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How to write CDIs and briefing notes Ken Rasmussen Faculty of Administration January 7 th 2004.

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Presentation on theme: "How to write CDIs and briefing notes Ken Rasmussen Faculty of Administration January 7 th 2004."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to write CDIs and briefing notes Ken Rasmussen Faculty of Administration January 7 th 2004

2 Typically three sections Ministerial Recommendation Analysis Section Communications Plan

3 Components of Memorandum to Cabinet MINISTERIAL RECOMMENDATION(MR) 3 pp. max Issue One sentence summation of the question to be discussed and resolved by the ministers Recommendation(s)Proposed course of action, usually derived from series of options, for which sponsoring minister is seeking support RationaleSponsoring minister’s principal arguments supporting the recommendation(s)

4 Components of Memorandum to Cabinet Problems and StrategiesSuccinct description of (1) possible adverse consequences to the Government and criticism it might face should recommendation(s) be implemented (2) best means of handling of them Political ConsiderationsDescription of principal political issues connected with the recommended course of action Departmental PositionsPositions for and against taken by concerned departments with respect to recommended course of action

5 Components of Memorandum to Cabinet ANALYSIS SECTION Usually 2-6, rarely 15 pp. BackgroundBrief review of the major developments that led the sponsoring Minister to bring the issue forward for decision ConsiderationsDescription of the non-financial factors considered when drafting the options OptionsThorough and balanced exploration of the pros and cons of each of the possible courses of action before Ministers and of the relevant financial information for each

6 Considerations in the Memorandum to Cabinet Considerations in the Memorandum to Cabinet Possible adverse consequences: uperceived inequities uexcessive expectations ucreation of new problems ucriticisms that the option does not go far enough uopposition from a sector of the population ubacklash if the proposal fails uperceptions of waste or overspending uperceptions of restrictions to basic freedoms ucriticism about duplication

7 Components of Memorandum to Cabinet Financial Information in the MC Provide Ministers with an understanding of the financial dimensions of what it is they are being asked to approve; emphasis on preferred option State all future financial implications fully and clearly Use the best information available. Characterize the relative reliability of estimates (e.g. fully costed, best guess) Include present costs, incremental costs, personnel costs Show source of funds if reallocations within existing reference levels proposed

8 Components of Memorandum to Cabinet COMMUNICATIONS PLAN Explains how the minister intends to present and explain a decision to the public in both the short and longer term Properly planned communications crucial to success of any policy initiative Key Elements 1. Communications Analysis 2. Communications Tactics

9 Components of Memorandum to Cabinet COMMUNICATIONS ANALYSIS Public EnvironmentSuccinct but comprehensive description of likely reactions to proposal and why Summarise current public perceptions and sensitivities on issue and identify national and regional patterns Start with 1-2 paragraph summary of historical record, including recent developments Issues ManagementIdentify two or three most contentious issues, and indicate how these can be managed

10 Components of Memorandum to Cabinet Target AudiencesIdentify priority target audiences and major stakeholder groups, both inside and outside the government Identify position of each group with respect to recommended policy Identify communications vehicle matching needs of each group PositioningIdentify briefly the primary and secondary links between the proposed policy and the government’s corporate priorities and strategies

11 Components of Memorandum to Cabinet Communications Objectives State briefly and precisely what will be achieved by communicating the message(s) e.g. Inform interested publics Achieve public understanding Stimulate public discussion Facilitate implementation Respond to public criticism, uncertainty MessagesIdentify the essential idea or set of ideas to be communicated about the decision Include those which link the policy to broader policy and/or which integrate with appropriate corporate messages

12 Components of Memorandum to Cabinet COMMUNICATIONS TACTICS Strategic ConsiderationsOutline best approach (high/low profile; state/regional) based on public environment Identify communications opportunities e.g Interest group support Identify communications impediments e.g. Media hostility Public indifference Identify strategies to overcome obstacles Identify advance work requirements

13 Components of Memorandum to Cabinet COMMUNICATIONS TACTICS Briefings to Members of ParliamentOutline strategy for briefing members Follow-up ActivitiesDescribe long term media strategy and work- plan for follow up Describe how public reaction will be monitored BudgetIdentify funding and human resource requirements Evaluation CriteriaIdentify methodsfor evaluating success of media strategy

