Advocacy Day 2013

Advocacy Day 2013Burr 2013

By Michael O’Brien – Quintiles

I watched Born on the 4th of July” the other night and was amazed once again at the level of public protest our nation endured during that time about the war in Vietnam.  Over the past three months it is very easy to feel the system is too large to reflect any hope that our representatives actually represent us.

 

group capitol 3I can tell you that representation is alive and well in Washington DC and our representatives know who we are as a chapter, what our industry does in managing facilities, the strength of our purchasing power and more importantly how we as a professional group can help the federal government be more efficient in running their federal properties.  I was honored to represent the Greater Triangle Chapter at the annual IFMA Advocacy Day held in Washington on September 18th and 19th along with 24 other representatives from IFMA National and other chapters across the country.

 

The purpose of Advocacy Day is to put IFMA Members in front of our legislators to advocate for our industry.  This 2 day event put on by IFMA national and supported by our chapter

is a full two day event that starts with a behind the scenes tour.  The tour was arranged by the Office of the Architect of the Capitol who manages both the Capitol but all the events surrounding including the 4th of July Fireworks and National Concert on the Mall, as well as the Inauguration, and all operations/improvements to the Capitol.

 

My takeaway was to marvel at the history of this nation as we toured the Capitol.  The immensity of the size and thought behind it all also reminded me that we do have a voice and that voice is only useful if used.  During our tour I found myself walking next to Senator Burr, from North Carolina.  We exchanged hellos and he asked why I was there listening as we walked.  He got to hear about the Greater Triangle chapter that day.

 

Our 2nd day included participation in the Public Policy Forum.  The Public Policy Forum is in its 8th year and is a two hour meeting held on Capitol Hill with presentations and comments from leadership of the General Services Administration – GSA (Government Real Estate and Facilities group) and also representatives of Congress or their staff members.

 

The topics are sometimes general to the mood of the country or specific to the FM industry and the need to move legislation.  We heard from Kevin Kampschoer a Director of GSA’s High Performance Green Buildings Group, as well as Representatives – Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Jim Langevin (D-RI), and Jake Oster from Congressman Peter Welch’s office.  The most important part of the Public Policy Forum comes in our ability to ask each one of these representatives specific questions on FM legislation, energy bills and controls, support for the Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act, or to become a member of the High Performance Buildings Caucus.  One member actually committed to join in our meeting and within 15 minutes after having left us had distributed an announcement highlighting.

 

The second half of our day is the reason we are in Washington and spent conducting meetings with staff or representatives.  I participated in six meetings between 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. meeting with staff members from the following offices – Congresswoman Renee Ellmer’s (R-NC), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and actually got to speak to Congressman David Price (D-NC).

 

The reason for the other states visited was I had two new Advocacy participants with me as well as a member from the Pace Office who supports our legislative effort.  The three IFMA members supported each other if you got hung up during the discussion which typically lasted 15-25 minutes.

 

I’ve decided to break this summary into two parts.  The background of what we do this month and a summary of all of the legislation and links into next month.  However you should know that our meetings carried a simple message that was as basic as introducing what facilities management is as a profession, who IFMA represents, and for me I added what the strength of the Greater Triangle Chapter was to our region.  The more detailed message included how we as a group of professionals can help the federal government operate their facilities better through better training, better space planning and disposition of excess federal property.  The Federal Government operates over 500,000 buildings and is the world’s largest single owner of facilities.

 

In each meeting we found a staff member interested and who learned more about FM in our discussions.  And in the discussions with our North Carolina representatives they learned more about the Greater Triangle Chapter and who we are.  Our discussions with Senator Burr’s office were very promising as our staff member remembered who we were from last year.  He has also committed to meeting this week with the IFMA representatives in Washington to work towards resolving the legislative impasses associated with the disposition of excess federal property bills to attempt a bi-partisan effort for resolution as well as considering joining the High Performance Buildings Caucus which does not have a Senator on it.  These two items would be major wins legislatively and would be a direct result of our asking for it in our meeting.

 

Our networking at this event introduced members that have started Advocacy efforts at the state level.  As a result I am initiating a teleconference with our advocacy group to have the representatives from Pennsylvania introduce how they established their state advocacy program.  Our own Professional Development Committee has included this state advocacy effort as a part of its Balanced Scorecard Initiatives for 2014 action so you will see more updates as they approach.

 

Keep an eye open in the November Newsletter for a summary of the legislation currently out there that we are supporting and ways you can contribute to make your own voices heard as well!