A policy memo analyzes a public policy problem

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.


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. Essential Elements : Your memo should include: -a brief statement of the issue/problem; -a summary of current policy and relevant background;

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