NSPE TODAY: POLICY PERSPECTIVES
BY SARAH OGDEN
NSPE recently surveyed more than 25,000 members about public policy issues and their political activism within NSPE. We're always interested in issues that are important to professional engineers, how they are taking action in their communities, and how we can better serve them. As part of the survey, we asked members to identify the public policy issues most important to them, in what ways they were politically active, and how NSPE's government relations program could improve.
The results are in, and we are pleased to report that NSPE members believe that the government relations program serves an important purpose and adds value to their membership. To ensure we continue to meet your needs, we're incorporating your feedback into the government relations program. Read on for the highlights.
NSPE members identified their top five federal public policy issues as energy (65%), STEM education (62%), infrastructure improvement (62%), critical infrastructure and homeland security (56%), and licensure (40%).
Based on the survey results, NSPE's federal issue advocacy has been on track: In 201011, NSPE focused on three of the federal issues members identified as most important (energy, STEM education, and infrastructure improvement), as well as protecting qualifications-based selection and enacting Good Samaritan protection for professional engineers volunteering in a declared emergency.
In 201112, NSPE's federal public policy priorities will include all the survey respondents' top five issues. NSPE also will continue to focus on protecting QBS and enacting Good Samaritan protection for professional engineers. The NSPE Legislative and Government Affairs Committee has created an action plan to advocate these critical issues, including forming issue-based task forces.
NSPE members are not depending on others to do all the heavy lifting, however: Our professional engineers are letting elected officials know what they think about these important issues by voting, volunteering in congressional campaigns, and contributing to political causes. In fact, a whopping 95% of survey respondents reported voting in the 2010 elections, and 97% reported voting in the 2008 elections. Nine percent of those surveyed have a relationship with an elected official, be it through campaign volunteering, a personal relationship, or official meetings. And 55% of respondents have contributed to candidates for office or political action committees.
It is critical to stay engaged in the public policy process, from elections to lawmaking. Congress makes decisions every day about issues that are important to you. Speak up—your representatives want to hear from you! Your personal experience and professional expertise as a PE gives you a unique, valuable perspective on critical issues. Moreover, you are a voice at the voting booth. Learn more about your elected officials and public policy issues that affect the engineering profession at NSPE's Legislative Action Center: http://capwiz.nspe.org.
One finding from the survey is that members are unclear on the issues NSPE supports. Some members think we lean left; some think we lean right. Actually, NSPE advocates for issues that benefit the engineering profession, regardless of which side of the aisle tends to support those issues. In fact, most of our issues are politically neutral because they benefit the public health and safety, which is something everyone can get behind. To find out what NSPE really believes, check out NSPE's position statements: http://www.nspe.org/IssuesandAdvocacy/TakeAction/PositionStatements/index.html.
Obviously, there is always room for improvement. Respondents would like us to improve government relations communications. We already have launched "Latest News," a Web page that is updated weekly to keep you abreast of how NSPE Government Relations is serving you: www.nspe.org/IssuesandAdvocacy/LatestNews/index.html. We also have other communications in the works, including an e-newsletter.
A politically active membership is vital to NSPE's continued success. If you have comments about the government relations program, please contact email@example.com. For more information about NSPE Government Relations, please visit www.nspe.org/IssuesandAdvocacy