Panel: An Exploration of Policy and Program Termination
(The Impacts of Politics on the Policy Process)

Friday, November 7, 2014: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Navajo (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Rachel Krause, University of Kansas
Panel Chairs:  Elizabeth Graddy, University of Southern California
Discussants:  Christopher Weible, University of Colorado, Denver

What Happens after Program Termination? Iclei Membership Termination and the Continuation of Local Sustainability Efforts
Rachel Krause, University of Kansas, Hongtao Yi, The Ohio State University and Richard Feiock, Florida State University

In the literature of policy change, most research focuses on policy initiation and adoption, with few studies investigating the dynamics of policy termination. Policy termination has been characterized as the intentional cessation of specific government functions, policies or programs and involves the abandonment, repeal, or reversal of policies already adopted. DeLeon (1978) identifies three factors that influence the likelihood of policy termination: political ideology and related interest group pressures, the implementing government’s fiscal condition, and the extent of the policy’s effectiveness and efficiency. Of these, political ideology is pointed to as the single most important factor determining a policy’s continuation or termination. However, because of difficulties in measurement and relatively few observations of wide-spread termination, research on policy termination is limited and that which exists tends to be conceptual or case-study driven. Thus, DeLeon’s hypothesis remains under-tested and the relative importance of the various drivers and inhibitors of termination have not been established in a generalizable manner. This is particularly true at the local level of government. Finally, the consequences of policy and program termination have not been systematically examined and it is not clear whether and in what contexts it results in a complete abandonment of a government function, leads to a meaningful change in its implementation, or poses only a symbolic threat to its continuation. This panel includes three papers, each of which empirically examines the termination dynamic in the context of a different substantive policy area. The first explores the factors that influence the abandonment of economic development initiatives at the national, state, and local level. The second paper focuses on local termination and examines the contexts surrounding the decisions to end the delivery of various municipal services. The third paper empirically examines the consequence of termination by assessing the impact that ending involvement with ICLEI-Cities for Sustainability’s climate protection program has on the implementation of cities’ greenhouse gas reducing actions. All three of these papers include a local focus and together provide an in-depth picture of the causes and consequences of policy termination in U.S. municipalities. Given the minimal published empirical work in this area, the findings presented in this panel may contribute to meaningful advancements in the understanding of this dimension of policy change.