Posts Tagged ‘budget’

For Defense Contractors, Lobbyists, More Than Just Sequester

Thursday, November 15th, 2012 by Geoffrey Lyons

THE PENTAGON HAS been the source of much worry in Washington lately.  An impending sequester that would strip billions from its budget is fueling premonitions of a fiscal cliff from which the whole nation would plunge.  And while lobbyists from all corners are scrambling to prevent across-the-board cuts, it’s the folks in defense who are most active in the frenzy.

As if this weren’t enough, another alarm is being sounded.  Susan Warshaw Ebner of Asmar, Schor, and McKenna claims that the impact of an emerging issue, and pending regulations to address it, will rattle the entire defense industry.  The issue: counterfeit parts; the stakeholders: virtually everyone.

“Sequester or no sequester, this is going to be a huge issue with huge costs,” said Ebner.  “It’s a virtual certainty that lobbyists and trade associations will have a role to play.”

Essentially, the Pentagon is overdue to roll out regulations that aim to purge the threat of counterfeit electronic parts entering defense equipment (a threat which is elaborated in a Senate report released in May).  Compliance from the industry will implicate all sectors of the defense supply chain to “prevent, detect, remediate, and investigate counterfeiting….”  What this specifically entails hinges largely upon how “counterfeit electronic part” is defined – something DoD was supposed to make clear in its guidance and regulations.

The costs of assuring compliance and ferreting out suspect counterfeits could be crippling.  Ebner evokes a scenario in which a defense contractor learns that a certain make and model of electronic chip, already integrated in systems being shipped abroad, was counterfeited.

“You are likely to face significant costs to figure out if you or any of your lower tier subcontractors and suppliers bought the counterfeit, who from, and if they were used,” said Ebner.   “The question of how to best Online Pokies define and implement requirements is squarely before the DoD right now.”

But while attempting to influence the regulatory language will be an important task for lobbyists, “the first thing lobbyists and trade associations need to do is educate their companies about the problem, the statute, and the risks.  Nobody can afford to be ignorant of what’s at stake.”

This last point is bolstered by the title of an advisory Ebner and her firm released in August: “Counterfeit Parts – An Emerging Issue You Need To Know About!”  It’s also bolstered by facts.  An October white paper released by the American Bar Association’s Task Force on Counterfeit Parts (which Ebner chairs), states that “remedial action” by the Pentagon will include “but [is] not limited to suspension and debarment…in the case of a supplier that repeatedly fails to detect or avoid counterfeit parts or fairs to exercise due diligence.”

For lobbyists closing their eyes and ears to anything but sequestration, some of this may be hard to swallow.

Timeline

12/31/11 – Congress passes Section 818, “Detection and Avoidance of Counterfeit Electronic Parts,” of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.

3/16/12 – Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Frank Kendall, issues a memo broadly defining “counterfeit material.”

3/26/12 – The Government Accountability Office releases a report detailing the availability of counterfeit military parts in China.  Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) says the report poses a “clear and present danger” and a “threat to our troops.”

5/21/12 – The Senate Armed Services Committee releases a report on its two-year study of counterfeit parts in the defense supply chain.

9/26/12 – Regulations outlined in 818 are due to be issued, but aren’t.

10/8/12 – House Intelligence Committee releases report on national security threats posed by Chinese telecommunications companies.

Presidential and Congressional Budget in the real world

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 by Vbhotla

During the recent budget and upcoming Appropriations Committee hearing, a question has been floating around the Hill: has the budget process become irrelevant? There is certainly an argument to be made for it. This year’s Presidential budget was received by many as a political document that was never to be taken as a serious proposal that could ever have the chance of going somewhere. As for the Congressional Budget, aside from the fact that there hasn’t been one for some time, it is pretty much accepted that it as well would be dead on arrival. So without budget resolutions, what’s still important to know about the budget process?

To put it simply: a lot, though not necessarily for the reasons that are traditionally associated with the budget process. To illustrate, 2007 was the first time Congress passed a year-long quasi-continuing resolution (aka the ‘Cromibus’) since the 1980s. Because of the way it was written, the Executive Departments decided to exercise some funding latitude on programs based on the proposed Presidential budget. The Department of Indian Affairs, for example, temporarily withheld funding for some programs that had been zeroed out of the President’s budget, claiming Congress had not given orders to the contrary in their budget. Though eventually the funds were paid out, the damage had been done to some programs.

With the constant possibility (especially in an election year) of a Continuing Resolution, this year’s Presidential budget free electronic cigarettes deserves inspection, especially if your programs are part of the more than 200 that have been eliminated or cut. Here are few highlights to be aware of moving forward in the process:

– Health spending was cut across the board, but most notably the Center for Disease Control took a $664m cut, the largest of any discretionary health spending.

– Low Income Home Energy Assistance with HHS was cut by more than $450m.

– Department of Transportation Grants-in-Aid programs received a $926m cut.

– Of the almost $8 billion in total savings, $4 billion is expected to come from cuts to the Defense Department.

– Department of Treasury is expected to have a more than $240m cut, particularly its vehicle procurement.

