The marketplace is awash with disrupters seeking to leave their stamp on entrenched industries and out-of-date technologies. Without careful planning, however, these entrepreneurs and their startups could be thwarted by another disruptive force – the federal government.

If the past couple of years have had a single buzzword, it would be “disruption”. Innovators and entrepreneurs have been unsettling industries left and right; changing the landscape of health care, transportation, technology and many others. 

The bigger the change or impact, the more likely a disrupter may draw the scrutiny of policymakers and regulators. The federal government – whether it be Congress or the Executive Branch – has the ability to stop a new company in its tracks.

Yet, many new companies fail to realize the importance of having a government affairs strategy – the same way they would a public relations or investor relations strategy. There are a number of reasons a young company, trying to break down established norms, should consider building a government and regulatory affairs strategy in their early days.

Here are a few: 

  1. Thousands of pieces of legislation are introduced each year and often things move quickly. All it takes is one piece of legislation or one amendment to impact a company’s operation so it’s important for companies of all sizes and age to monitor these discussions and be prepared to engage early on in the process so that Members understand the impact of their policies.
  2. The Executive Branch has fairly broad authority to make regulatory changes without sign-off from Congress. If a company is regulated by the federal government – or could be – it’s important to have your voice heard during this process. 
  3. For many early-stage companies, the government represents a potential business partner. For example, innovators in the health care or defense space may look to public programs to deploy their product or service. The government can often be resistant to change so building relationships with procurement officers and other agency officials early can help ease the process.

The bottom line is innovators and disrupters in heavily regulated industries need to consider engaging government as a key tenant of their growth strategy.


About the Authors

Molly McDonnell
Winning Strategies Washington

Molly McDonnell specializes in health care, with a particular focus on patient advocacy. Molly guides clients on issues ranging from biomedical research and innovation to public health, as well as Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. Molly translates and distills complex policies and regulations into clear, digestible information that helps clients navigate Capitol Hill and advance their policy agendas. She is expert at helping clients develop long-term, win-win relationships with decision-makers on Capitol Hill and within relevant Executive Branch agencies in support of their respective agendas.

In addition to expert policy analysis and counsel, Molly provides client with additional key services, including strategic planning and messaging, social media strategy, and writing and editing. Whether it’s writing or editing a grant, drafting a blog post or call to action, or crafting a Tweet in support of a client’s agenda, Molly’s versatility is an incredible asset to WSW’s clients.

Having served as Senior Health Policy Advisor for Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Molly maintains very close relationships with the professional staff of the Energy & Commerce Committee. She also works closely with the House Ways & Means Committee and House and Senate Republican Leadership, and with key federal agencies such as HHS, CMS, FDA, and HRSA.

Bobby Clark
Of Counsel
Winning Strategies Washington

Bobby Clark has considerable expertise in public health policy, including the regulation of foods, drugs, medical devices, and tobacco. He also counsels clients on biomedical research and health innovation, public insurance plans including Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP, and delivery system and payment reforms.

Bobby is known for his skilled policy and regulatory analysis, expert strategic planning and counsel, and successful project and process management. Clients also rely on Bobby’s exceptional writing and editing skills to help them hone their message both on and off Capitol Hill.

As a former Counselor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Bobby maintains close relationships with current and former executive branch officials at HHS, and also works closely with policy experts within academic institutions and think tanks, as well as health industry business leaders. Bobby’s résumé also includes time as a Policy Advisor on the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, where he worked for many years for Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), assisting with the writing of the Affordable Care Act and other major pieces of legislation. Bobby also worked as a Senior Manager at PwC’s Health Research Institute.

About Winning Strategies Washington

Winning Strategies Washington (WSW) has helped numerous clients navigate the complexity of the federal government. If there is one thing we’ve learned, it’s the earlier you engage, the better. 

Our team of bipartisan government relations experts spent years on Capitol Hill and throughout the Executive Branch. We know what works and what doesn’t. WSW stands ready to work with innovative companies to carefully tailor a government relations strategy to fit the needs of your endeavor and to best position your organization for success.

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