7. Project Topic Specifications

August 18, 2013
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7.         Project Topic Specifications

Students are to complete a policy analysis. The following guidance relates to the selection of a topic.

  •  The project must involve a real agency or organization in a real jurisdiction.
  • The project must respond to a problem that can be related to a policy deficiency – a policy that is incomplete, insufficient, missing, mistaken, unworkable or inappropriate.
  • If the policy exists, it must be precisely identified in the primary memorandum. If it does not exist, the student must identify how the policy would be adopted and codified.
  • The topic of the project must be related to the student’s specialization. The faculty member for the section makes this determination.
  • The memorandum must be addressed to a real official, although the official involved should not be personally named or contacted. For example, a memorandum might be addressed to a county commissioner, city councilor or state legislator without naming the person involved.
  • The student must frame the project in a question that asked by the official involved, and the project should produce a response to the question. The question should be included in the introduction.
  • The analysis must be based on real information or data relating to the agency or organization in the jurisdiction involved.
  • The sources of the information or data must be cited. If the information or data is unpublished, such as information provided based on an interview or information request, the student must make the information available to the faculty member for the section involved.
  • Students may create original information or data by gathering it. For example, the student could conduct interviews or measure distances or rate attributes of locations, or the student could construct estimates of information based on comparable jurisdictions. The primary memorandum must explain how the information is developed.
  • The project must be at a scale that one person with the skills of an MPA student, working alone, could complete in several weeks. For example, the elimination of the national debt or the reversal of global warming are projects out of scale for this assignment. In most cases, projects, issues and programs that are encountered in a local government in a specific agency or local organization are preferable.
  • The student must understand the data and the techniques of analysis involved. For example, comparing methods used to assess the presence of water on Mars would be beyond the capability of most MPA students based on what the student has studied.