Why government affairs?
Yejin Cooke, Director of Government Affairs, National Association of State Chief Information Officers
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Miss Sloan” or watch “House of Cards,” there are probably more than a couple of scenes that portray lobbyists as scum of the earth with questionable morals and flexible principles all jockeying for financial gain or political power. But in real life, the lobbyist’s mission is simple and probably mundane; it is to study the impact of potential laws and regulations on the population they represent, convey that impact to others, and advocate for the position that best serves those they represent.
AMR management services serves many association clients and NASCIO is one of the few with a presence in Washington, D.C. with the explicit purpose of managing (federal) government affairs. You may ask why such a presence is necessary – for one, as an association that represents state government officials, there are many instances where changes or new federal policy can impact state government operations. In order to serve our membership, we have to monitor federal laws and regulations that could impact their work in state government. For example, federal legislation for the the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) passed in 2012 and only recently (December 28, 2017) did governors have to decide whether they would opt-in or out of the state plans provided by FirstNet and AT&T. Between 2012 and December 2017, state CIOs had to remain educated about any changes in FirstNet policy so they could properly advise their governors.
We remain vigilant about the federal policy that could impact our association members, but NASCIO advocacy is also about educating federal lawmakers about the role of state CIOs and the work they do to improve the life of those that government serves, like you and me. We regularly visit with congressional offices and regulators to ensure that those that promulgate laws and regulations are fully educated on what state CIOs do and don’t do so that federal policy does not include negative, unintended consequences.
Real life advocacy probably isn’t as exciting compared to the image portrayed in movies and TV but it definitely serves a purpose; it can help ensure educated policy choices by those making them. For associations like NASCIO, our advocacy is more about information sharing and education.