14 Components of Memorandum to Cabinet COMMUNICATIONS TACTICS Inter-ministry Co-ordinationList ministries consulted and describe roles each will play Announcement Harmonise short and long term announcement strategies strategies as to: ideal timing format (e.g. minister’s speech) media strategy for announcement role of other internal and external actors Minister’s involvementAssess minister’s role in announcement process Outline public perception of minister in relation to policy

15 Key Considerations in Drafting Corporate Policy-Making Documents Advocacy for decision-making is key Ministers use the MC to describe a particular policy context outline the problem associated with the current situation recommend solutions convince colleagues to adopt recommendation Stress relevance Provide only information that Ministers (not officials or analysts) require key information, as dictated by constraints on ministerial time true and plain disclosure of issue, with distinct options, objectively and systematically evaluated

16 The Briefing Note A briefing note is a management information tool. Managers work in a ‘ volume ’ capacity. Held directly accountable for decisions with little regard for workload. Middle managers at any given time could have 15 + briefing notes under construction/review. Senior management can double, triple or quadruple this number.

17 The Briefing Note, continued A briefing note is a concise representation of the facts regarding an issue. It is critical that these facts capture all the salient information for decision making. If the wrong decision is made (functionally or politically) because of a lack of information ………

18 The Briefing Note, continued Writing a briefing note is an art for several reasons. It is a public document - internally and externally. FOIPOP - Freedom of Information - Protection of Privacy Act. It can/will be read by others. You are condensing complex issues into brief format, e.g., words or two- three pages. You are accountable for its content.

19 The Structure of a Briefing Note Header: For whom is the note intended? Most officials expect their name and title at the top. Regarding: One line. What is the issue being advanced for decision making? Background: What led up to the need to discuss this issue? Issue: What is the real problem? What is the objective? Analysis: What do we know about the problem? Recommendation: What would constitute a solution? These are the parts that make up the body of the Note.

20 Elements of the Briefing Note Put in the form of question to give focus Specify the reasons for the note What is the status of …..? What is Agency X’s involvement in..? Reflect the nature of the request is applicable The note was requested by Person X in the Minister’s office. Provide only recently developed information answering question posed in Issue Ensure clarity and brevity Issue Current Status

21 Elements of the Briefing Note Options if: (1) the note is being written in order to get concurrence with a recommended course of action (2) next steps have not been decided Considerations if: necessary to outline contentious aspects of issue -include reactions from other parties/stakeholders proposed course of action Provide if : (1) next steps are not clear (2) approval to proceed is required Next Steps What is the department going to next, if anything? What are other parties/stakeholders planning to do next? Options/ Considerations Options/ Considerations Recommendations

22 Elements of the Briefing Note Provide details to the information provided in the current status section Provide a history, if necessary, on the issue itself Keep to a maximum of 2 pages Identify the name and contact information for the person best able to address questions about the issue Background Submitted By

23 Critical Steps in Policy Analysis Components of the Briefing Note Confirm, Define, & Detail the Problem Identify Alternatives Present and Assess Alternatives Using Evaluation Criteria Recommend Preferred Alternative Implement Preferred Alternative Monitor The Implemented Alternative Evaluate Policy Results Issue Current Status Options/Considerations Recommendation(s)/ Next Steps Background

24 Steps in the Policy Design Process Identify Need or opportunity Articulate Clear and simple vision of the preferred future ClarifyCommitment in terms of the mission Clear statement of policy in the form of goals/objectives Choose Instrument(s) DevelopImplementation Strategy MonitorOutcomes EvaluateResults Establish

25 Drafting the Corporate Policy Documents: A Practical Style Guide Use plain, everyday language Use short sentences and paragraphs Use point form wherever appropriate Avoid technical terms, jargon, or unfamiliar acronyms Be concise, stick to key points, avoid digressions Build arguments step-by-step Rework every sentence until every word counts Ruthlessly cut back, reread your draft, cut back again Ask a colleague unfamiliar with the subject to read your final draft


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