Insight from Mike Firestone, Chief of Policy and Strategic Planning, office of Mayor Michelle Wu, City of Boston

Mike Firestone

In your opinion, what are one or two key elements of strong policy writing?

My preference is for a succinct, two page (or so) memo that focuses on the key recommendations or decisions needed, including a very clear statement as to why the policy is needed and timely. The memo should always include a concise background on the issue, and detail the next steps if the recommendation/s are adopted. 

If you were to give advice to a student or rising policy analyst, what would you say are the best practices of policy writing?

I generally like to see supportive materials, key reports, newspaper articles, etc. attached with the memo, but not provided in place of the memo. I don't generally prefer powerpoint slides or decks, but I know that others do.

I like to think of the 2-4 questions that a decision-make would most likely ask in response to the proposal and make sure that the answers to those questions are included in the memo.