Thoughts from the New SIA Director of Government Relations

I am very excited to join the team at the Security Industry Association (SIA), which has a great track record of success in advocating for the security industry. Through more than a decade of congressional staff experience, I have seen that industry associations like SIA play an enormously important role in the democratic process. Free enterprise is a cornerstone of the American way of life, and associations allow the citizens involved to band together and speak with the one coordinated voice in the political process.  Smarter policies result when there is accountability and clear communication between those making the rules (i.e., the government) and those impacted. It’s vital to our system of self-government.

The security industry is delivering technological innovation that provides greater protections for people and assets.  The success of the industry is a win-win for the economy, the government entrusted with protecting our nation and for citizens going about their daily lives. SIA will be aggressively working at the state and federal level to shape a favorable operating environment for the industry, staying ahead of the curve by anticipating challenges and opportunities.

After a political roller-coaster ride in 2013 and an upcoming mid-term election this year, breakthroughs on major issues at the federal level are unlikely.  However, recent bipartisan agreements in Congress on the budget, appropriations and a host of smaller issues indicate a desire to break the gridlock and move forward where it is possible. This has resulted in a reduced likelihood of another government shutdown, relief from sequestration cuts at federal agencies, and giving Congress a running start at actually completing and passing fiscal year 2015 spending bills.

In other examples, the 2014 spending agreement included a new school safety initiative providing funds to schools for security improvements—a high priority for which SIA has strongly advocated at both the state and federal level—and lawmakers from both parties are poised to move forward on legislation authorizing and extending the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, which requires that certain chemical facilities meet site security standards.

We can also expect a high level of regulatory activity, which has increased dramatically in proportion to gridlock in Congress.  Last year, more than 80,000 pages were published in the Federal Register, and more than 100 regulations with an impact on the economy of greater than $100 million each were reviewed, an increase of 25 percent. This level of activity requires close monitoring and input to ensure new policies make sense and to reduce the burden of unnecessary or duplicative rules.

SIA stands ready to serve the needs of its members, and we need your involvement. Not only is it good for business, it’s a way to make sure you have a seat at the table as decisions affecting the industry are made in Washington and in state capitols throughout the nation.  Please drop me a line at jparker@securityindustry.org if there is anything I can do for you as the year unfolds.

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