On September 13, the Atlanta Chapter sent two delegates to the IFMA Advocacy Day in Washington DC. John Means and Christine Neldon participated in a day of training followed by a day of advocating FM priorities on Capitol Hill. This year’s hot topics were:
Appointing an FM to the Public Buildings Reform and Savings Board – There will be six members to this Board appointed by Congress and President Trump. Their focus will be the realignment of the Federal Real Estate portfolio to reduce waste, increase productivity and ensure that federal buildings are assets, not liabilities. While many of the members of this board will likely be Real Estate professionals, it is important to have someone who can evaluate the operational cost and functionality of a building versus just the real estate value.
Perkins Act Reauthorization – when this act is reauthorized, there is a need to add language that includes FM training. As the profession continues to grow and a significant portion of the current workforce retires, there is a critical need for trained and certified FMs. Funding is needed to prepare the workforce of the future.
Implementation of the Federal Buildings Personal Training Act (FBPTA) – if buildings are maintained properly by qualified FMs, then they will perform better and retain value. GSA staff need to become trained and certified for higher performance. While this act was passed it was not adequately funded or promoted and needs further support.
High Performance Building Caucus – this group in the US Congress was formed to heighten awareness and inform policymakers about the major impact buildings have on the health, safety and welfare of workers. Working with the private sector, this group works on developing solutions to a variety of building issues.
Other issues discussed during the day were the need for more specific FM technical training in schools, improved infrastructure throughout the nation and better water use legislation.
Advocacy Day started with a series of presentations from Congressmen to the group on relevant issues. Congressman Pete Sessions graciously offered the use of the House Rules Committee Hearing Room located in the Capitol Building. It is the last place a bill goes for discussion before being presented on the floor for a vote. Its wood paneling, historical paintings, exquisite chandelier and painted ceiling made an impressive backdrop for the morning kick-off.
Around 11 am, groups left for individual meetings in Congressman and Senator’s offices. John and Christine had separate meetings with Cory Gattie (Legislative Correspondent for Senator Johnny Isakson) and Tripp Cofield (Legislative Counsel for Congressman Rob Woodall). We also visited other offices to drop off materials and talk to available staff. At the end of the day, there were more presentations and face time with several congressmen interested in FM related topics.
Overall, it was a fascinating and informative trip. IFMA is very interested in hearing if you have any issues you want to advocate. Contact Jeff Johnson (703 518 8600, firstname.lastname@example.org) with any suggestions you may have.