“The Federal government is too large, and I just do not know who to approach?” All too often small and large businesses and trade /professional associations and individuals seeking Federal agency support for their programs, projects, innovations, contracts and other requests simply do not pursue (and fulfill)their objectives to target the right official in both the administration and Congress, at the right time and in the best way utilizing the process that guarantees success.
Recognizing the relative new power of federal officials to consider and make decisions on allocations of significant monies that Congress approve for their various programs, is one of the first overlooked aspects of planning for funding success.
- Have you developed a succinct proposal(unsolicited rather than based on a bid or RFP)and provided your elected Member of Congress, both House and Senate with a copy?
- Have you engaged with the Congressional staff whose area of interest corresponds to your proposal and interest with the agency? Presented your connection to the district/State and explained the economic impact of the proposal either from a jobs perspective, or revenue or other positive results?
- Do you know who to contact and how best to gain an audience to make your proposal? Pre-meeting briefing-post-meeting assessment and follow-up are critical components;
- When you brief the agency on your capabilities, have you reviewed the fiscal year allocations and programs in the prior year,or Congress’ actions in the program area, and how you can “fit into” the agencies objectives for the next FY cycle?
- Have you properly researched the officials within the agency, both the highest levels for interaction with Congress and third party support for your request, as well as the “implementers” or agency employees that will be working on your project?
There are two key phases to target in your quest for federal funds.
The first relates to “timing,” and the ability to know the process and when to initiate your efforts both in Congress and the Federal government. For example, in the remaining three months for this 4Q 2018, have you factored in,
The final allocations(and some may change after going through a yearlong Congressional funding cycle) for FY2019, which began October 1st, and will most probably not be decided until December (the 7th is the next critical date for funding programs).
Another key date to factor in your planning is the year end final approval by the White House and the OMB for the FY2020 Federal budget presentations that will be made to Congress after the State of the Union. While many of these decisions are “embargoed” and will be held until January or February, after the State of the Union, knowledgeable professionals will have already impacted the process and decision-making way before the end of the year.
Timing also relates to the following plans for your project:
- Leadership in Congress that will decide the FY2020 budget will alo be made in the next 90 days. Preparing the necessary requests to your Member of Congress(House and Senate),presenting your request to the applicable Appropriations Subcommittee leadership and staffs most probably after January or early February, preparing for agency interaction and some groups seek to send letters or testify in Subcommittees on their programs, which will begin in the March-May,2019 cycle;
- While your focus in in the next Federal FY(2020) decisions in the agency have been made and programs “locked-in” for Congress’ considerations and the “drama” is in the FY2021 program development which begins in early 2019 within the agencies. Knowing the right people that can influence these decisions is critical to success.
The next decision point is “presentation.” For Congress, and in some cases within the agencies, officials and staffs do not have the time to review extensive documents, many with footnotes and text that in some cases looks like a College thesis. Summary points and materials as appendices usually win the day.
- Who goes to the presentation, and what is said in the time allotted. What third-party supporters will be marshaled to engage with the officials and how best can this action item be made?
- Are the facts and stats presented correct?
- Networking the presentation early enough in the cycle to impact the key decision points along the way—prior to submission of budget requests to the Congress, inclusion within the agency budget requests, increasing or decreasing decisions on the budget in Congress both from a Committee, Conference or other major events—each presentation must keep up with the changing environment, changing personalities involved and changing legislative dynamics.
The answer for everyone interested in how the next $1.3+Trillion dollar Federal budget will be allocated, including an estimated $749+ billion dollars provided in federal grants to state and local governments by Congress is to be sure to have a trusted and competent professional to be with you along the way—the McKeon Group is your ally in this endeavor.