May 2012 | How-To | Ten Tips

Becoming a Transportation Industry Advocate

Tags: Legislation, Public Policy, and Regulations

Legislators are currently considering and implementing laws and regulations many transportation experts fear will significantly erode trucking productivity and increase the delivered cost of goods. There's no time like the present to begin advocating your company's interests. Brian Everett, ABC, executive director for the National Shipper's Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC), outlines how business leaders can make a difference.

1. Identify advocacy issues most important to you. Many advocacy issues could impact your business, so select carefully the ones most important to you and your company.

2. Quantify the impact on your business. Demonstrating how proposed legislation will impact your company's workforce, costs, and competitiveness will help you influence policymakers.

3. Understand the legislative/regulatory process. Develop at least a basic understanding of legislative and policy-making fundamentals.

4. Participate in the process. Policymakers want to understand how proposed changes might impact your business, the U.S. economy, and the country's overall competitiveness. Look for opportunities to educate government leaders who do not have experience in transportation and supply chain management. Legislators rely on industry practitioners to help weigh the costs and benefits of proposed changes.

5. Contact elected officials. For policies that require legislation, such as transportation infrastructure funding, talk directly to those who vote on the decisions. Congressional leaders respond positively when constituents write or call about proposed or pending legislation. Tell them why they should make specific decisions about rules that will impact your business.

6. Comment on pending regulations. Regulations go through a public rulemaking process in which industry and citizens are invited to comment on proposed rules. Agencies then analyze the comments, adjust the rules, and issue the final version. Industry associations such as NASSTRAC frequently file comments on behalf of shippers to explain how pending rules will impact their member companies' operations. During the comment period, shippers can use NASSTRAC's filings or participate in letter-writing campaigns to provide input—before the rules become final.

7. Educate your company's management about transportation legislation. Shippers often say their companies' government affairs departments focus on issues aligned with their core business—not transportation. These issues, however, are crucial to the core business. It is up to transportation or supply chain management executives to educate government affairs professionals on critical transportation advocacy issues.

8. Visit Washington. Personally meet with a U.S. representative, senator, or agency to educate them about how their decisions will impact your business.

9. Participate in fly-ins. During a fly-in, transportation stakeholders gather in Washington at the same time to meet as groups with members of Congress. Several people expressing the same concerns about pending regulations creates an effective message.

10. Get involved in associations. Many industry associations aim to prevent regulations that negatively impact productivity, operations, efficiencies, and supply chain costs. These groups continually educate their members about ways to be an industry advocate. Get involved, and you just might make a difference.