A policy brief is a concise summary of a particular issue, the policy options, and some recommendations

(Adapted from http://jhunix.hcf.jhu.edu/~ktsai/policybrief.html 17/05/2006)
A policy brief is a concise summary of a particular issue, the policy options to deal with it, and some recommendations on the best option. It is aimed at organizational officials or government policymakers and others who are interested in formulating or influencing policy, either an organizational policy or a governmental policy.
Required components of the policy brief:

Executive Summary:

This should be a short summary (approx. 150 words) of the purpose of the brief and its recommendations—it is like an abstract. It typically appears single-spaced on the cover of a brief or position paper. Please indicate in an additional sentence the audience for whom the brief is intended, e.g., a particular NGO, government agency, legislator/politician, branch of an international organization. Be as specific as possible.
B. Statement of the Issue/Problem:
Phrase the topic as a question that requires a decision. This can be as short as one question. Here are a few examples:

What role can the {any political, social, religious organization of your choice} play in enhancing the {political/economic/social} status of {any disadvantaged group of your

choice}?

Should {any organization/government of your choice} provide humanitarian assistance

to people in the {any war zone/natural disaster situation of your choice}?

How should {any country or region of your choice} respond to the investment interest

of {any multinational corporation or financial institution of your choice}?

Who should take the responsibility for {fixing any development problem of your choice}?

When should {any country/organization of your choice} decide to intervene in {any development problem/crisis of your choice}?

C. Background (of the problem):
Include only the essential facts that a decision maker “needs to know” to understand the context of the problem. Assume that you have been hired to filter through tons of information on behalf of a very busy and sleep-deprived person. Be clear, precise, and to the point.
D. Statement of your organization’s (the organization that you are pretending to represent) interests in the issue:
This is meant to remind the reader of why the issue matters for the country/group/organization that you are advising. If, for example, you were the National Security Advisor for the UAE, then it would be appropriate to review the UAE’s economic, or humanitarian interest in the problem at hand.
E. Pre-existing Policies:
This summarizes what has been done (by others and the entity that you represent) about the problem thus far. Depending on your topic, some of the information may have already been presented in #3 (e.g., perhaps the problem itself stems from some other country or organization’s intervention). The objective of this section is to inform the reader of policy options that have already been pursued, if any. Note that the absence of action may be considered a policy
decision.
F. Policy Options:
This section delineates the possible courses of action or inaction that your organization may pursue. Please provide the decision maker with at least three potential courses of action. Some of them may be wildly unrealistic in your opinion, but please pose them as policy options, nonetheless. At the same time, it would not be prudent to overwhelm the decision maker with too many choices. I would cap the menu of options at five choices.
G. Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Policy Option:
Write this section from the perspective of the entity that you represent. For clarity, you may present the pros and cons of the options in bullet points or outline format. This may seem like stacking the deck since some options may have only one advantage and several downsides, but it isn’t always that obvious. For instance, one measly advantage may conform most fully with the interests of the organization summarized in #4. It is up to you to advise the decision maker if it is worth it.
H. Your Recommendation:
After prioritizing the relative pros and cons of the above options, please recommend one option. Yes, this may require going out on a limb on an extremely complex issue that challenges your ethical instincts. But if you have agreed to advise a particular country/organization/person, then you will be asked to make a recommendation on their behalf.

Sources Consulted or Recommended: This is essentially an annotated bibliography in the event that the decision maker has the interest and time to read up on a specific issue. Please provide a one to three sentence description and evaluation of each source listed in this section. Aside from standard books and articles, on-line sources and personal interviews may be cited.

All the best wishes for you all,

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