policy proposal


How to Write a Policy Proposal

Pages:8 (2422 words)


Topic:Policy Proposal

Document Type:Writing Guide



A policy proposal may be one of the most important documents you can write in your academic or professional career. Policy proposals can be about any issue pertinent to society, from criminal justice to healthcare You will most certainly learn how to write a policy proposal for a directly relevant course such as political science, but there are an infinite number of reasons why you may have stumbled upon this article today.

Policy proposals are important for many different areas, including economics, social work, law and foreign affairs. There are many fields in which policy proposals are used, without you even realizing it. For example, artists and musicians sometimes need to become involved in public policy in order to create new pathways for funding or for stimulating interest in public art. 

Therefore, learning how to write a policy proposal will benefit you tremendously no matter what your line of work or what you are studying in school. Public policy is what drives our society. Now it is your opportunity to become an agent of change. Through your policy proposal, you will learn how to analyze a pressing issue of public concern and come up with implementable solutions you can bring to the table. Are you ready to make a difference in the world?

What You Will Learn in This Tutorial

While far from being exhaustive, this article gives you all the fundamentals you need to write a policy proposal. Especially relevant for school coursework, this article will help guide you towards the best policy proposal for your needs. You can expect the following:

• How to come up with good ideas for a policy proposal

• How to format a policy proposal the right way

• How to brainstorm creative solutions to a problem

• How to frame your proposal in a way that persuades your reader to take action

• How to edit and revise your policy proposal

• How to write using formal language

What Is a Policy Proposal?

To understand what a policy proposal is, first let’s talk about what a policy is to begin with. A policy is similar to a law or a regulation. It can be defined as a formal procedure or course of action adopted by an organization such as a business or a government.

Whether you realize it or not, you are living with and under many policies. Some of those policies are specific to your school or workplace Examples may include a policy against discrimination or a policy regarding how to handle bullying. Other policies, known as public policies, are more relevant to government. Society is practically defined by public policies that formalize the social contracts we use to create law and order.

For example, there will be public policies related to healthcare, education, and of course, foreign policy.

A policy proposal precedes an actual policy.

Whether you are talking about a private organization or a public service agency like a government, a policy starts with a proposal that outlines the problem and the proposed solutions.

Some policy proposals are designed to amend an existing policy to make it more relevant and up to date.

Other policy proposals start from scratch, addressing a major area of concern such as police reform.

how to write a policy proposal

How to Write a Policy Proposal

Writing a policy proposal can seem daunting, especially during the early stages when you are staring at a blank page. That’s why we put together this article—so you can write a policy proposal properly without any of the stress or worry. Everyone has a hard time getting started on writing a policy proposal, even the pros. So take a step back and relax into the process.

Step 1: Decide What Issue To Write About

A policy proposal must be about a way to solve a problem you have identified.  At this stage, you can brainstorm ideas by allowing yourself to freely write down all the issues that are important to you. If your policy proposal is for a certain class, that may help you narrow down your ideas. For instance, if you are asked to write a policy proposal for a psychology class, you may want to propose a policy for reforming access to mental health care.

If you Ideally, you will quantify that problem using statistics or facts. When you decide what issue to write about, be as specific as possible. The best policy proposals are ones that clearly explain the problem and then show how and why specific methods will alleviate that problem.

Things to think about include:

• What population will be most affected by this policy (or would be affected if this policy is not put into action)

• What is the problem, and why is it a problem? Why should people care?

• How do your ideas help resolve the problem?

• How do you intend to measure the effectiveness of the policy?

Step 2: Outline the Policy Proposal

Now take the next step towards writing the policy proposal by organizing your thoughts. The best way to do this is to break down your ideas into sections accordingly as follows:

• Define and explain the problem, showing why it is important enough to take action. 

• Explain why current policies do not work.

• Propose a policy that directly addresses the problem, showing why the policy would help. If possible, cite examples of similar policies that work in other areas and provide support and justification.

• Discuss the methods of assessing and evaluating the results of the proposed policy.

• Discuss the means of implementing the policy, with timeline and budget if possible.

• Build in alternatives or options for flexible implementation to allow the audience to take part in the discussion.

Step 3: Write the Policy Proposal

Believe it or not, actually writing the policy proposal is easy once you have gone through Step 1 and Step 2. Keep in mind the use of formal language in your policy proposal. Remember your audience, and use appropriate language and jargon. If you need to get technical, make sure you explain everything so that the reader understands.

Gather all the facts and data you can to support your policy. Use facts and statistics and cite your sources properly. Find examples of similar policies and draw from them, referencing them if you can.

Anticipate objections to your policy proposal and address those concerns in the policy proposal.

Re-read your first draft, make changes, and then give it to a writing tutor or colleague for review before finalizing the policy proposal, formatting it appropriately, and turning it in.

Policy Proposal Format

Policy proposals come in many sizes and forms, so the most important thing for you to do is to ask your teacher or supervisor for the formatting guidelines. There are some online templates you can use for policy proposals but your audience may have a specific format they prefer.

You will also find a policy proposal template later in this article.

Generally speaking, a policy proposal consists of the following main sections:

• Executive Summary/Abstract

• Background

• Problem statement

• Description of proposed policy

• How to implement the policy, including who will be in charge of administering it

• How to evaluate the policy’s effectiveness using metrics

• Suggestions and alternatives

Additional information in a policy proposal will include data such as:

• Identification of stakeholder groups

• Statistics that reveal the extent and severity of the problem

• Statistics that show how similar policies work in other areas or jurisdictions

• Budgets

• Timelines/schedules

• Case studies

You may also choose to include a table of contents for a longer policy proposal, as well as a separate title page and list of references.

