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ENGINEER SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON Dr. Steve E. Watkins, Government Fellow & Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of MO, Rolla and Erica Wissolik,

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Presentation on theme: "ENGINEER SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON Dr. Steve E. Watkins, Government Fellow & Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of MO, Rolla and Erica Wissolik,"— Presentation transcript:

1 ENGINEER SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON Dr. Steve E. Watkins, Government Fellow & Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of MO, Rolla and Erica Wissolik, Program Manager, Government Relations, IEEE-USA For the 2005 Leadership Workshop 12 March 2005 Tucson, AZ

2 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY: PUBLIC POLICY Why Should You Care? Policymakers have the power to affect your livelihood and transform your profession. Policymakers are usually not scientists or engineers; they rely on information from the experts. Policymakers are very open to communication from constituents especially those with a knowledge of the legislative process and its participants

3 OVERVIEW S&T Public Policy: What Are The Issues? Why Should You Be Involved? How Can You Be Involved? Influencing the Process Grassroots Constituent Contact Interactive Role Play Summary & Questions?

4 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY: PUBLIC POLICY I strongly believe that the scientific community as a whole is much too isolated from the federal decision-making process, and much too complacent about its own role in our culture. (Former U.S. Congressman George Brown, IEEE-USA's 1996 Technology Policy Symposium on the Role of the Federal government in Technology Development)

5 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY ISSUES What are the issues? Federal Investment in R&D Oversight of Federal Agencies Critical National Infrastructures Facilitation of Technical Innovation Technical Jobs & Education

6 PERCEPTIONS & RESULTS Why Should You Be Involved? Why is it so hard to get Washington to double the budget for federal scientific research? The answer is not logic but politics. I have found scientists and investors to be among the least effective lobbyists and have watched more focused special interests receive more money than they deserve while the future was starved of resources. (Newt Gingrich, Former U.S. Congressman and Speaker of the House, Excerpt from Washington Post, 18 Oct. 1999) To alter perceptions and make an impact. You have expertise. Your opinions are valuable

7 ADVOCACY AND EDUCATION How can You Be Involved? Support Society-Level Activities Development of Professional Policy Positions Education of the Public Facilitate Grassroots Constituent Contact Congressional Visits Days Personal Informal Contact Promote Member Involvement and Knowledge Student & Member Opportunities

8 INFLUENCING THE PUBLIC POLICY PROCESS The reluctance of scientists to participate in the policy- making process negatively affects the government's ability to make good science policy decisions. We need scientists to enter government service not only as appointees, but also as elected officials, particularly in Congress. (U.S. Congressman Vernon Ehler's (a physicist), National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Ensuring the Best S&T Presidential and Federal Advisory Committee Appointments, 21 July 2004)

9 1. Congressional Visits Days (CVDs) I've got a few things I want to say... And …, I'm not gonna leave this body until I do get them said. -- Senator Smith a.k.a. Jimmy Stewart

10 1. Congressional Visits Days (CVDs) (contd) RULES FOR PRESENTING AN ISSUE 1.Be prepared. 2.Keep it clear, simple & concise. Did you ever have so much to say about something, you just couldn't say it? (Sen. Smith a.k.a. Jimmy Stewart) 3.Be ready to answer questions – Who? What? How? Why? And HOW MUCH? 4.Be respectful. 5.Most of all, dont accept the inside vs. the outside the beltway mentality, and know that its OK to be enthusiastic.

11 2. WISE Student Program … WISE provides a unique opportunity for engineering students, …particularly as the importance of technology policy is becoming more widely recognized Dr. Alan Levin, Chair, 2005 WISE Committee & Senior Technical Advisor to the Director, Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research

12 2. WISE Student Program (contd.) Support for 3 rd -year engineering students to spend a paid summer internship in Washington, DC by several engineering societies, see IEEE-USA selects 2-4 IEEE U.S. student members a nationwide competition since 1980 Program Activities Teach students how engineers contribute to public policy decisions on complex technology issues Mentor students on issues of engineering & policy

