When our client came to Cansler Consulting changes were about to occur in the federal government procurement inventory processes that would cause them to lose a multi-million dollar, decades-long established export market. It would mean about a 15% loss to the company’s annual earnings. In addition, losing this market would cause hundreds of lost American jobs and other jobs in the foreign country of destination.
Our client had not been previously engaged in a government relations program so they were unaware that from 2004 to 2014 the U.S. government had developed an overall plan to transfer inventory programs and begin adapting to new and varying inventory technologies and enhanced distribution methods. In addition, the draw-down of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and the federal budget climate affected the U.S. government’s supply business. Thus, one of the objectives of the plan included reducing distribution centers. Federal agencies were beginning to implement their plan.
Cansler Consulting’s advocacy plan began by engaging the local people who would be impacted most by the issue – those who stood to lose their employment. We learned about their manufacturing processes and the company’s supply chains so that we could eventually explain it clearly to lawmakers and regulatory officials. During this portion of the client engagement we surfaced a potential problem that needed further vetting. This led us to engage the U.S. Trade Representatives Office and the Embassy of destination regarding issues surrounding “significant transformation” of a product in international commerce. Significant transformation occurs when an item undergoes a major change resulting from processing or manufacturing in the country claiming origin in form, appearance, nature or character. It is a legal principle designed to determine the origin of the item for purposes of recording trade data, assessing duties, marking, or applying other measures.¹
Cansler Consulting engaged select non-profit associations to ensure they understood our client’s position and the need for a legislative remedy. While the non-profits could not advocate on behalf of one entity, their general policy statements were helpful to our endeavors.
Cansler Consulting created infographics and other electronic communication mediums and began contacting members of the House and Senate specifically targeting members of Congress who’s congressional districts and States were directly impacted. Subsequently we began contacting members of Congress serving on the multiple Committees of jurisdiction regarding the issue including the Committees on Agriculture, Appropriations, Armed Services, Budget, Energy and Commerce and Government Oversight.
Due to our approach and the gravity of the issue, members of Congress and their staff began discussing ways to offer a legislative solution. At the direction of members of Congress congressional staff and the Office of Legislative Counsel developed appropriate legislative language to remedy the challenge. A major reauthorization bill with jurisdiction was selected for its inclusion.
Congress recognized the potential for U.S. job losses and a disruption in an international supply chain. The reauthorization legislation was enacted containing the provisions stating that our client’s product shall not be subject to certain domestic source restrictions.
Subsequent efforts were conducted to closely monitor and engage federal agencies during promulgation of regulations to ensure congressional intent was strictly followed.
¹ U.S. International Trade Commission