At some point during your lifetime you will probably be asked to make policy suggestions as a member of a government agency or large non-governmental organization. In many cases your advice will take the form of a memorandum. The purpose of a memorandum is to convey your ideas as concisely as possible, while still giving adequate background information to back-up your proposals.
In this assignment, imagine yourself as a top bureaucrat in a national or provincial government department. A high-ranking government leader has asked for your opinion regarding a critical policy decision he/she is required to make. You are required to write a four- or five-page (1,000-1,250 words plus references) memorandum (double-spaced) in which you identify the key problem and offer solutions to the dilemma.
Do not include an executive summary. Follow the topic heading guidelines found in Chapter 5 of the textbook and included here in more detail. Make sure you indicate to whom the memo is written, as well as your job title, at the beginning of your memo.
Administration of Justice
To assume the role of an advisor to decision-makers, for example, a senior public official [in the federal, provincial (or possibly, municipal) level of government]. Remember: you are not the decision-maker; your task is to help the decision-makers make an informed decision on the issue on which you have focussed.
To direct your memorandum to a particular minister/agency.
To address one of the particular justice policy or administrative issues or problems identified below.
Choose a SINGLE issue from one of the following areas:
Topic A: The Ombudsman (Unit 7);
Topic B: Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (Unit 8)
As to format, the following is suggested:
State the problem—the intention here is to alert your minister to a real/potential issue/problem. It may be a matter of policy or administration; by definition, such problems have political significance; good officials are always cognizant of such implications, though these are generally not reflected overtly in such memoranda.
Provide a brief background to the problem—the intention here is to bring your minister “up to speed” on the issue/problem, as quickly as possible.
Set out alternative courses of action—the intention here is to list a sufficient range of alternatives (3–5 suggested) for the minister to make an informed and intelligent decision; these may range from doing nothing (non-decisions are often important decisions) to some administrative response, to broader policy or legislative choices. It is important in this portion of the exercise to include a brief discussion of the potential benefits and possible downsides for any/each particular course of action you are suggesting the minister may take, that is, of the implications of each potential action/inaction.
Make recommendation(s)—the intention here is to indicate recommended course(s) of action, based on your (your officials’) assessment of 1, 2, and 3 above. This/these recommendation(s) should include your reasons for making such suggestions.
Consider implementation issues—some thought should be provided as to issues of implementing the proposed course(s) of action, including, where appropriate, on costs.
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