Planning Success Beyond Transitions

APA's Federal Planning Division convened a regional training workshop earlier this week on Interagency Collaboration in Changing Environments.

Speakers on three different tracks addressed the theme of change, including succeeding beyond transitions, creating safe and secure environments, and harnessing new technologies.

I was pleased to represent APA's Policy and Advocacy team to provide an update on recent changes in the political and policy landscape. As President-elect Trump sets up his administration, and as a new Congress takes shape, the planning community must be prepared to address new challenges and opportunities as they arise.  

Understanding the Policy Environment

The first step in that process is to understand the immediate, short-, and long-term timelines in the policy environment.

In the near term, the policy office is monitoring the action and decisions of President-elect Trump’s transition team, including cabinet appointments and potential regulatory updates. We’re also tracking key legislation, such as the Water Resources and Development Act, that Congress may be considering before adjournment this year.

Then, beginning in January, we’ll be off and running with congressional and executive action on everything from infrastructure to energy to technologies associated with planning. In the coming months, we anticipate a range of votes that may impact planners’ day-to-day work. We can, and should, play a role in ensuring any policy decisions reflect the expertise of the planning community.

Crafting Messages That Resonate

A key to success in this environment will be to develop and deliver stories that resonate with policy makers.

One way to do so is to enhance relationships with stakeholders and other potential coalition members. Sometimes the best people to deliver the message are those benefiting from outcomes. These groups can stress how important good planning is to creating safe, livable communities locally and across the country.

We also need to understand the needs of policy makers and their process for making decisions. The planning community plays an important role in getting decision makers the information and resources they need to make choices that benefit the people they represent.

Highlighting direct impacts, such as how a local business might benefit from transportation improvements, or how low-income individuals benefit from housing opportunities, will capture the attention of policy makers far better than facts and figures alone.  

Finally, we need to stress arguments that resonate in this environment. The fact that quality planning now helps save money in the future is an argument likely to gain traction. The power of planning to encourage economic development will also likely be appealing.

Join APA's Advocacy Network

Your APA policy team will be working to craft appealing messages and look forward to working with the planning community to identify the best ways to deliver those messages. To keep track of our work (and how you can be engaged), join APA's Planners Advocacy Network or follow us on Twitter

Top image: U.S. Capitol building. Photo by Flickr user Ted Eytan (CC BY-SA 2.0).

About the Author

Stephanie Vance

Stephanie Vance is the author of five books, including Citizens in Action: A Guide to Influencing Government and the recently released The Influence Game. She’s a 25-year veteran of the Washington, D.C., political scene and has held positions as a lobbyist, grassroots consultant, and congressional aide. Vance's experiences as a legislative director and chief of staff on Capitol Hill led her to found Advocacy Associates, a firm dedicated to helping individuals and organizations be both heard and agreed with in the legislative environment. To achieve that goal she provides in person and online trainings for thousands of advocates around the world.

December 2, 2016

By Stephanie Vance