The worst possible thing is for Congress to be surprised.
In the day of reduced budgets, the "gray area" for program survival
increases. The slightest appearance of DoD deception or inconsistency can be
Don't talk above or below your level of expertise or concern.
Stick to the subject.
Don't encroach into someone else's area of
expertise. Respect territorial rights (read "rice bowls"), or it will be done
Present a united front. Savvy Hill staffers can detect weak links and why.
If your principal job is maintaining your program year-to-year, you
lack credibility on the Hill.
Keep the antenna tuned toward a "hidden
agenda" when requests for information arrive.
Don't be overzealous in
selling a weapon system once you've decided what you want. That's the user's
Be careful about promising or making commitments if
there is a possibility you can't deliver. Sell it realistically based upon
Before answering an inquiry, check the facts and what has already been
published or said to the Congress on that subject. Inaccuracy or inconsistency
from your command's position is dynamite waiting for the match. It is reason
enough to cause a mark on your program.
Numbers change as quickly as
stock market averages. Make sure you have the latest. If they've changed since
you last talked with Congress, fully explain the changes.
hearings and reviews are not fact finding missions. The committee and staff
know in advance what is to be said and accomplished. Certainly, you run a risk
if you blindside or surprise them.
Respond equally as fast and
efficiently to all Members regardless of party or ideology. Even minority
Members wield influence on issues through committee work, networking, and
Don't go to Congress and spill your soul. Show restraint, but do not hedge.
It is easier to add information than subtract.
legislative liaison office and your boss after you have contact. You may not
be obligated to heed their advice, but it's good practice to keep them
informed. In a backfire, they can provide your case with Exhibit A one way or
If you raise an issue, be prepared to pursue it at some length. Information
volunteered is information explained.
Don't be afraid to respond. If you don't know, don't guess. Say: "I'll find
out and get back to you."
When urgent phone calls come from staff,
understand why the information is wanted immediately.