All teams selected as semifinalists and wishing to be considered for the national finals will have two days after notification to confirm that they will continue in the competition. If any of the selected semifinalists decline to participate, other teams will be selected from a waiting list based on scores in the first round. See below for additional details.
Here are the procedures for the semifinal round of competition in 2017.
Deadline: All memos must be received by no later than 11:59 PM U.S. Eastern Time on Monday, February 13, 2017. Additional instructions will be sent directly to the participating teams after they pay the submission fee. Submissions are welcome in advance of the deadline.
Submission fee: There will be a $110 non-refundable fee for each semifinal submission. The fee must be paid by 11:59 PM Friday, February 3, 2017. The fee payment must be made by credit card via PayPal. Policy Solutions Challenge USA will send additional instructions to each team regarding how to complete payment. Failure to make payment may result in the team being dropped from further competition and another team on the waiting list may be offered the opportunity to compete.
Policy memo requirements:Each team will submit a ten page memo that offers a structured problem definition, presents up to three policy options (at the discretion of the team), forecasts how the combination of those options will increase the supply of affordable housing units over the ten years 2018-2027, uses cost estimates to offer a final cost-effectiveness analysis (estimate of the cost in dollars of the combination of policies per additional affordable housing unit), and offers any additional analysis the team wishes within the page limit. The memo must have one inch margins all around and use Times New Roman 12 pt font. The memo may be single-spaced but there must be a blank line between paragraphs. All figures, graphs, tables and charts are included in the ten page limit, but references should be appended at the back as end notes after the ten pages. Do not use footnotes for references and do not use end notes for any other purpose than references. The memo must have a cover page identifying the team; otherwise, team identification should NOT be included in the body of the memo. This is to allow for blind review of the memos so that team affiliation does not influence the judging.
Selection of finalists: Up to six submissions will be chosen by a panel of experts as finalists from among the twelve semifinalists (including teams drawn from the wait list if necessary). Notification of the finalists is planned for Monday, March 6, 2017. The other semifinalists will be placed on a waiting list should any of the finalists decline to continue in the competition.
Publication of submissions: All submissions eventually will be posted on this website for public consumption.
Copyright and fair use: Teams will retain copyright of their memos, but must sign a fair use form that grants Policy Solutions Challenge USA to post the memos on this website.
Judging Procedures and Criteria
Expert judges from policy analysis organizations will review the semifinal submissions, and may not necessarily have been involved in the first round of judging. Review will be blind - the judges will receive the memos without their cover pages, and will not know the identities of the teams. Each submission will receive multiple scores, and the aggregate scores will determine which six become finalists. Policy Solutions Challenge USA will provide feedback to the teams that includes scores and comments from the judges.
The criteria used by the judges will include the following, equally weighted:
Quality of the problem definition - has the team developed a strong problem definition that clarifies the issues and structures the policy analysis?
Analytical quality of the policy policy proposals - are the proposals well-designed, coherently constructed, coordinated, and sound in their claims about the potential positive impact on the problem of affordable housing? (Note: Considerations of political viability again will not be included here.)
Quality of the final cost-effectiveness estimate - is the estimate credible, transparent, based on reasonable assumptions, and professionally calculated?
Quality of the presentation - is the memo compelling in how it conveys information through words, figures, tables and graphs?
In the event of tied aggregate scores that might determine the top six submissions, the first tie-breaker will be the value of the cost-effectiveness estimate. The submission among the ties with the lowest cost-effectiveness estimate (least dollars per housing unit) will be selected. If that is insufficient to break the tie, the second and final tie-breaker will be a coin toss.