Policy Memo

A policy memo is a pretty specific kind of writing exercise.  Specifically, it is a policy argument meant to convince a policy maker that a particular course of action is the best one.  While your policy memo is worth a lot in this class (25% of your final grade), they’re not actually very long.  For me you’ll be aiming for 6 pages (but bear in mind that real world policy memos are often shorter!).  Remember, policymakers are busy people, what with all that fund raising and kissing babies and the like…  

Here is a basic structure (note that formats vary somewhat in the resource links I provided below):

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Title Page

Executive Summary (1 or 2 paragraphs):  summarizes your argument–what are the most important points that you want someone to take away?

Background:  What is the problem?  Why is it important?  How did it come about?  Who are the stakeholders?  (this is one area where your earlier problem identification paper should help)

Policy Critique:  What has been done about this problem so far?  Why is it inadequate/not getting the job done?  What are other available options, and why do they suck?

Policy Recommendations:  What SPECIFIC policy action are you recommending?  The more specific, the better.  

Challenges:  What challenges are likely to come up in implementing this policy?  Who is NOT going to like this policy change?

References:  in text citation, bibliography (as per usual)

Here are some resources for help in writing a policy memo:

http://wilcoxen.maxwell. insightworks.com/pages/275. html
http://fordschool.umich.edu/ files/memo-writing.pdf

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