Policy Proposal Template

Title of Policy (be direct, such as “A Proposal for a Policy to Address Sexual Harassment in Acme Company)

Author (you or your team/department)

Audience (be as specific as possible)

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Background Information

Use an anecdote or case study to illustrate the issue

Lead up to the problem statement by calling attention to an issue that affects all stakeholder groups

Show why existing policies or procedures remain inadequate

Use numbers to back up statements, appealing to the audience’s primary concerns such as financial loss or humanitarian concern

Problem Statement

Use statistics when possible, such as “75% of Americans lack access to affordable healthcare, resulting in $1 billion worth of preventable illnesses and unnecessary emergency room visits.”

List primary stakeholder groups

Demonstrate why action is necessary now; create a sense of urgency

Specifics of the Policy

Outline the new procedure for addressing the problem (of sexual harassment, lack of support for veterans, etc).

Address multiple contingencies

State which department or agency will oversee the implementation of the policy, and enforce its rules and regulations

How to assess the effectiveness of the policy

Suggestions for Implementation

Suggested timeline

Suggested budget

Suggested parties/agencies for policy administration

Suggested methods for assessment

Alternatives and Caveats

Include the means by which to engage in dialogue to create an ideal and implementable policy

Conclusion and Call to Action

Appendices and Additional Data


Policy Proposal Example

Policy on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Proposal from Human Resources to Senior Management

Executive Summary

Last year alone, Acme Corporation lost seventeen employees—top talent—due to factors related to sexual harassment. The company’s existing policy on sexual harassment fails to provide the means by which grievances can be effectively dealt with. The loss of top talent is one of the reasons why Acme has begun to fall behind the competition. A new sexual harassment policy is necessary for Acme Corporation if the company hopes to remain competitive in the coming years. The proposed policy contains the following main elements: preserving anonymity and confidentiality in reporting instances of a hostile work environment, hiring and other human resources practices, and conflict resolution. A timeline and implementation strategy are included, as are the means by which to assess the effectiveness of the policy on improving Acme Corporation’s market position.

Problem Statement

Last year alone, the Acme Corporation said goodbye to seventeen members of the organization. Almost all of those individuals went on to work for competitors. Three of those individuals filed lawsuits against the Acme Corporation unsuccessfully because of the lack of support the organization provides to individuals who experience impediments to their work from harassment or a hostile work environment. While the current method of addressing sexual harassment claims seems to preserve the status quo among the organization’s senior leadership, seemingly eliminating annoyances, Acme can no longer afford to brush this problem under the rug.

The loss of top talent has affected Acme’s performance and market share. Competitors have encroached on Acme’s position by creating organizational cultures that are supportive of diversity. Our quarterly losses have totaled more than $7 million over the course of the past several years. While sexual harassment and organizational culture are not singular causes for this decline in our overall performance, these are issues that we can easily control. Therefore, the proposed sexual harassment policy will benefit all Acme employees for years to come.

Proposed Policy on Sexual Harassment

The proposed sexual harassment policy for Acme Corporation includes three main components: ongoing dialogue, systematic reporting, and dispute resolution

Creating Opportunities for Ongoing Dialogue

Interdepartmental dialogue and intra-departmental dialogue will not occur naturalistically. Instead, Acme needs a schedule of formal meetings in which dialogue can occur in order to identify the subtle forms of harassment such as micro-aggressions that create a hostile work environment. The difference between perception and reality will be discussed, and speakers from other organizations who have successfully navigated the tricky terrain of organizational culture change will also promote dialogue and discussion among team members and especially team leaders.

Systematic Reporting

Dialogue also warrants a formalized means by which affected employees discuss their perceptions of the workplace environment and culture. Employees will have an anonymous means by which to report instances of perceived hostility or harassment. When a formal complaint has been filed, there will be a multi-stage process leading to dispute resolution.

The first stage in systematic reporting will be for the grievance to be aired, either anonymously through the system or in person with a human resources specialist. 

The second stage of systematic reporting involves a process of mediation during which the issue is discussed among all affected parties regardless of their statuses, ranks, or titles. 

The third stage of systematic reporting ensues only if the second stage yields no acceptable result or resolution, and involves the filing of a formal dispute.

Dispute Resolution

When an issue arises and is escalated to a formal dispute, a third party consulting team is called in to address the issue. The cost of third party dispute resolution should serve as an adequate deterrent to any Acme leaders who wish to avoid confrontation by pulling rank. This new policy ensures that all Acme employees, no matter what their position, role, or title, participates in the creation of a safe and supportive workplace environment in which all employees can thrive.

Non-Compliance Penalties

This sexual harassment policy includes provisions for non-compliance, outlining formal means by which disputes are handled with or without legal action.

Assessment and Evaluation of Policy

The human resources department assumes responsibility for monitoring and maintaining the sexual harassment policy for Acme Corporation. A new position has been created to allow for effective and efficient dispute resolution. 


This proposed sexual harassment policy will save the Acme Corporation substantial amounts of money wasted on loss of productivity, absenteeism, reduced innovation, public relations and reputation damage, and legal fees. The proposed policy will help Acme attract and retain top talent, which will invariably boost the company’s standing and ensure long term success.


This article is just the beginning of your journey towards writing effective policy proposals that get you the attention and results you deserve. If you need help, such as writing tutorials or editorial services, you can improve your policy proposal paper even more. The next time you feel stuck at any stage in the writing process, remember that you are not alone. Everyone struggles with their writing, and sometimes all it takes is returning to the basics and simplifying the process of writing a policy proposal or any other formal document. 

A policy proposal is one of the most useful pieces of writing you will do. Familiarize yourself with the format and template provided in this article so that you can impress your audience and improve your confidence. With any luck, your policy proposal will actually be implemented, making you a real change agent. What are you waiting for?

Cite this Document

Join thousands of other students and

"spark your studies".