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Engineer's Guide to
Influencing Public Policy

Contents

Lobby? You? Yes!

IRS on Lobbying by
501(c)(3) Organizations

Policy-Makers on
Engineers and  Advocacy

How to Communicate
With Congress: The Basics

Writing Your
Member of Congress

The Telephone Call

Using Electronic Mail

The Washington Visit

Writing Letters
to the Editor

Writing an Op-Ed
(forthcoming)

Effective Lobbying
at the Grassroots Level


Inviting Elected Officials to Section Meetings

Organizing an Engineers' Day at the State Capital
Arranging a Grass
Roots Group Meeting

Arranging a
Successful Site Visit

Accessing Legisation
On-Line

The World Wide Web as a
Resource for Activism

Well's 17 Cardinal Rules
for Working with Congress

Hymel on
Congressional Staff

Understanding Congress
as a System

Katz on Science
Advice to Congress

Dean on Running
For Public Office

Running for Local Office:
Interviews With Two City Councilmen

Other Resources

AAAS Working With
Congress On-Line

Ben's Guide to
The U.S. Government


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The Engineer's Guide is an on-going collection of "how-to" articles and information designed to encourage engineers to become more active and help them become more effective in influencing public policy decisions on career and professional, as well as technical, issues of concern.

Engineering, scientific and technical organizations like IEEE-USA can play an important role in Washington helping Members of Congress understand the technical implications of complex public policy issues.  But all policy decisions ultimately are made in a political context.  What influences legislators' votes first and foremost are the wishes of the constituencies that elected them.  Without constituent support, the legislator will be out of a job at election time. That is why it is critical that engineers and scientists are vocal at the grassroots level in their states and congressional districts on the issues that concern them.

Activism, however, should not begin and end with a single issue.   Your efforts will be much more successful if your congressional representatives already have an understanding of why science, engineering and technology is important to the district or state and how engineers are organized.  Effective advocates work to establish continuing relationships based on familiarity and trust, so that when an issue does arise, your Representative will listen and give weight to your input.

Finally, engineers need to understand that they are not alone.  Any legislative action (or a failure to take action) is likely to affect the interests of a broad array of individuals and organizations.  An effective grassroots approach identifies potential allies and seeks opportunities for collaboration.   For electrical, electronics or computer engineers, this might mean working with mechanical or civil engineers.  It might mean building bridges between industry, academia and in public service.  And it can mean looking beyond the technical community to reach out to other interested groups.

This Guide highlights these lessons and aims to equip engineers with practical advocacy skills and tools.  It is focused primarily on advocacy at the federal level, although the lessons are applicable to the state and local level as well.

Comments and suggested additions are welcome and can be directed to Russell T. Harrison, r.t.harrison@ieee.org.


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Last Update: 09 July 2009

Editors:  Chris Brantley, c.brantley@ieee.org
Russell T. Harrison, r.t.harrison@ieee.org

Copyright 2004 The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.  No-rights claimed as to public domain material or material used with the permission of other organizations.    Permission is granted to copy with proper attribution for non-commercial purposes.