Legislative Tracking: Does One Size Fit All?

October 27, 2011 by Crescerance

Capitol Impact has been providing Legislative Tracking software to lobbyists for over a decade, and in our time interacting with them we have come to learn that lobbyists are not all alike. Lobbyist’s activities are driven by the audience they serve, so their interactions are defined by the group they represent. A lobbyist for an association does not do things the same way as a lobbyist for a state or local government agency does. A professional lobbyist that works on behalf of clients doesn’t interact with their clientele the same way a lobbyist for an association interacts with its members.

How are lobbyists different and how do their differences determine the type of tools that they need? Is a “one size fits all” legislative tracking solution sufficient? We don’t recommend it.

Association Lobbyists

Association lobbyists are in charge of a large group of members and must track specific bills relating to their members’ interests. These lobbyists often require the ability to connect to members and establish communication with large groups of people scattered across the state easily and effectively. They need to be able to track bills and share the information with their members and the legislative committees. Capitol Impact has noticed that association lobbyists are less concerned with sharing their members’ feedback with a wide audience and are more interested in receiving feedback. They gather this information and use it to formulate strategies to handle specific pieces of legislation.

Agency Lobbyists

A state or local government lobbyist is in close contact with a group of departments. Each department has a leader and a staff that need to be able to keep up with bills related to their specific area of responsibility. The lobbyist needs to be able to communicate what is important to each department as well as gather feedback. Government lobbyists need an environment where a group of department heads and staff can see bills related to their area, comment on the bills, and share information across departments for a coordinated response. Bills are often relevant to multiple departments, which can lead to multiple viewpoints on a course of action. It is important that the agency lobbyist is able to facilitate communication between department heads so they can engage in conversations about important legislation. By sharing feedback, the agency lobbyist and management can develop a strategy that will benefit from the input of those who will have to implement the legislation.

Professional Lobbyists

A professional lobbyist often works for multiple clients that require them to track a different universe of bills for each client. At any point several clients may be tracking the same bill also. A professional lobbyist requires an environment that allows them to communicate with specific clients individually. The lobbyist needs each client to be able to view and comment on bills that relate to them without allowing other clients to view the activity. Utilizing client privacy in a single tracking system allows the lobbyist to craft multiple strategies dedicated to each specific client’s needs without duplicating information across clients. Lobbyists should be able to enter a bill once and assign it so multiple clients have the ability to leave unique comments relevant to their situation.

Does your legislative tracking system cater to your specific needs, or are you stuck in a “one size fits all” system? Find out how Capitol Impact can help!