Every day, Congress, state legislatures and federal and state
agencies develop new laws and regulations that impact your business
and affect your bottom line. These public policy decisions
affect your markets, business opportunities, costs of financing,
supply chains, including availability and costs of labor and raw
materials, and other operations and costs. How a business
chooses to engage in the governmental process is a major decision
that bears a moment of reflection.
For starters, any business must perform basic compliance
functions, which include monitoring, identifying and complying with
new rules and regulations. A more advanced business practice
monitors these developments as they are being designed to be able
to adapt more easily to impending changes as they become
effective. An even stronger practice proactively works to
shape and influence critical policies as they are being
developed. Finally, a more seasoned approach is to engage in
the governmental process proactively to advance a business or
industry strategy by using public policy to shape markets, or
otherwise create opportunities and positively affect the cost
Obviously, meaningful engagement in public policy requires some
organizational structure that includes internal processes to
analyze policy impacts and develop policy positions, and oftentimes
outside resources including membership in trade or professional
organizations and outside legislative counsel to serve as your
'eyes and ears" and your on-the-ground advocates and to
help build the critical relationships necessary for your business
to have a voice and some sway in the outcome of the policy
In closing, here is a quick checklist to assess your
organization's ability to be informed about, and to influence,
policy decisions that affect your business.
To be informed, do you have
A compliance function to monitor changes and business
adaptation to those changes?
Awareness of policy trends and developments during your
business planning process?
Knowledge of key policy issues under consideration that could
impact your business?
Active participation in your industry trade organization?
To influence policy outcomes, do you have
Key messages from your business' perspective to advocate in
the policy debate?
Relationships with the policy decision-makers and other
stakeholders engaged in drafting and debating the policy
Public policies ideas that will advance your business
opportunities and cost structure?
The organizational resources and staffing to develop and
implement your governmental relations strategy?
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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