We are in the midst of a full court press in Congress, primarily with Republicans in the House. We really need Republicans on our bill. I know our network is doing a lot of good things with CSBG dollars, but I have to admit I get frustrated with how we talk about it. Rather, I find it frustrating that it takes so much digging around to get answers about what we are doing. At times, it feels that some agencies take for granted how they use CSBG dollars. Many times, when I ask CAPs what innovative things they are doing, they mention Head Start, then silence. The frustrating thing is I know we are doing a lot of good and unique things with those dollars. Perhaps it is such a small part of an agency's budget that many people have lost sight of the significance, the flexibility, the uniqueness that CSBG provides. That makes it difficult for us back here in Washington. We have to sharpen our skills in terms of how we talk about our programs, how we talk about what our agencies do, and how we explain who we are. I think in the last ten years, our message, our description of what we do, the role we play, our mission, our performance in communities, has really atrophied. We are not verbally sharp. We are not as coherent as we need to be. And we need to get better.
The other thing that is clearly apparent is that we have a let go of some Congressional relationships. The fact that a Member may only be in their first or second term does not mean we should not be reaching out to them. In fact, that is just the time to do so. A new elected Member provides a great opportunity for us to develop a new relationship. In fact, it is usually the recently elected Members that seem to be more eager to learn about their community, about programs serving their communities, about the people in their communities. And mist importantly, their legislative agendas are still unformed. That is exactly who we need to be reaching out to, talking with, and influencing. We can provide insight to new Members. We are not taking advantage of those situations. I am finding those relationships do not exist.
This summer’s process has been very insightful and instructive. We have to step up our game.