A policy memo
Actions analyzes a public policy problem and makes recommendations about how to solve that problem. It is written with a particular audience in mind- this audience is often a policymaker such as an elected official or director of a government agency, but it can also be written for an organization outside government (like Greenpeace) or for the media and general public. For this assignment, you will write a policy memo on an issue related to the topics discussed in this class: energy policy and physics. You will complete this assignment in two parts, as explained below.
Policy Memo Assignment PART 2
Write a policy memo on the issue that you have chosen in Part I, not to exceed THREE typewritten pages.
In addition to your policy memo, you must turn in a bibliography of your sources with full citations. You should have at least three sources of information from respected sources.
What is a policy memo?
A policy memo analyzes a public policy problem and makes recommendations about how to solve that problem. A well-written policy memo reflects attention to purpose; it is well organized and it has a clear, concise style.
Respond to your audience
Think carefully about the needs and expectations of your audience. For example, if your audience is an elected official seeking analysis on a highly technical matter, you should generally assume that the official lacks substantial technical expertise.
You will need to define technical terms and provide enough background about the situation you are discussing that such a lay audience can grasp your arguments. On the other hand, if you are writing for a technically trained audience, you will waste time and energy providing background information that your readers already know.
How to organize your policy memo
Introduction: One distinguishing characteristic of a policy memo is that a summary of the document’s conclusion(s) and recommendation(s) is placed right at the beginning of the memo. Remember that the purpose of the document is generally to provide your audience advice about a particular decision, project, or policy stance. Thus, you open the memo by summarizing the problem or situation about which you are writing, and by providing a very brief summary of the conclusions/recommendations you have reached during your analysis, sometimes referred to as “Bottom line up front.” The rest of the memo is designed to support the conclusions or recommendations you present.
Background: Keeping in mind that different audiences need different amounts of background information (see above), follow your introduction with a concise summary of any historical or technical information your audience needs in order to understand the arguments you are building.
Supporting arguments or analysis: Once you have set the stage for your audience, show how this information leads logically to the conclusions and recommendations you have provided. Be sure to include an analysis of the likely outcomes of your policy recommendations- both positive and negative. You will be more convincing if you emphasize the positive outcomes of your recommendations, but you will fail to convince an educated audience if you ignore the potential negative outcomes altogether. Better to acknowledge them, and show how they could be mitigated or outweighed by the positive outcomes. You may also include alternative policy options and show how they are inferior to your recommendations.
Policy Memo Guidelines
By writing this policy memo, you will gain experience in relating physics and energy to common problems discussed in newspapers and other popular media. Your goal is to learn to analyze scientific information from a public policy perspective. This assignment will challenge you to think differently about physics and energy.
Actions : Your memo should include:
a brief statement of the issue/problem;
a summary of current policy and relevant background;
justification of your recommendations;
and the pros and cons of your recommendation (may be included in justification).
It is a lot to cover in three pages, so aim for brevity in your language- using big words and lots of unnecessary verbiage will only make it harder. Just give us the boiled down information and your ideas in your own words. Simple and well-organized writing that shows a true understanding of your chosen topic will take you far.
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