the professional staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Imagine that you have recently joined the professional staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The staff director has selected you to serve as the designated staff support to a particular member of the SSCI. The Senator (Senator Barbara A. Mikulski) is considering potential areas for reform of intelligence management and oversight. In your initial meeting, she asks you, based on your own prior knowledge, experience and study to identify and explain in 2-3 single space, one significant organizational management or oversight problem or issue facing IC leadership worthy of her attention.
One page. A briefing paper is intended for a senior official who does not have time to read the “great American novel.” A briefing paper should be as succinct as possible, typewritten, in Times New Roman font that is no smaller than size 12, or Arial font, no smaller than size 11.
o Long briefing papers tend not to be read, with consequent detrimental impact on the message.
Findings and conclusions up front. A busy executive wants to know the conclusions and recommendations more than the process and the detail. So put the findings and conclusions at the beginning of the paper.
Briefing paper format. This format allows the eye to quickly discern the major points and the supporting information. Supporting information is in bulleted paragraphs following the main topic paragraph.
o You may use HEADINGS, underlined text, italics, bolding, different fonts, and color as you see fit. (Note: color works well with originally printed material but is lost in photocopying, and therefore should be used with caution.)
o These instructions appear in an acceptable briefing paper format.
Append back-up materials. Additional explanatory information can be appended to a briefing paper. This, however, is not required.
o If a topic requires a detailed explanation of how a conclusion was reached, this explanation is best put at a tab. In the briefing paper note at the end of the relevant paragraph that there is more detail, for example: (Tab A).
o Tabs should also be as brief as possible. One page is ideal; two is acceptable. Ten pages are ridiculous.
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