Policy Question: How do we improve public engagement in local government meetings? 

Choose a policy topic related to your chosen MPA Certificate. You will be required to develop a policy brief related to the topic. Assume as if you are a government administrator in charge of an agency. You should write the policy brief to an elected policymaker in state or local government in Florida with regard to the initiation of a NEW, but politically and policy realistic course of action for the government agency.

For example, a hot topic in public finance and human resources is the future of the traditional defined benefit pension system. Assume you are Florida’s Senior Defined Contribution Programs Officer (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (yes, this is a real position). You could then write a piece titled “What form of pensions should public agencies adopt?” You could define the problems facing public pensions and give the pros and cons of adopting the form of pension that is typically given.

Another example is from the emergency management realm. A major question for an emergency manager/ resiliency officer/ chief planner in a coastal city in Florida could be: “What should the city do to combat sea level rise?” You might outline the pros and cons of various methods and speculate on how we could do it better. Ideally, you should use some form of weighing between the alternatives (e.g. cost-benefit analysis, SWOT analysis) to arrive at your recommendation. (Yes, you might do well to revisit the materials from the Policy Analysis course.)

Your policy brief should:

The analysis should include the political implications of the course of action that you propose. This paper will have a one or two page executive summary at the beginning. The major focus of this assignment is a complete and comprehensive review of the nature of the problem and evaluation of the policy alternatives.

See the Exemplary Policy Memo, “Increasing the Social Value of Canadian Salmon Fishery” from Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice (pp. 2-22), by David L. Weimer and Aidan R. Vining.


Click here for the Rubrics for grading the Policy Brief 




  Weight Poor(1) (2) Average(3) (4) Excellent (5) Total
Executive Summary Findings 5% Does not include an executive summary  

Between Poor and Average

Includes an executive summary but the summary does not mention problem, alternatives, criteria & recommendation  

Between Average and Excellent

Includes a well laid out, precise executive summary that briefly mentions the problem, alternatives, criteria and recommendation  
Problem Justification 10% Does not include a justification of why the issue is a public problem Provides a justification of why the issue is a public problem, but does not provide supporting evidence Provides a good justification of why the issue is a public problem, with adequate supporting evidence  
Background Analysis of the Problem 15% Provides unclear/confusing problem analysis without supporting research (e.g. no case study) Provides problem analysis that is somewhat supported by research (e.g.undeveloped case study, not related to policy alternatives) Problem analysis that is well supported by research (e.g. a relevant case study that informs policy alternatives)  
Evaluative Criteria 10% Provides unclear/confusing criteria Provides criteria (up to four) that are relevant to the topic but does not say how the criteria is measured Provides clear relevant criteria (up to four) and clear measurements of each criterion  
Policy Alternatives 20% Provides unclear/confusing policy alternatives for the problem Provides clear alternatives for the problem but the alternatives are not mutually exclusive Provides clear, original, creative and mutually exclusive alternatives  


15% Does not evaluate the outcomes of each alternative with respect to each criterion Briefly evaluates the outcomes of each alternative with respect to each criterion only Thoroughly evaluates the outcomes of each alternative with respect to each criterion and explains the comparison  
Data/ Evidence for alternatives


10% Does not provide any data or evidence for alternatives Shows minimal data or evidence for alternatives (e.g. secondary data) Shows original data or evidence for alternatives (e.g.student has interviewed at least one expert)  
Criteria Alternatives Matrix 10% Does not provide the Criteria Alternatives Matrix Provides a minimally justified Criteria Alternatives Matrix Provides a well-developed Criteria Alternatives Matrix  
Conclusion/ Recommendations 5% Has no final conclusion/ recommendation section   Has a few issues in the conclusion/ recommendations   Has well-developed conclusion/ recommendations  
Total Points  



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