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So You Want to Write a Policy

Sometimes in the course of your work at Tufts you will run into situations where you think, “We need a new policy.” or “We really need to update this policy.” How do you move from these thoughts to actually developing and implementing a policy? This web page provides some basic advice on how to develop and implement a policy.

Not every problem needs a policy.
Before diving head-first into writing a policy you should understand what policies can and cannot do:

  • Policies are written documents that declare our values, say what we do, or mandate actions or constraints.
  • Policies support consistent, logical, and fair decision making. Policies do not replace decision making.
  • Effective policies provide frameworks, they do not try to account for every detail or situation.
  • Not every problem needs a new policy. Tufts already has a substantial network of bylaws, policies, and procedures that may already address your concern.

If you think an issue still needs to be addressed by a new or updated policy:

  • Conduct a thorough review of Tufts policies and clearly identify the policy gap. Understand how the new or updated policy would fill this gap.
  • Get at least an informal consensus from key stakeholders that a policy needs to be created or updated.
  • Assemble a small working group to draft the new policy or update an existing one. Designate a group leader who will make sure this work gets done and takes the lead on guiding the policy through its development and approval.
  • Ensure that the policy can be followed. Policies should not be entirely asperational, they should be in alignment with what the University can do.
  • Consult the Policy Development Tool (PDF | Word) for guidelines on specific policy development steps and considerations.
  • Consult the Policy Template (PDF | Word) for guidelines on constructing a policy document.
  • Widely distribute a draft of the policy. Give a broad range of stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft policy.
  • Determine who needs to approve the policy. This review and approval process should be commensurate with the scope of the policy. For example, a school-wide policy should be approved by at least the school’s faculty, or dean, or other entity that has the authority to represent the entire school.
  • Finalize the policy once it has gained the necessary approvals.
  • Ensure that the policy is easily accessible to everyone who is affected by the policy. Widely publicize the new or updated policy.

Now you have a new policy, what’s next?

  • Ensure that an office or individual is responsible for managing the policy. Consult the Policy Development Tool (PDF | Word) for more detailed guidelines.
  • Tell people about the policy through a variety of communication channels, such as announcements, trainings, blog posts, newsletter articles, elist messages, and other venues.
  • Establish a review cycle for the policy so that it does not drift into obsolescence. Establish when a policy should be reviewed (annually, bi-annually, etc.) and who should review the policy.
  • Do not delete old versions of policies. It is important to document what a policy said in the past.
  • Most policies document core activities of Tufts offices, departments, schools, and divisions and have enduring archival value. Transfer copies of policies to the Digital Collections and Archives.