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Monthly President & Vice President Update

 February 2024 | Wayne Sandberg, P.e., VP - North East region

As county engineers, we are responsible for the infrastructure that ensures safety, efficiency, and prosperity of our communities. As part of that responsibility, it is our duty to ensure that our legislative and policy priorities are understood and addressed by decision-makers. That is why it is crucial for us to come together in Washington DC to advocate for what is important to us. Washington DC serves as the heart of our nation's political landscape, where policies are formulated, and decisions are made that directly impact our work. By personally engaging with federal lawmakers, policymakers, and implementing agencies, we strengthen the collective voice of NACE and increase the chances of influencing positive change.

Advocating from home states has its merits. We are well-versed in the unique challenges our counties face, and our local knowledge is important when conveying our concerns. However, it is essential to recognize that decisions made in Washington DC have far-reaching implications that extend beyond state boundaries. Our association's legislative and policy priorities often require federal funding, cooperation, and coordination among various agencies. Being physically present in DC allows us to engage directly with the policymakers who control these critical resources.

It is for these reasons that NACE hosted its annual Washington D.C. Fly In in early February. With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in 2021 our focus for this year was to meet with agency staff to advocate for our goals related to policy implementation. A group of county engineers from across the nation assembled to represent NACE in meetings with staff from the White House, Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and the US Department of Transportation (US DOT).

At the White House we discussed the importance for counties to be able to be successful at accessing discretionary Federal Grant opportunities such as Safe Streets for All (SS4A) and RAISE. These messages were repeated with our meeting with the US DOT - where we emphasized that the process for discretionary grant opportunities should be improved to allow for easier access and more awards to Counties, who stand ready to successfully implement important projects. Our meeting with FEMA was especially fruitful, where we talked at length about improving our working relationship by continuing to work together to perform a “Business Process Review” that focuses on improving the partnership between FEMA and Counties.

By coming together in Washington DC, we demonstrate our commitment and unity as county engineers. Our collective presence carries a powerful message – that we are dedicated professionals who will go the extra mile to champion the needs of our communities. We believe that policymakers are more likely to take notice when they see a united front of passionate advocates from across the country, all working towards a common goal.

Advocating for our legislative and policy priorities is a critical responsibility, and therefore is a high priority for NACE. By coming together in Washington DC, we will continue to amplify our voices, demonstrate our commitment, and increase our chances of creating lasting partnerships with agency staff and policymakers.

 

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