Public Policies

The Big Paper Itself
Before you get started, remember there may be some variation in this format, depending on the topic of the paper and the research methods being used. Policy papers should be approximately 25 to 50 pages in length, for everyone. We will focus on the various parts as we move along. Also, it may seem elementary, but I am going to ask you to hand write and submit in hard copy each outline of each part before we begin just to make sure you are on track. Therefore, your first job is to read this section, and let me know if you have any questions.
Executive Summary: At the beginning of the paper in telegraphic style, explain who the target audience is (i.e., the decision-maker for your policy proposal) and the main points that the decision-maker should know. Write this section last because it will serve as a summary of the entire paper. At a minimum, the summary should include the following:
ï A statement of current policy
ï Reasons for initiating changes
ï Policy options to be considered
ï Pros and cons of each option
ï Recommended course of action
ï Reasoning for selecting that course of action

Body of Paper: The main portion of the paper should be dedicated to establishing the background and discussing the reasoning behind the policy recommendation. Students should include all of the basics from the executive summary, but fully elaborate on each point that the paper is making. The following is an outline describing what the main body of the paper should include.
Overview / Background: Statement of purpose – Why is the decision-maker being asked to consider a policy change at this time? ï Review the Current Policy – What are we currently doing, why are we doing it this way, what is the public’s perception of the policy? Assess how well it is or is not working. ï Statement on the Necessity for Change – What circumstances (e.g., changes in government, leadership, stability, etc.) have changed that make a new approach advisable or necessary?
Discussion: Discuss the alternatives to the current policy option by enumerating and explaining each policy option in turn. ï Pros and cons of each policy option should be discussed next. Identify the political, economic, and security implications for each option. Each policy option should be compared and contrasted to the other options as well as to the current policy. This is the most important part of the paper. You may wish to compare your options using a chart.
Recommendations: Clearly identify which option will be recommended and which options will be discounted. ï Clearly lay out the argument for why that option is better than each of the others. Give details and examples if it has worked or background on the parts that have worked. In other words, explain why this option is the chosen one, without giving your opinion. All reasoning should be based on facts, research, previous practices, etc.
Implementation: Write a detailed recommendation for specific steps on how and when to implement the recommended policy option.
Appendices (you may not need one, but likely you will. Remember these papers will vary): The following items should be included as appendices to a policy paper. ï Annexes, if there are any. ï Endnotes, if end notes are used rather than footnotes. ï Tables, charts, maps, etc. Maps can also be placed within the body of the paper, if appropriate.
References used in APA style. Read about APA style here: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
Other Considerations and Notes:
Policy Paper Content and Analysis Viable Alternatives: Policy papers must present several policy alternatives, and they must be serious alternatives. As a general rule, three options should be presented. One serious alternative will often be to maintain the status quo. Even if the status quo seems dangerous and stupid, students should take it seriously because in the real world it will often be the most likely outcome. Students should check with their advisers to see if the status quo should be included as one of the policy options. The alternatives presented must not be strawmen that are so ridiculous they only serve to make the recommended policy look good. Of course, it is fine to go deeper into the preferred alternative than into the other options, but the other options must be given a fair presentation and analysis.

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The most common way to examine policy options is Cost-benefit analysis. Policy papers should be based on clear cost-benefit analysis. This analysis may be either quantitative or qualitative. In either case, the student should be certain to think through all possible outcomes clearly and thoroughly. The cost-benefit analysis should seriously consider the feasibility of implementation, not only in terms of economic or strategic implications, but also in terms of political feasibility. Moreover, the analysis of likely effects must not be completely one-sided. There are always going to be some benefits and some costs to any policy proposal. Clear Criteria Students should present clear criteria for evaluating the problem at hand and the policy alternatives to be considered. This will involve prioritizing among a variety of possible values. Trade-offs are the heart of the policy process – if solutions were easy or obvious, the problem would not be around for the student to analyze. Determining clear criteria from the start will greatly aid the development of a cost-benefit analysis. Clear predictions What are the likely results of the various alternatives? Be specific and reasonably detailed. What level of certainty can one have about them? And what middle-run indicators would demonstrate success?

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