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How to Write a Policy Analysis Memo

You are a policy analyst assigned to either the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee or the National Republican Senatorial Committee. You have been asked to prepare an options memo for Senate candidates with regard to the role of public health in health care reform.

Remember that in this case you are probably writing for an audience that may not understand what public health is or what the relationship of public health is to health care reform. Thus some very basic concepts may need to be included in your background section.

Policy Analysis MemoSimilarly, though neither committee will be endorsing a presidential candidate before the nominating conventions, where the various candidates stand is an important part of the landscape. You want to be careful that the advice given by a national party committee at least takes into account where the major candidates stand – even if a Senate candidate chooses to depart from the conventional wisdom of the presidential candidates.

Your options should be within the overall philosophical constructs of the party for which you are writing, and the options you propose should require legislative action of some kind by the Congress (or else they would not be within the power of the would-be policy maker for whom you are writing).

Please be sure to adhere to the following structural elements in your memo:

  1. Stakeholder: Which party committee are you writing for?
  2. Problem statement: Clarify what aspect of the issue you will be addressing in your memo.
  3. Background: This should include a brief summary of the problem, whatever background is needed to understand the options related to this problem.
  4. Landscape: Any relevant political, economic, legal and other factors that need to be considered in assessing this issue. This must include who the key players are on this issue.
  5. Options: List at least three options for the stakeholder to consider as potential strategies. Before outlining your options, please indicate the criteria against which you will be assessing the options. You may then explicitly measure the options against those criteria, or do so implicitly in listing pros AND cons for EACH of the options. (No option is perfect!)
  6. Recommendation: From your options, pick a preferred approach. In arguing for the preferred option, please indicate why you are discounting (or how you can mitigate) the negatives described earlier.

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