This chapter provides an introductory overview of the evolution of the public policy environment in the United States. As a young country, the United States has found itself trying hard to define what it wants to be—a government with strong centralized control to guide with a firm hand the development of its society and economy, or a deferential body of last resort to provide only the most fundamental governmental necessities, such as national security, while leaving decision-making power to the states and the citizens. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in 1932 in the midst of the Great Depression and a declining American economy. His New Deal policies would place government at the center of the economy rather than business, giving far more centralized control to regulatory agencies. The New Deal period and the subsequent Great Society period reshaped American governance to emphasize a stronger and broader approach for government in the lives of citizens.