Policy Trends, The Federal Shutdown, and a 90% Furlough for EPA Employees

The public policy panel at Commodity/PROcurement EDGE, moderated by MetalMiner’s Lisa Reisman and featuring Raj Sharma (Co-Founder and CEO of Censeo Consulting), Jennifer Diggins (Director of Public Affairs at Nucor), Collis Jones Jr. (Director of Congressional Affairs at John Deere), and Mark Pruitt (Illinois Community Choice Aggregation Network), got off to an exciting start with discussion and debate around the current state of nothingness in Washington. Yet stagnation and shutdown are not necessarily impacting current procurement contracts in federal procurement.

Public Policy Panel Debate: Lisa Reisman, Jennifer Diggins, Mark Pruitt, Raj Sharma, and Collis Jones (left to right)

Public Policy Panel Debate: Lisa Reisman, Jennifer Diggins, Mark Pruitt, Raj Sharma, and Collis Jones (left to right)

In this regard, Raj Sharma observed that “when you are looking at decisions being made now, the funding came in during 2013 [already]. The potential for the shutdown to impact public sector suppliers will really start when the topic of 2014 funding comes up.”

Jennifer Diggins cast a broader light on the government shutdown, saying, “For every single day we’re focused on the government shutdown, we’re not focused on enacting better policy for US companies and manufacturers.” On the topic of the debt ceiling, panelists suggested that “we are going to go to the brink” when it comes to partisan bickering.

Collis Jones called out the need to overcome this partisanship despite a political outlook that suggests continued divisions in Washington. As he observes, “Going into the 2014 elections, I don’t see them looking much differently than 2012. This calls out the need to find what we can coalesce around and to move forward.” What might this common ground be? Import/export and manufacturing policy, energy independence, export policy, and related areas could be areas of common ground, the panelists suggest.

But regulation is not an area of agreement. As Jennifer Diggins noted, “It did not break my heart that 90% of EPA employees have been furloughed [in the shutdown],” referencing an earlier statement from Mark Pruitt. Alas, not all government activity is conducive to enhancing output and driving manufacturing policy from the perspective of industrial companies – not to mention fostering common ground among constituents and business alike, for that matter! That said, I’m sure that all the panelists would agree that the EPA is always good for a laugh.

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