Briefing papers government contracts are used to keep government decision-makers informed about their main issues for which they are responsible.

Briefing

Briefings can be in several main forms:

  • Oral briefings
  • Briefing papers
  • Briefing notes (shorter than papers)

The demands on government workers today require that those involved in major decisions be kept up-to-date constantly on changes, requiring them to retain a lot of information about a wide range of issues and topics. The only way to meet these demands and retain the necessary information is to use briefings with reliable, clear, and concise information.

Briefing Note

A briefing note or document is helpful in communicating certain issues in a professional and concise way. The two main purposes of a briefing document are to identify a specific problem and raise awareness among others who can address that issue. A briefing might also include a proposed solution for the issue being presented. A written briefing is often in note form. Briefing notes are shorter, offering an effective and quick way to inform someone about a specific problem to help them make a decision.

When a briefing note is useful, it will simplify complicated facts and details into a well-structured, brief document. The topic or subject of a briefing note is usually something that might be up for debate, such as an issue that needs resolution. Briefing notes can also be used for just about any topic about which someone needs to be informed.

Examples include:

  • Actions
  • Reports
  • Situations
  • Policy matters
  • Any other government issues

The majority of briefing notes are provided to senior-level government officials who are responsible for making decisions. They may also:

  • Not be familiar with the specific issues or have related background information
  • Need a shortened version of the key considerations and points relating to an issue
  • Be responsible to keep track of a long list of unrelated issues
  • Not have time to perform their own research on the topic

The most critical components of briefing documents include:

  • Definition, which will include details about what you will deliver and the planned or potential outcome
  • Actions, or the key tasks that must be completed
  • Explanation of roles, or clarifying the responsibilities of all who are involved in the task
  • Timelines, including any project milestones or deadlines
  • Quality, which details how the project will be measured
  • Specifics, including any other details that need further clarification

Purpose of a Briefing Document

Before you can write an effective briefing document, it's important to understand its purpose. People across a variety of industries and departments use briefing documents as formal methods for addressing issues. A briefing document must not only present issues formally but must bring people together in agreeance that an issue needs attention in order to reach a formal resolution. In order to be effective, briefing documents must identify the main issues in concise ways and propose solutions that would appeal to all involved in the decision-making process.

An effective briefing document should also:

  • Be persuasive
  • Include all issues and potential solutions in a clear way
  • Be brief
  • Offer information in a practical and informative manner

All issues addressed in a briefing document should have evidence to back up the claims. Solutions must be feasible to create an effective document.

Characteristics of a Good Briefing Note

When someone reads a briefing note that has been prepared well, they should be efficiently and quickly filled in on the details of a specific issue. Every good briefing note must be easy to read, concise, and clear.

For success, your briefing notes should be:

  • Clear, direct, simple, and to the point. As you consider what is most important, determine what matters most to the reader.
  • As short as possible (one to two pages at most).
  • Reliable, accurate, dependable, and sound. If your briefing note is missing information or raises questions about the information, it will not be helpful to the reader.
  • Readable, with plain language and a simple design that makes it easy to read. Your design might include subheadings and lists to break up the text. Use fonts that are clear and visible.
  • Concisely written, using every word on the page as efficiently as you possibly can.

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