With the upcoming funding sequestration, important funding decisions are going to be made in the next year and some programs are going to be left without chairs when the music stops. Even if your program saw a positive number in the budget, the programs that didn’t are going to try to get their money from somewhere. Lobbyists.info can get you prepared for the rest of this year and into the next Congress by showing you who is being hired by whom and let you know what you and your clients need to be watching out for. Additionally, register now to learn more about the budget process and practical tips and tricks you can use in the upcoming lobbyist.info audioconference.

Murkowski Sides With Dems on Women’s Rights Issues

Monday, March 14th, 2011 by Vbhotla

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) became the first Republican senator to speak out in support of Planned Parenthood last week, saying in a letter to Appropriations Committee heads Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), “I believe Planned Parenthood provides vital services to those in need and disagree with [House] funding cuts” in the chambers budget bill.

Sen. Murkowski joins Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as female Republicans speaking in favor of women’s reproductive rights, in vocal departures from their party’s popular rhetoric.  Collins’ spokesperson said the senator believes defunding Title X, which funds Planned Parenthood and other groups, is “unwise,” because “the program has successfully reduced the number of unplanned pregnancies Cialis, therefore helping to reduce health care costs.”

Recently, the Expose Planned Parenthood Coalition, which is made up of 30 anti-abortion groups, has put significant pressure on House Republicans to make defunding of Title X a non-negotiable point in congressional budget talks.  The coalition says it has sent 1.2 million petitions and emails in favor of withholding funding for the program for the remainder of the year.Planned Parenthood argues that it spends most of its time on activities other than abortions, including cancer screening for low income women, and providing contraception to prevent pregnancy.

Seven Republicans in the House opposed the provision to defund Title X during discussions.

Weekly news round-up

Friday, February 25th, 2011 by Vbhotla

They’re at it again: Politico reports yet another favorite off-Campus meeting place White House officials usher their lobbyist guests.  Yesterday’s report suggested that administration officials, who have often been criticized for holding meetings with lobbyists at a local Caribou Coffee to circumvent documenting the meetings, are now holding meetings at local Jackson Place Townhouses, where the White House houses its conference center.  Sentiments on the secret meetings vary.  Some welcome the outreach, despite the secrecy, and others decry the administration’s hypocrisy.

The Obama Effect: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel coasted easily to victory in the Chicago mayoral race with 55% of the vote, despite earlier controversy over his eligibility.  The president’s approval rating is obviously favorable in his hometown.

Budget Stalemate: Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he will not issue another continuing budget resolution if the chambers fail to reach an agreement on spending for FY2011 before the current resolution expires March 4 unless the resolution includes significant cuts.  Some are predicting that with the Senate’s legislative calendar, an agreement within the time constraints is unlikely and a government shut down is all but inevitable.  The New York Times reports that aides to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accuse Democratic counterparts of “rooting for that outcome.”

Lobbying in the 112th: The Budget & Appropriations Process

Thursday, January 27th, 2011 by Vbhotla

So, you need to influence federal budgetary policy to secure funding for a program.  But earmarks are out (at least that’s what they’re telling you), and you need to find a way to still effectively do your job.

According to John Scofield of the Podesta Group, “Regulations are the new earmarks.”  What Scofield alludes to is that one way to steer funds your way could be through petitioning the executive branch , particularly the regulatory agencies who are responsible for monitoring the implementation of Congress’s budget decisions.  Lobby the agencies in conjunction with Congress; get a letter or promise of phone call from Members or staffers who are particularly geared up about your cause to support your argument before the executive branch.

Other useful tips include:

  • Develop coalitions. The more people rallying on behalf of your cause, the broader your reach, and hence, the greater the success.  Enlist stakeholders.
  • Put a personal face to the problem. Elected officials are, well, elected.  If you deploy constituents on your behalf, especially in the current climate with so many Congressional newbies in which things are more likely to happen on merit than rank, the chance of success increases exponentially.  (Advise constituents NOT to threaten not to vote for the Member.  Positive urging is more effective than threats.)
  • Consider multiple approach angles. Repetition is not a bad thing. You may consider a targeted media approach, in which you generate a series of editorials by meaningful contributors in the right publications.  Home district papers, though smaller and of less national attention, will catch the eye of particular Members and staff.  There are, however, occasions when national and online media will be useful.  Know your audience.
  • Get in early.  An appropriation enacted in March 2011 was submitted by the program 24 months earlier.  Now is not a good time to go out for bid with hopes of impacting the FY2011 budget.  And you are behind the curve on the FY2012 budget process.  The best thing to do is to submit requests ON TIME during the subcommittee mark-up.  If you don’t get into a subcommittee bill, you are unlikely to make it in at any later point of the process.
  • Make reasonable asks. Learn what Congress actually has the power to do.  Do not waste your time and energy (and the Member/staffer’s time and energy) petitioning for something the committee simply cannot do.  This is where it may come in handy to build a Congressional champion to pen a letter of support to another entity, like a regulatory agency.
  • Do your homework. Review the president’s budget justifications and incorporate your issues into the supplemental information.  Hold desk-side briefings, ask to testify at hearings.  Provide the staffers with draft questions they can ask during a hearing, whether you are involved or not.  A “protect the budget request” angle will be much more effective than an “add to the budget request.”  Find some way to relate your issue/program into the issues that are already center-stage in the committee’s mind.