Purpose: Back Home Visits help raise the profile of civil engineering among lawmakers and provide Society members with the opportunity to develop relationships with their elected officials. Through Back Home Visits, a civil engineer has the opportunity to:
Educate your lawmakers on civil engineering issues;
Establish yourself as an expert on these issues;
Offer your expertise to lawmakers and staff.
Format: Back Home Visits have advantages over meetings with legislators in Washington, D.C. or another venue:
Identify the district scheduling contact: Call the Washington, D.C. office and ask for the full name, phone, fax and email address for the district scheduling contact. Some lawmakers have Washington, D.C. staff manage the entire schedule, while some split it between Washington and district staff.
Send written meeting request: Send a written request to the scheduler's attention.
Follow-up request: You will likely have to follow up on your written request with multiple phone calls and/or emails to set up a mutually convenient time for a meeting. Remember to be as flexible as possible! Members of Congress have many demands on their time.
Prepare for the discussion: We recommend you prepare one or two specific issues to discuss with your Representative - any more than this and you risk losing focus and your message won't be as strong.
Briefing materials are also available on the ASCE Government Relations webpage or contact us directly.
Your lawmaker will be particularly interested in how issues will affect people and businesses in his or her Congressional district. Take a little time to identify some points of local interest relative to the issues you intend to discuss. For example, in the case of the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act, identify local dams that might benefit from federal funding through this program and consider property/lives that might be loast in the event of failure. Or transportation funding: How many jobs could be created/lost? Road congestion that will worsen, etc.
You can get background information on your legislators through the Click and Connect website
- enter your zip code to identify your elected officials and view biographical information.
Follow-up: After the meeting, it is a good idea to send a follow-up message thanking the Representative and/or staff members for their time. Use this opportunity to:
Restate your positions on the issues discussed;
If appropriate, press for a commitment from the Representative on an issue;
Answer any questions that you could not answer in the meeting.
Given the uncertainty of delivery times of U.S. mail to Congressional offices, you should email or fax your message to your Representative. You can use the Click and Connect with Congress advocacy website to send your follow-up message.
Please let ASCE Government Relations know how your meeting went. Send us an email at email@example.com with some quick notes or complete the online feedback form.
It is important to remember that the Back Home Visit is intended to be the starting point for an on-going relationship between you and your elected official. It is up to you to contact him or her on a regular basis to make sure your views on civil engineering issus are being heard. ASCE's government relations staff can provide you with assistance.
For more information contact us:
ASCE Government Relations
101 Constitution Avenue, NW
Suite 375 East
Washington, D.C. 20001