The cover story for the October issue of AGA’s flagship publication, American Gas magazine, is an interview with AGA President and CEO David Parker in which he shares his thoughts on his 13 years as AGA’s leader, the changes to both the natural gas industry and AGA over those 13 years, and what he thinks the future of AGA and the industry will look like. The following is an edited excerpt of one of that interview’s questions and answers. Look for others in subsequent weeks or read the whole interview here.
AMERICAN GAS: What other specific measures [related to increasing AGA’s visibility and voice on Capitol Hill] can you talk about? Right away you decided we needed a business operating plan, for example.
PARKER: Well, to me, increasing our visibility meant increasing it in the federal arena, which is in Washington, D.C. Whether it was working on Capitol Hill or in the regulatory agencies, we needed to be closer to the power centers, so we ultimately ended up at 400 North Capitol Street, which is very close to Congress, just two blocks from FERC [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission], just across the Mall from the Department of Transportation and Office of Pipeline Safety, as well as just down the street from EPA [the Environmental Protection Agency]. Bottom line, we are much closer to the bodies that oversee our members’ legislative and regulatory priorities.
As for the business operating plan, when I came to AGA I discovered that many of our activities had very little focus—there was no central measuring stick that staff with management responsibilities could use to review how their responsibilities fit in with the association’s ongoing priorities. So … we developed a plan to poll our members to determine their advocacy priorities. With those priorities established—it was basically a scorecard—we then created a plan to determine how those priorities would be achieved, what resources they needed, how well we were progressing and so forth. That’s how the business operating plan was established, and every February at our board meeting, both our advocacy priorities and business operating plan are approved by the board.
Then at subsequent meetings throughout the year we measure our progress, and at the end of the year we tally up how we did. And I’m pleased to say that over the last dozen years that we’ve had this plan, we have successfully accomplished 75 percent of the things that we sought to do. We moved probably another 15 to 20 percent of those remaining items forward—they are ongoing. As for those three or four key things we didn’t accomplish, in large part it wasn’t because we didn’t manage them properly. It was because the federal or legislative agenda changed on us.