At some point, the federal government affects how we do business. Whether it’s a day in court, tax collection or a traffic jam due to a backed-up polling place on Election Day, we’ve all had some experience with the government altering the course of our day and lives. However, sometimes there is a bit more of a direct or intense experience with the federal government, like receiving a warning letter, a Congressional inquiry, or a subpoena to testify in federal court.
While each is uniquely different, you will ultimately find yourself asking, what is it that they (the government) want? Much of this is shaped on the part of the government you are interacting with. While each one may find itself more important than the other two branches of government, (these are, after all, systems run by people and people do make mistakes) our federal government has three co-equal branches, executive, legislative and judicial. These branches ensure a unique system of checks-and-balances. Each branch has a distinct role to play, and understanding that role is critical when you are involved in a more intimate setting or exchange with the federal government.
More than likely, you will be most affected by a government agency. Government agencies (executive branch) are charged with implementing and regulating policies and laws enacted by the legislative branch or reconciled by the judicial branch. In theory, such regulations are in place to ensure that the markets run effectively and fairly. They also usually have as a part of their mission a focus on consumer protection; the most popular would be the theme of public safety and/or health. These agencies are directed from the chief executive, the president, that regulations are needed because there are certain environmental, social and public goods, services, and trusts that are not addressed or adequately addressed within the market.
Now that we know a little more about what a particular branch is after, we can ask how our needs from that branch are compatible with theirs. For example, if a firm receives a warning letter on claims that a firm may not necessarily agree with, should they go into the agency and talk about how effective their product is? How great of a seller it is? How much money they’ve made?
In short, no; the firm should look for areas of common interest, like what is the firm doing to ensure consumer protection and safety. After all, it is the interest of both the agency and a company to provide access to safe products. It is these sorts of insights into the mind of a branch of government that are critical to productive interactions under an array of circumstances. In addition to the mind of the branch, also consider the external factors affecting that branch – funding, resources, media and other public pressures are realities for agencies and the other branches of government. Those factors are likely on the top of the mind of the agency during your meeting.
So if there is a way to connect on that front, you may also better establish yourself as someone who can do business, and business with the government.