About the Committee
The Committee on Government Relations is a subcommittee of the American Economic Association charged with representing the interests of the economics profession in Washington DC and other locations around the country without taking a position on questions of economic policy or on any partisan matter.
In 2009 the American Economic Association established a Government Relations Office (GRO) in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the office is to gather information about the activities of the federal government that affect the professional activities of economists. The office is staffed by a part-time professional with issues analysis and representation experience and knowledge of economics, statistics, and/or data policy.
The staff of the GRO is overseen by a Committee on Government Relations (AEACGR), appointed by the President of the AEA. The activities of the GRO, the AEACGR, and the
Association’s officers conform to the Association’s charter, which states, “The Association as such will take no partisan attitude, nor will it commit its members to any position on practical economic questions.”
The primary activities for the GRO include:
- Developing formal and informal sources of information about legislation, regulations and agency decisions that are relevant to the scientific interests of the AEA and informing the AEA leadership and any interested members about these matters. This will include, but is not limited to, information about current data collection plans, survey design issues, data and research funding, regulatory issues affecting research grant recipients, and regulatory issues affecting the use of publicly-collected data.
- Coordinating with other organizations in the D.C. area that share an interest in social science research, exchanging information with them and communicating their activities to the AEA leadership and any interested members. Such other organizations might include other professional societies, the National Association for Business Economics, any of the committees established to advise the federal government’s data collection and research agencies, the National Academies of Science, the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) or the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS).
- Promoting the value of economic analysis within the D.C. policy community by encouraging decision-makers and those who serve and inform them to draw on the intellectual resources of the economics profession. This would include educating decision-makers about the value of sound economic data and about the value of economic research to enhance the understanding of economic activity. To demonstrate the expertise that economists can bring to the policy table, the GRO, in consultation with the AEACGR, may put together information sessions for the policy community. Similarly, if asked to suggest economists with particular expertise on specific economic topics, the GRO, again in consultation with the AEACGR, may suggest credible names. The GRO should make sure that any information sessions or list of names reflect any substantial differences of opinion within the profession. On substantive policy issues that are controversial or partisan, members of the GRO and officers of the Association should make suggestions only as individuals, making clear that they are not doing so on behalf of the Association.
The American Economic Association engaged the services of a part-time person to open a Washington office and to represent the Association in Washington. This person performs the following services in accordance with the general direction provided by the AEA Executive Committee and in direct consultation with the AEA Committee on Government Relations. Duties and responsibilities of this individual include the following:
- Organize, prioritize, and facilitate discussions for conference calls with the AEA Committee on Government Relations, to be scheduled every three to four weeks.
- Attend the annual meeting of the Allied Social Sciences Association each January and meet in person with the AEA Committee on Government Relations to discuss government relations activities over the course of the year.
- Provide written reports on government relations activities to the AEA Executive Committee twice a year.
- Track published information about legislation, regulations and agency decision pertinent to the scientific interests of the AEA.
- Develop contacts with officials and staff members in the Congress and the Executive Branch, staff members of other professional associations, the Washington representatives employed by research universities, and other individuals who may be sources of relevant information about legislative, regulatory and other developments.
- Through a regular e-newsletter, broadcast emails, preparation of materials to be posted to the AEA website and other means, provide interested AEA members with timely information about legislation, regulations and agency decisions that may be pertinent to their scientific interests and with general information about how members who wish to do so may contact the relevant decision-makers.
- Work closely with other professional groups and coalitions whose interests overlap with those of the AEA.
- At the direction of the Committee on Government Relations, draft briefing materials for congressional meetings, including briefing memos for AEA participants and fact sheets and one-pagers for congressional staff, Members of Congress and Executive Branch officials.
- At the direction of the Committee on Government Relations, organize briefings for congressional staff.
- As appropriate, schedule and participate in courtesy visits and meetings of delegations of AEA members with congressional staff, members of Congress, and Executive Branch officials.
- As appropriate, respond to press inquiries.