Overview and Deadlines
As noted in the American Government course syllabus,
President Warren G. Harding said, "Our most dangerous
tendency is to expect too much of government, and at the same time do for
it too little."
Rather than studying political science and just learning about our
political system, you will participate in government. You will select a
public policy issue that matters to you. It can be a national, statewide,
or local issue which you want a representative in our government to
address. We will use our research and communication skills to make a
difference! Below are the three components of the Government Action
Project (GAP) which we will complete during the course:
GAP Research Summary
Formal letter to a government official
Step #1 -- Identify a
Public Policy Issue
Your first step is to select a public policy issue that you are passionate about.
Think about a cause, an inequity, or a piece of legislation that is
important to you. This is YOUR project, so please select an issue
that really matters to you. For example, if you support the United
States military's mission in Afghanistan, you could write to a Senator on
the Armed Services Committee asking her or him to support funding for the
conflict. Or, if you think casino gambling should be legalized in
Massachusetts, you could write to a Massachusetts legislator explaining
why you support legislation in favor of casino gambling.
Remember...you can think locally, statewide, or nationally.
Regardless of the public policy issue which you select, you must be able
to reference a specific piece of pending legislation or upcoming action by
below are all great sources for you to find lists and information about
various public policy issues.
Government Information (Vanderbilt University website)
(information and links to various public policy issues)
Public Policy Groups (Washington and Lee University list of public
**Make sure you keep a working "work cited" page. You must cite any
statistics, quote, or background information which you gain from a source.
STOP RIGHT NOW
Open Microsoft Word and
create a Work Cited page that you can add to it as you work on the GAP.
Step #2 -- Public
Policy Issue Approval
Once you have determined the public policy issue which will be your focus,
it must be approved. Be prepared to report the following:
1. The public policy issue
2. Why you chose the public policy issue
3. How the public policy issue affects you
4. Your view of the issue
When the topic is approved, you may proceed to step #3.
Step #3 -- Identify
Funding or Action
You now need to focus on your public policy issue. Find out what is
currently happening with the public policy issue. Take GREAT NOTES
and CITE your sources!!! Know your sources. Include quotes,
statistics, and background information about your public policy issue.
Also, make sure you find at least one non-governmental group or
organization which lobbies for or against the issue. What action is
being taken by Congress, at the State House, or in
Ipswich? Below are some guiding questions:
1. What is the pending legislation?
2. Are there any
requests for funding?
3. What lawmakers have made recent comments about the
Below are some links that will help you find any pending legislation in
Washington, D.C. or Beacon Hill.
Library of Congress
Thomas (Site includes legislative information for Congress. You
can search for legislation by typing a word or phrase in the search
section. You can also search for legislation by a specific senator
or representative. This is a GREAT site.)
Massachusetts Senate Bill Search (If you're looking for
legislation pending in the Massachusetts Senate, use this link.)
Massachusetts House of Representatives Bill Search (If
you're looking for legislation pending in the Massachusetts House of
Representatives, use this link.)
Town of Ipswich
(If you're going to focus on a local policy issue, you may find
Step #4 -- GAP Research
Compile your information and complete the GAP Research Summary document.
You must type your information into the form using
Times New Roman 12 Point Font.
To complete the document, follow these instructions:
1. Right click on the GAP Research Summary link below.
2. Select "Save Target As"
3. Save the document to your cube or another location where you will be
able to find it.
4. Read the instructions and type your information into the document.
GAP Research Summary
Step #5 -- Formal
Your polished letter will introduce yourself, make clear why you care
about the issue, identify the issue with supporting information, and
explain the course of action that you would like to see taken by the
office which you are addressing.
United States Senate Page -- Contact a Senator
United States Senate Page -- Committees
United States House of Representatives -- Contact a Member of Congress
United States House of Representatives -- Committees
Massachusetts State Senate
Massachusetts House of Representatives
Massachusetts General Court Committees
Town of Ipswich
Step #6 -- Presentation