anticipated at the launch of the program.
After analyzing the implementation of EDA in Oakland, the article makes some recommendations based on the failures of the program. The first recommendation is that, in the implementation of a policy, the implementation and the policy cannot be separated. Policy makers should therefore ensure that implementation is part of the initial policy making process. To reduce delays, the policy makers should formulate means that can be used to accomplish the program and eliminate the possibility of quick decisions in the implementation process.
If the process of making decisions is made simple by making the process simpler, the likelihood of delays and possibility of failure is greatly reduced. The creations of proper machinery in the implementation and execution of the policy is also essential in the success of the program (Hill & Hupe, 2002). The article then relates the analysis of the Oakland scenario with other situations related to the Economic Development Administration such as providing foreign aids. In this situation, there are needs that must be satisfied combined with the need to spend the funds provided in a hurry.
These need and the pressure therein does not provide the correct atmosphere for the implementation of the policy. The article concludes that combining different decisions in the implementation of a policy has some positive as well as negative outcomes. Therefore if a policy is good and the execution of the program is also good, then the possibility of positive outcome is high. Similarly, if a policy is bad and the execution is poor, the outcome is also positive. However, if there is a combination of good and bad, there is always a problem associated in the implementation and there will be negative outcome.
Rather than the individuals involved in the policy implementation “knowing that” they should be “knowing how” if the implementation has to yield fruits. Having knowledge on the facts and methods of implementing the policy and how to make things happen is equally important (Pressman & Wildavsky, 1984). The two authors, Pressman and Wildavsky make keys suggestions on how policies should be developed. Their suggestions are based on careful analysis of the Oakland Economic Development Administration experimentation.
Although the details is the Oakland project are very interesting to the reader, the way the two authors apply these details to other similar projects in the country is more interesting. Although the project implementation took place over four decades ago, the analysis is still very relevant in administration of programs today. The most important lesson from the article is that policy makers should consider the implementation of the policy as important as policy itself. The article also acknowledges the role of interest groups in the success of any public policy.