What State & Local Governments Can Learn From Feds or To Quote Warren G, “Regulators, Mount Up!”

I recently attended digitalgov‘s Federal #SocialGov Summit on Entrepreneurship and Small Business. OK, it was back in March, but cut me some slack. I am a state and local government relations professional, and I cover all 50 states. Consider that the New Hampshire General Court has almost as many members as the U.S. Congress, and then add on another 49 (54 if you count territories) legislatures.

I attended the #SocialGov Summit, because it was billed as a day to see how the U.S. General Services Agency and other agencies are working with startups and small businesses to solve government problems and challenges. My firm, MOB Advocacy, specializes in helping startups and small businesses with the unique legislative, regulatory and procurement challenges. I was definitely interested, even if I was skeptical that the Federal Government was going to have anything more innovative that what I knew was already going on at the state and local levels. These are places where governments actually (for the most part) work. Surely, state and local governments were going to be ahead of the federal government on the civictech/ socialgov innovation scale.

How wrong was I? As a state and local government guy, I don’t say this often (ok, maybe never), but state and local governments can learn a few things from the federal government.

The GSA and other agency leaders talked about their programs that are disrupting the procurement process, and how they are helping startups and small businesses. Programs like entrepreneurs in residence that are moving government from its traditional risk averse mentality, and data.gov and challenge.gov that are leveling the procurement playing field for startups and small businesses. The U.S. Government is opening data and presenting government problems to entrepreneurs, and asking those entrepreneurs to bring them their ideas and solutions. And they are doing it across every government agency.

Many state and local governments are beginning to embrace these ideas, but honestly it was like watching Code for America on steroids.

The highlight of the day, however, was learning that the GSA was launching a partnership with Rap Genius/ News Genius to crowdsource analysis of proposed federal rules. Imagine, federal rules in layman’s terms so they can be interpreted by regular people, not just regulatory lawyers.

I read state and local rules and regs every day. Some of these proposed rules could have significant impact on individuals, communities, small businesses — people that don’t have the time or the experience to try to interpret regulations if they could even find them. It would be great if there was a site in every state to find, not only the legalese but also plain language with quality analysis.

But I would settle for states just to realize that their state register systems are woefully inadequate and out of touch. “Regulators, mount up!”

About Michael O’Brien…

Michael O’Brien is the founder and principal of MOB Advocacy. He has more than ten years experience as a state and local lobbyist. Michael has lobbied governors, mayors, legislators, state and local agencies and regulators in more than 40 states.

Before starting MOB Advocacy, Michael was the the national state and local government affairs department for RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment). Prior to RISE, Michael launched Molina Healthcare’s political and grassroots advocacy programs, created strong public-private partnerships as director of The Washington Center, and developed a federal, state and grassroots advocacy program for The National Conference for Community and Justice.

About MOB Advocacy…

MOB Advocacy is a full-service, multi-state government relations firm located in Fairfax City, Virginia. Founded in 2012, MOB Advocacy has quickly become a recognized leader in state and local government relations.

MOB Advocacy’s clients range from established corporations, tech start-ups, nationally recognized non-profit and advocacy groups. Our clients chose us because MOB Advocacy offers the full range of solutions of a large government relations firm with the personal service of a boutique firm. Mob Advocacy helps its clients to navigate the complex world of state and local legislative and regulatory affairs, procurement bureaucracy and appropriations processes to achieve their organizational goals.

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