13 3. IEEE-USA Fellowships "Members of Congress, let me just say, are generally not loath to talk about subjects in which they are not well trained, except in science. …. And as a result, many of the aspects of the policy questions before us that involve science and technology do not get the attention they should. That is why the congressional fellows program is so important. It is in many offices the only scientific expertise that is provided. This technical expertise is very valuable to Congress; and it allows not only these Fellows to bring scientific expertise here; it allow them to carry political expertise back to their professions." Rep. Rush Holt (New Jersey)

14 3. IEEE-USA Fellowships (contd.) Sponsorship of senior engineers for one-year positions as congressional staff since 1973 Sponsorship of senior engineers for a one-year State Department position since 2003 Program Purposes Provide government experience to members Provide expertise to government Build a cadre of engineers with policy capabilities

15 EXPERIENCE AS AN IEEE-USA FELLOW Selected as a 2004 IEEE- USA Congressional Fellow Participated in orientation with other S&T Fellows Obtained a staff position in the personal office of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (CA 46th)

16 FELLOWSHIP DETAILS Choices: House or Senate, Majority or Minority Party Personal or Committee Staff The First Day: One room for 6 staff, 2 interns, & copy machine Computer, badge, files, building directions, & op-ed assignment

17 PERSONAL OFFICE Staff: Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief, Press Secretary, Scheduler, Leg. Assistants, & Correspondent Seniority - 4th out of 9 in one year Relationships: Leadership and other Personal Staff Committee Staff and Caucus Groups Advocacy and Lobby Groups New Organizations CONSTITUENTS!

18 STAFF ACTIVITIES Responsibilities of Science Special Leg. Assistant: Committee activities for Science & Resources S&T issues related to constituents, district, etc. Types of Assignments: Track legislation, coordinate events, etc. Research & analysis of technical issues Communication (briefings, talking points, formal drafts, letters, etc. Represent member & office at meetings

19 MY S&T ISSUES A question about Alaskan Caribou... Funding for Federal S&T Agencies (NSF, NIST, etc.) Oversight & Special Targeted Programs Legislation Supporting Innovation & Commerce Recommendations on Votes, Earmarks, etc. Promotion of Members Views and Objectives

20 OBSERVATIONS Enormous Range & Number of Issues Members Develop Specialties S&T Expertise is Rare Influencing Congress Difficult legislative process (early commentary) Importance of Politics, Credibility, & Constituents Examples & outcomes are essential Knowledge of members votes, philosophy, etc.

21 INFLUENCING THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS Engineers & Societies Educating the Public Engineers & Societies Interacting with Congress Professional Policy Development Experts for Hearings and Other Events Technical Resources and Fellows Programs Engineering Professionals as Constituents Congressional Visits Days Other Personal Visits and Messages Personal Relationships and Involvement

22 GRASSROOTS CONTITUENT CONTACT Leaders of the scientific community spend far too much time with their natural allies, like me; and far too little time convincing newer or more skeptical Members of Congress that R&D makes a difference in their districts and to the nation. (U.S. Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, Chair, House Science Committee, AAAS S&T Colloquium, 3 May 2001)

23 CONTITUENT COMMUNICATIONS Avenues: Visit, Telephone, , Mail, & Fax Invite Members to District Events, Tours, etc. Relationships with Campaigns Vote Suggestions for Communications Identify yourself as a constituent. Be timely & refer to specific legislation Give examples/outcomes & ask for a response Be polite & credible

24 ROLE PLAY Planning a visit: Organize Your Remarks: Who - Constituent, Professional Community, etc. Acknowledgments & Thanks for Prior Support What - Issue or Legislation for Discussion (Be specific, relate to district, & give examples) How - Specific Request Caveats Be flexible; waits & interruptions are not unusual Bring business cards & leave-behinds; Follow up Respect the Office Staff

25 SUMMARY S&T Public Policy has a great impact on the profession and individual engineers. Engineers have many opportunities to participate. Effective interaction requires a knowledge of the legislative process and the participants. IEEE and IEEE members have a role to play.

26 FOR YOUR LOCAL ACTIVITIES Congressional Visits Days Student Involvement, e.g. the WISE Program Member Involvement in the Government Fellows Program Training for Grassroots Constituent Contacts

27 RESOURCES FROM IEEE-USA Eye on Washington – a bi-weekly e-newsletter informing members of state and federal legislation, White House, executive agency, and US courts activities. IEEE-USA Congressional Directory – reference guide to whos who in Congress IEEE-USA staff


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