Below is the first policy memo I wrote for school, in which I was one of few students who got full credit despite all impeding circumstances. Let's just say that I was trying to be a good student and get an early start on the assignment when I was in New Jersey for Labor Day, but then I promptly left the assignment there. After it was faxed from my aunt and uncle's house to New Jersey to my parents' house in California, it was emailed to me so I could cram in my assignment about 2 hours before it was due. Oops...
Also, for those who don't know, I am currently in a Masters of Public Policy Program, which will make me an expert in policy analysis and program evaluation. For our first assignment in our "Introduction to Public Policy" class, we were asked to advise a hypothetical mayor about how much money she should budget for snow in the upcoming year based on the data given to us in class. I won't post the data because it is boringggg, but you will get the picture from reading the memo.
September 7, 2011
To: Susan Reilley, Mayor of Snoweville
From: Allison Primack, Policy Analyst
Subject: Snow Removal Budget 2011-2012
This memo is in response to your request for advice regarding Snoweville’s snow removal budget for this winter. After analyzing the frequency of snowstorms over the past 20 years and the adjusted costs of removing snow after these storms, I believe the city should expect 2 snowstorms for winter 2011-2012, and allocate $2.5 million to the snow removal fund.
Unfortunately for our purposes, there has been no predictable trend of the number of snowstorms per year over the past 20 years. Examination of the data shows that the number of storms between 1991 and 2010 experienced in Snoweville has been anywhere between 1 and 6 storms in a given winter. While the average (mean) is 3 storms per year, the median is only 2 storms per year. This means that half of the years in the sample set experienced 2 or fewer storms, and the other half experienced 2 or more storms. The average is skewed up to 3 storms because in 4 random years there were 6 storms. However, with 55% of the years experiencing 1 or 2 storms, it is reasonable to predict that Snoweville will experience 2 or fewer storms in winter of 2011-2012.
Because budgeting is a public issue, and because we are in a recession, I recognize that it is one of your priorities to be as correct as possible in budgeting for snow removal this winter. After adjusting the costs of each storm for inflation to the value of 2011 dollars, it has cost approximately $1 million to clear the snow per storm. Through this reasoning, it would be plausible to assume that $2 million would be sufficient to put aside for the snow removal fund. Instead, I propose that $2.5 million should be given to this budget. This way, in case there is an extra storm there will be funds to start with the clean up without taking a large sum from the budget of other expenditures. Additionally, I recommend that if there is any excess funds in the snow removal budget for winter 2011-2012 it should roll over and be added into the $2.5 million allotted for winter 2012-2013 (and every year following) so that there will be enough funds to pay for the larger storm years without needing to change the budget for snow removal every year. Public opinion polls show that approval ratings drop when predictions are incorrect, so it is safer to have money saved so the high volume snow can be taken care of with ease. This rollover should accumulate relatively quickly because in the data set the probability of having only 1 storm was the highest.
It is hard to strike a balance in this situation, since the number of snowstorms in a given year is so unpredictable. However, by allotting enough money for 2.5 storms Snoweville will most likely be able to cover all snow removal costs with some room for error while not over-budgeting and upsetting the public. By allowing the excess funds in this account to roll over into future snow removal budgets, there will be enough money in future years to clean up extra storms without drastically changing the budget.