The focus of government over the past two years has been very much driven by the pandemic. As we are now moving into a period of transition and recovery, there are a few things that you can keep in mind when engaging with government to increase your chances of success and maintain your own sanity.
Reconsider your timeframes
More so than ever, governments are balancing numerous priorities, with many of them urgent and emerging. It has limited resources to meet these, and behind the scenes, many departmental staff have been redeployed into other duties related to pandemic management and response. This has reduced government’s capacity, capability, and in other words, its bandwidth for dealing with proposals and representations from business and the wider community. Accepting that this is the case, being patient and factoring this into your timeframes (which may be very different from past experiences) will assist you in managing your own expectations.
Be understanding of the issues that government is dealing with
With the understanding that your issue will be one of many competing matters of varying priority, you should avoid criticising government if your proposal isn’t being given the priority you think it deserves in the first, or even the second, instance. Instead, check in regularly without becoming a nuisance so that you remain close to the top of the pile when the opportunity for consideration arises.
Follow Ministerial and departmental media announcements and tenders, where applicable, to ensure that you are keeping up to date with opportunities to work with government. This is particularly important if you are finding that your regular avenues of engagement and liaison are not as open or frequent. What issues are government dealing with? Does this present an opportunity for you to provide a ready-made solution to an identified problem?
Where possible, your proposal should reflect government language and show alignment with government policy. What evidence can you provide in support of your proposal? Have you done any modelling or polling? Is your proposal costed? Even ball-park figures or qualified evidence will assist in progressing the consideration of your issue.
Can you demonstrate what you have done, or are doing, in the meantime? Use this time to show initiative and progress what you can without government.
Always be professional
While we have all found the past two years stressful and challenging, it is as important as ever to remain calm, confident and credible when engaging with government. You will need to accept that meetings may need to be re-scheduled at short notice and/or take place over platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Very importantly, provide a single, well thought out proposal rather than a collection of emails. To comply with the State Records Act, every email or letter received by government must be logged and then will need to be referenced in the response being prepared. Submitting multiple letters and follow-ups creates delays and potential confusion.
Contact CGM for advice and assistance with your government engagement.