A theory of termination in the policy process: roles, rhymes, and reasons

by Peter DeLeon

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The termination of public institutions, policies, and programs has generally not been studied, largely because the act of termination is emotionally so unpalatable and politically so difficult. For these reasons, there are few instances on which scholars can draw. However, increasingly limited resources insist that the termination option become more accessible to policymakers. This essay sets out six reasons why government organizations and policies have been so long-lived and suggests some general strategies for making the termination option more available. The key to the latter is to provide sufficient internal incentives so that the agencies will have good cause to evaluate their own programs and terminate them if they are found to be deficient.

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