Government Relations is a marathon… not a sprint. Changes in public policy is typically a long process, from providing regulatory comments to an agency issuing a final rule, or from convincing congressional committee members to allow changes in legislation to the enactment of law. Businesses and organizations who need to have their voices heard in Washington, or even at the state level need to understand that, from its creation, government does not move fast. It is slow, deliberate, and doesn’t react as quickly as the private sector. This can be frustrating for companies, industries, or non-profit organizations that need rapid change to accommodate their future growth.
Just Making a Comment…
Even with the best articulated arguments in comments on pending regulations it can take months, if not years, to result in favorable action by a regulatory agency. Recently, our client received favorable action on a controversial regulatory issue regarding consumer information on labels of poultry and meat packages. Initial comments were submitted to the federal agency early in 2009. After five years and nine months, on December 31, 2014 the agency released a final rule favoring our client’s position. The rule specifically mentioned our client’s comments as having significant impact on the final rule.
To illustrate further, at a Joint Committee Hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions entitled, Oversight of the Implementation of the President’s Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security, held on December 11, 2014, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the U.S. Department of Labor said, “The regulatory process is very slow. We have a process which involves multiple steps and a huge amount of stakeholder input. We start this process with a request for information, in fact we’ll be doing our small business regulatory fairness hearings later on in 2015 where we will involve representatives of small business to talk about some of the changes we are considering. Based on that information we will then do extensive economic and technological analysis to make a proposal – and this just begins this process where we’ll have public hearings and input. So, it will take a while. Relatively simple standards take five years or more and complex ones can take more than that! And this is a shame! It means there is no way we will update this in the next couple of years. Fortunately even the process will make things a little bit better because employers will get involved and they will see what they need to do. But, our ability to enforce stronger standards will take unfortunately years maybe even five years or more!”
The Wait Can Reap Billions
In the event cited above, our client’s argument was based upon a study conducted in 2006 that indicated the loss to U.S. consumers in value received due
to an inability to apply proper procedures was at $2 billion nationwide, annually. Cansler Consulting was proud to be a part in presenting our client’s viewpoints to regulatory officials and key federal legislators. Did it happen overnight? No. But the cost of professional government liaison was insignificant to the benefits to the organizations programs and U.S. consumers.
When hiring representation, remember that it takes time to effect change, but the return is very often worth the investment hundreds, if not thousands of times over.