For this assignment, you will write a 2.5-3-page memo to a lawmaker or another government decision maker. The memo will propose that you conduct a policy analysis on a topic of your choice. You will draw upon what you have learned about 1) the defining features of public policy, and 2) the stages of the policy analysis process.
Instructions and Assignment Overview
Using one article from the Reasons to be Cheerful web site, you will propose to your reader that they hire you to conduct a policy analysis to provide deeper analysis of an important issue. The memo will demonstrate that you understand the defining features of a public policy and the basic steps involved in conducting a policy analysis. Essentially, you will use concepts from class readings, lectures, and discussion, and apply them to a case/policy problem, to reach a better understanding of the issue, and of public policy analysis more generally.
Please note: This memo is a preliminary plan for a policy analysis – it is not meant to be the actual policy analysis. It does not require that you do any additional research beyond reading the article you have chosen. To answer the questions below, refer to the information in the article, and your own analysis as you think carefully about the policy and the problem. If you were presenting the results of a policy analysis, then you would do additional research and follow the remaining steps of the 8-fold process (Bardach). But that is not the purpose of this memo.
Step-by step process:
- Select an article from the website that will provide the focus of this memo. https://reasonstobecheerful.world/
- Select a client and a role for yourself. You might be a policy specialist for a member of Congress or the NJ State Legislature, or a city council member, or … it is up to you. Perhaps you are a researcher for a think-tank, a member of the White House staff or a policy researcher for an interest group. You might work for a university research center. You can create a fictional place of employment for yourself, but your client should be a real person or group.
- Defining public policy: Because lawmakers focus on public policies, you need to show that this indeed is one! Once established as a public policy, it then is clear that your audience should be informed about the policy and the policy problem by hiring you to conduct a full analysis. The reader will benefit because with a full understanding, they could decide to work to adopt, alter or substitute a different policy to address the problem in their location.
In this step, you will explain why the actions described in the article constitute a public policy. Use the concepts from class readings and discussions, applying relevant ones to the actions, to demonstrate why this is a public policy. Be sure to include in your definition what you see as the 2-3 goals of this policy, using concepts from class readings and discussions.
- What is a policy analysis – Here you will summarize for the reader what the steps of public policy analysis are. Then you will use concepts from readings and class discussions to show some of the steps you will take to analyze the policy issue you have chosen.
- You will define the problem in a problem statement. Tell the reader what problem the policy described in the article is responding to.
- What is the cause of the problem that the policy in the article is focusing on changing, so as to lessen the problem? What do you think might be one additional cause of the problem?
- What are three pieces of data or information that you would need to evaluate how best to address the problem. State three such pieces of data/information and explain why you need this to understand the problem or the policy better.
- What are at least two additional solutions that you would want to compare this one to, when you undertake a full policy analysis? Refer back to the causes noted in B above, and explain which cause these other solutions would address.
The Sections of this Memo (about 7 paragraphs total):
- Header and Introduction (heading and 1 paragraph). Begin the memo with the proper header, and a short introduction that sets out the purpose and contents of the memo.
- Why is [insert your article’s solution] a Public Policy? (1-2 paragraphs) This section contains your analysis of the dimensions/defining elements of a public policy as applied to the one you have chosen. You will establish that it is, indeed, a public policy and you will set out its goals.
- A Plan for Policy Analysis (2-3 paragraphs) This section contains your initial thoughts on the problem that the policy addresses, a few of its causes, a bit of the data you will collect when you do the full analysis, and a few of the alternative solutions you will consider when you do the full analysis.
- Summary and Recommendation (1 paragraph). You summarize your findings to date and recommend that the reader hire you to undertake a full analysis. Explain why the reader should do this. Why is it important for them to understand the problem and consider possible solutions?
- Reference. Provide a citation for the article you selected, and any other sources of information you used, besides the class readings. Note that you are not required to use any additional sources besides the one article that you select. Consult the library web site for one of the proper citation styles.