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This kind of thing comes up a lot in my engineering job. We're writing a document that is a Plan for something we'll be doing in the future. For instance, a Test Plan that describes who will participate in the test, what will be tested, and how the results will be documented. For instance, "System developers will be required to transport their systems to the facility in Boulder, CO." It is true that in the future, the systems will go to that facility. But I think it's more correct to write it "System developers are required to transport their systems to the facility in Boulder, CO." My sense is that this way of writing it makes the sentence valid both now and in the future (the future here is at the time when the transport takes place), whereas, the first way of writing it is only valid now.

Is it correct that the 2nd way is better writing? If so, what is the general rule that I can cite? Is it "verb tense" or some other rule?

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In these cases it is generally preferable to use the imperative mood:

System developers must transport their systems to the facility in Boulder, CO.

The declarative mood (in which the question of tense comes into play) deal with statements of fact. But it does not signal that such a fact is created by this document. In other words

System developers will be required to transport their systems to the facility in Boulder, CO.

Does not state why or by whom system developers will be required to do this. The imperative mood, on the other hand, make it clear. It is because I said so.

Now if you are in a situation in which you are reporting that requirement will change in the future, then you should state both the current and future requirements in the declarative mood.

System developers are currently required to toss their systems in the lake, but in the future they will be required to transport their systems to the facility in Boulder, CO.

This statement does not create either policy. It merely reports what the current policy is and what the future policy will be. A document that creates the policy should use the imperative mood. And documents that reiterate that policy should generally use the imperative mood as well if their purpose it to ensure policy compliance, rather than to alert people to upcoming policy changes.

When reporting an upcoming policy change, always state the current policy as well as the future policy. This will avoid much confusion and distress.

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