example of policy brief
Defining the Problem
Space exploration has been limited since the moon landing to space station visits and the
deployment of the Hubble telescope and satellites (2015). In 2012, President Obama signed into
law H.R. 312, “The Mars Exploration Act” (2012). This bill provides funding for the
development and deployment of: 1) the “rovers”; 2) deep space transportation for humans; and 3)
laboratory and housing facilities on Mars (Robinson & Smith, 2012).
Biblical guidelines: Of course, the Bible says nothing about space exploration. Government is
charged primarily with protecting the inalienable rights of its citizens (Fischer). HR 312 does
not violate these rights. The Biblical notion of “sphere sovereignty” implies that there are other
spheres of society, such as non-profits and industry, which might be considered as participants in
space exploration (Monsma, 2008). In the past, space exploration has been linked to national
defense, for fear that other nations would gain the upper-hand in space and use that advantage
against American citizens (Neuhaus, 2012). Since government has a divine mandate to protect
its citizens, space exploration might be supported.
Constitutional guidelines: The “common defense” portion of the preamble supports passage of
this bill. Article 1 section 8 provides further points of support: the promotion of science and
progress, the development of a sound military, and the regulation of commerce with foreign
Political Feasibility: Generally, the public favors further mars exploration and colonization
(Smith, 2014). The passage of the bill was largely bi-partisan, but a significant Republican
minority tried to block passage arguing that the funding was not present for the bill and that the
H.R. 312 3
President was merely doing this to distract from criticism of his health care legislation and other
scandals (Neuhaus, 2012). Since passage, some experts have argued that Mars colonization is
not obtainable as NASA is currently constructed and has argued for either repeal of HR 312 or
significant modification (Richards, 2015).
Financial feasibility: Total cost of the bill was estimated at $20.5 billion, according to the
Congressional Budget Office (“H.R. 312”). At the time of passage, Democrats and Republicans
were grappling with the debt ceiling crisis (Barnes, 2011).
Practical feasibility: The bill was set up to fund NASA efforts for Mars exploration over 20
years. The major challenge was the development of sufficiently fast and safe space travel for
humans (Geyer, 2012). Rovers have been sent to Mars, so, in effect, Phase 1 has been achieved.
Significant challenges exist for phases 2 and 3, however, as NASA grapples with developing the
proper technology for long-term space exploration and colonization (Richards, 2015).
HR 312 passes the May portion of the analysis, with the caveat that government should allow for
business and non-profit participation. The Can portion of the analysis is more challenging,
simply because of current levels of deficit spending in the federal government as well as the
technological challenges. Nevertheless, HR 312 represents a legitimate area for government
involvement. Space exploration, if not simply for the sake of military defense, should continue
and thus government must be involved. We are not able to choose ideal times for something as
lofty and abstract as space exploration; yet it must remain a national priority.
H.R. 312 4
Barnes, A. (2011). The Debt ceiling crisis. National Review Online. Retrieved from
Fischer, K. Biblical principles of government [PDF document]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes
Online website: https://learn.liberty.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-6267706-dt-content-rid
For Modules/Weeks 3–7, you are expected to submit a 1 1/2–2-page paper (not including the title page, abstract, and reference page) in current APA format in which the May-Can-Should model is applied in the context of the policy focus in the assigned module/week. Be certain to emphasize a focused analysis of a particular issue chosen from the broader policy concentration for the assigned module/week. You must include citations from:
Students often struggle with keeping the analysis needed for these policy briefs to just 2 pages of content at most (not counting the title page and references), and it can be hard to see past one’s choice of wording to discover that there are indeed many ways to say the same thing with less words. Attached are “before and after” samples of the same policy brief; the first was too long and includes edits of how to shorten it, and the second shows the finished product at 2 pages. Review these before writing your first policy brief.
NOTE: the sample briefs are not perfect in every respect in terms of following the “May-Can-Should” analysis. It is mean to show you how to be more concise in communicating ideas.