In working with many government affairs groups from universities, law firms, associations, and state and local government we have noticed is that the lobbyist’s day to day tasks are not completely understood by their management. Higher-ups may understand that government relations is done by spending time at the capitol, studying the legislation, and reporting back to the management on issues and opportunities, but may not understand that it is not as simple as it sounds. Consider that any given state can file between 1,000 and 12,000 pieces of legislation in a single legislative cycle. Texas, for example, has a session every other year and in 2011 they published more than 10,000 bills. On the other side, there are organizations such as municipal or county associations and universities that need to be on top of hundreds or even thousands of bills each session. With the vast amount of legislation to review, how is your lobbyist expected to manage it all in a manner that is both useful to them and useful to management?
Like your accountant, your lobbyists are responsible for handling a tremendous amount of information that flows to them over time. The information can change without their knowledge or the text of a bill from yesterday may be very different today. Even the people in your organization that need to be informed about a bill can change once the bill text changes. Your accountants need specialized tools to help them monitor the information and write and communicate their reports, shouldn’t your lobbyists have the necessary tools as well?
A big part of a lobbyist’s job is managing vast amounts of changing information while insuring that the most current and relevant information is presented to the decisions makers. An investment in technology is the only way they can effectively manage the vast amounts of information and organize them for rapid review. A big part of lobbying is also spending time at the capitol cultivating relationships and driving key legislation in the direction that is best for your organization. Technology investments for your lobbyist, such as bill tracking and communications tools, enhance their ability to both manage the information as well as manage the relationships. Lobbying technology allows them to get bill information out to management and get feedback from management quickly; all from the capitol.
Whether your organization is a university, an association, or a professional firm, the question isn’t “Should I invest in my government affairs team?” it should be “Am I enabling my lobbyists with the right tools so that they can do their job?” An investment in your lobbying team can improve the information flow, decrease the amount of busy work they have to do, and ultimately get better results for your organization.