The paper should be properly cited with either footnotes or end notes and a bibliography.
I. Cover Material
A. Letter of Transmittal
Is the letter addressed to all the relevant decision makers? Does it indicate who is to take action, and when? Does it list all the attached materials?
B. Executive Summary
Does the executive summary describe all the elements of the position paper? Does it describe those elements in a way that will be understood by all it is addressed to? (Do not assume that everyone knows what an AWACS is–avoid jargon as much as possible.) Is the summary concise? Is (are) your recommendation(s) clearly spelled out?
II. Problem History
A. Paper should include an analysis of the background and underlying facts of the issue, as well as a discussion of the policy choices available to the decision makers, and recommendations as to the best policy to pursue.
Is the problem adequately explained in terms of where it came from and what led to the problem to place it in context for the decision maker? Are prior efforts to resolve the problem listed and evaluated? Is the significance of the problem pointed out?
B. Current Status of the Problem
This element relies heavily upon the proper completion of element II A. If that element has been properly developed, you should now be asking the following types of questions. Is the current status of the problem clearly indicated? Have the people currently dealing with the problem–and those that should be currently dealing with the problem–been properly identified?
C. Importance of the Problem
What will happen if the problem is left alone? Why is it important for policy makers to consider the problem?
III. Problem Definition
A. Statement of the Problem
Is the problem clearly defined, using relevant data? (For example, if the problem is the inability of a university to play competitive football because of the number of players ruled ineligible under Proposition 48, have you stated the number of players involved?) Are the cultural or political aspects of the problem included in the definition?
B. Statement of Methodology Used in Analysis
Are the methodologies used in the analysis clearly identified, along with the rational for selecting those? (For example: “Input-output analysis was utilized to account for the resources that would be required for a given alternative.”)
C. Identification of Actors Involved
Are the major stakeholders involved in the problem clearly identified, along with their values and priorities? Are potential players identified, and their possible impact included in the analysis?
D. Impact of the Problem
Is the influence of the problem on current, related policy areas explained? Are the potential consequences of the problem developed?
IV. Alternative Solutions/Policies
A. Listing of the Alternatives Considered
Is the list of alternatives complete? Is there an explanation as to why some alternatives were chosen for further analysis while others were not?
B. Comparison of Alternatives
Are possible alternatives compared in terms of their benefits and costs? Are spillover effects identified and factored into the analysis? Are qualitative elements included with quantitative elements?
C. Constraints, Including Political
Are all relevant constraints in terms of technical (state-of-the-art, cost, etc.) taken into account? Has political feasibility and impact been considered?
A. Description of Policy Recommendation(s)
Are all relevant criteria for selecting among alternatives identified? Is the preferred alternative presented clearly?
B. Rationale for Recommendation(s)
Is adequate justification provided for the selection being made? Does that justification include political, as well as technical aspects?
C. Plan for Implementation
Are responsibility centers identified? Is the implementation strategy clearly presented? (A Plan Activity Diagram [PAD] or something similar may be useful here.)
D. Provisions for Monitoring/Evaluation
Does the implementation plan include provisions for monitoring program implementation and for process and impact evaluation? Are unintended consequences provided for?
VI. End Material A. References
References in a position paper should normally be brief, using the author-date (APA) format (for example: Argyle, 1986, p. 12). A bibliography would normally include only those items actually cited in the text.
Is relevant supporting material presented in a clear manner? Is the source of all material identified?