This breakout session was led by Kenneth Gold, Director of the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University. Dr, Gold shares has first-hand knowledge of how federal programs can more effectively plan, manage, and budget for those programs, and better represent those programs before Congress.
Agencies Work With Congress For their Budgeting
Every agency puts together its yearly congressional budget justification. Knowing how to format and organize this report will increase the chances of getting necessary funding for your programs.
How To Act While Appealing and Testifying to Congress:
- Always be Open and Truthful (It’s the Law).
- Understand That Attention Spans Are Short. Always have three points to your statements when you are preparing speaking points.
- Use The Old Journalism Maxim: tell your audience what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.
- Establish Relationships With Congressional Staffers. The actual hearing is more of a final show. The real work happens in advance. Working relationships between agency heads
- Understand The Congressional Rules and Regulations. Appropriations acts are the written law, signed by the President. There are penalties for breaking these laws just like there are for any other law. For example, read about the National Weather Service budgeting scandal in which the agency tried to inappropriately distribute its funds.
The Struggle in Congress
– Approval Ratings of Congress Members Are Low
Budgeting decisions and hard and usually unpopular. Only 9%-12% of Americans think that Congress is working well. The turnover of legislators is high and many legislators pay a lot of attention to their re-election prospects when making budgeting decisions.
– Shifting Makeup of Congress
Anti-incubant movements have been popular in the last few election cycles — there were 100 new members of the House in the most recent election cycle. The incumbency rate for the last Congress was the lowest in 50 years. Forty-one members of the Senate are in their first term. The addition of these new faces has not made anything perceptibly better.
The defeat of many political moderates is one of several factors that has led to increased gridlock in Congress and agreement with the President and Executive Branch is currently hard to come by. Agencies bear the brunt of these slowdowns and uncertainties which makes planning and goal setting especially difficult.
-As A Result, Agencies Have Trouble Planning
Due to the gridlock in approving budgets, agencies are already setting up contingency plans for how to deal with impending sequestration if agreements are not made by early 2013.
The problems currently facing federal agencies stem from an inability to appropriately plan for future years’ spending. They can’t hire new employees effectively because there is a chance you will have to fire new personnel at the beginning of 2013.
A complete exploration of the current sequestration debate can be found in the most recent Georgetown Government Affairs Institute newsletter [here].