Research Projects

Building An Effective Government Relations Function

Assigned to Kenneth Gwyn
Last Edited by Kenneth Gwyn

This project will research the complex intergovernmental relationships (federal, state, and local) for which airports operate and offer sugggestions, including best practices, for being effective in these relationships.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

Modern day airports operate in a very complex environment. Not only do they have a direct legal connection to at least one governing agency for which they get their authority, airports must interact with and report to various other government agencies. There are strong, financial, regulatory and political relationships between airports and these other government agencies.

Personnel with government relations responsibilities need to have a particular skill set and utilize specific tools to be effective in this arena. An effective government relations program must understand the intergovernmental relationships in which they are operating; recognize the intergovernmental relationships that are important to maintain; develop systems for monitoring information about legislative, regulatory and political dynamics impacting the organization and developing the capacity effectively and appropriately responding to the events when appropriate.

There are various models used by airports to carry out government relations strategies. Research is needed to identity the types of organizational structures and tools for this function.

Particular questions deserving of consideration by a project team are;
1. What type of intergovernmental relationships impact the the business of airports?
2. What level of staffing and financial resources are necessary for the government relations function?
3. How do you establish a third party consultant agreement for carrying out this function?
4. What skills, experience and background are for government relations professional?
5. How do you develop a strategic plan for government regulations?
6. How do government relations professionals monitor legislative, regulatory and political affairs of intergovernmental partners?
7. What capabilities are critical to effectiveness in this function (developing a legislative agenda, lobbying, grassroots advocacy, preparing testimony, etc.)?
8. How do airports coordinate with industry associations in government relations functions?

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

Develop a guidebook that can be used by government relations professionals or staff with those responsibilities that offers practical information and best practices used by airports. It is anticipated that at a minimum, the guidebook will discuss the complex nature of intergovernmental relations that airports operate and offer practical information that will help them succeed in their dealings with other governments.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)
  1. Research of best practices
  2. Do a literature search of public and private sector government relations materials
  3. Consult with key industry associations to determine how they conduct and can assist airports
  4. Research the structures that airports operate and the intergovernmental relationships that impact them
  5. Inventory the organizational structure and staffing requirements for government relations functions being used at airports
Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

$300,000 staff time and expenses - Estimate

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

None that I know of.

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Idea No. 176