There is change afoot in how things are getting done in Washington, D.C. When I first joined CNP eleven years ago, we spent the majority of our time working Capitol Hill on behalf of clients in order to educate staff and Members on the value of a particular area of research or an emerging technology. We always made sure that our clients were relevant and aligned to the respective Agency’s mission but the Hill was of more importance to our clients’ success in moving their projects forward.
In recent years though, a shift has occurred. Since the moratorium on earmarks that directly led to a rise in the importance of the Agencies, combined with the complete political dysfunction of the Hill, Congress is becoming less and less relevant to those wanting to do business with the Government. For example, when I was on the Hill last week with a client, we met with Committee staff; while they were highly interested in the research being done by our client’s institution, the take away was that nothing of substance could be done to help advance the research. In stark contrast, we then met with the relevant Agency and walked out of the meeting with a point of contact who would coordinate future communication with the appropriate Agency staff, a follow up plan of action, and a genuine interest in working closely with our client. In fact, last night we received a detailed email from our POC relating the next steps and additional staffers for us to meet.
With all of the above said, it is important to remember that the vast majority of staff on the Hill are incredibly hard-working and talented and want to do what they can to advance the constituents’ causes on behalf of their bosses whenever possible. For that reason we must circle back to the Hill and relay what transpired with the Agencies so they can become engaged where possible. Congress might not be able to pass legislation very often but the offices can still generate a phone call or a letter in support of a constituent to an Agency.
While the country is looking at Congress with more and more dismay, the federal government is up and running and things are, in fact, getting done.
Alan MacLeod manages Capstone National Partners Washington, DC office where he is the strategic lead for CNP clients. Alan represents the Washington, DC interests of high tech corporations, nationally known universities and research institutions and a variety of other clients. His relationships with Federal Agencies, on Capitol Hill and the Administration have developed over more than 25 years working in and around Washington, DC in public affairs and the political arena.
The views in this blog post represent the viewpoints of individual team members, not Capstone National Partners as a whole.