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Evaluators Visit Capitol Hill (2013)



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)/SIGN-UP FORM

1) Do I need to sign-up to participate in this initiative?

Yes. The deadline to signup has past.

2) What is this initiative about?

Do you want to help AEA promote good federal evaluation policy? Have you ever wanted a tour of the Capitol and an opportunity to talk evaluation with policy makers? Now is your chance!

Through this initiative you will visit your congressperson’s office and speak with their congressional staffer(s), provide them with materials (provided to you by AEA) on AEA’s mission and on program evaluation, and answer staffer(s) questions about the American Evaluation Association. After your visit you will be asked to follow-up via email with the congressional staffer(s) you met and will be asked to complete a brief survey on your visit on how interested your congressperson is in the areas of government management and evaluation. Basically, you will expand what AEA’s Evaluation Policy Task Force is able to do in out-reach and engagement to Members of Congress, completing in a few days what could take the Task Force a few years.

If you are interested in participating in this initiative, please sign up using the on-line form at the bottom of the page. Please read through all the FAQs prior to signing up.

3) Is Congress in recess during the AEA conference?

Yes. Congress is scheduled to be in recess during the AEA conference. Never fear, this can work to your advantage. Although most congresspersons will likely not be in D.C. during the AEA conference, their congressional staffers will still be here. Congressional staffers likely will have more time to spend with you and to focus on your visit than if Congress was in session.

4) Why should I plan to speak with a congressional staffer?

Obviously, staffers will be in Washington during the time of the AEA conference, and therefore you should plan to speak with them. But, staffers also run the day-to-day machinery of legislative policy making. Staffers are the ones with their hands on the levers, buttons, and ropes. Perhaps a better analogy is that they are like the production staff of a television show or movie. If you want to get something done, start with the staffers.

There are all kinds of staffers with many different responsibilities. You will want to contact the staffer(s) who develop legislation. They are the ones who need to understand how evaluation can be used in the legislative process. If possible, request to meet with staff who deal with program management and program evaluation. Such staff will be the most valuable recipients of information, as they are often key researchers on the details of program evaluation and evaluation policies. These staff are often responsible for providing recommendations and information summaries on evaluation issues to staff directors and congressional members.

Members of Congress must vote on a dizzying array of topics each year. Their staff help keep them up to speed on the legislation they will vote on. However, most members have areas of special interest to them (e.g., education, defense, health, transportation, the environment, or government administration) and seek to be assigned to committees that develop legislation in areas. Their work in these committees eventually turns them into experts on their committees' topics. Because they vote on the early stages of legislation in their committees, they are very influential in shaping legislation before bills get to the floor of the House or Senate for all members to vote on.

So, if you also have interest in a particular policy area and the role that evaluation can have in helping policy makers make decisions about it, you should try to speak to the staff of a Member of Congress who is on one of the committees of the Senate or House of Representatives that deal with this topic. You will have your choice of a representative and two senators whose offices you can visit. If you are interested in a particular “area of interest” call each office or research on their website to identify which of your congressperson is most active/interested in your “area of interest.”

5) What will success for AEA look like?

A primary goal of your visit to Capitol Hill is to acquaint congressional staff and members with AEA members and the main messages of AEA:

• the key importance of program evaluation for understanding the effect of federal programs and for decision-making;
• that AEA is the professional organization of the practice of evaluation;
• that AEA can provide help in understanding what kind of evaluations can be used to address a variety of needs of policy makers;
• and that AEA can provide assistance in developing legislation that will link evaluations to the questions of legislators.

In making a visit to your congressperson’s office, you will have the opportunity to make contact with congressional staffers and let them see the “face of AEA.” Be sure to clarify that you are visiting them on behalf of AEA (a major professional organization and the focus of expertise on program evaluation), not for yourself or your own company/organization. Be sure to keep the conversations focused on AEA and the materials you are delivering. Be sure to keep the focus on program evaluation and do not let the conversation drift to particular legislative subjects (such as health care, educations, etc.), to your favorite methods of evaluation, or to your personal opinions (rather than the AEA organization message).

6) What will I do during my visit?

You will bring with you the official AEA portfolio folder which contains:

(1) the AEA Trifold,
(2) brief handouts from AEA on evaluation, and
(3) contact information of EPTF members.

You may pick these up at the AEA registration desk at the conference.

What to say?

Introduce yourself and explain that you are visiting on behalf of the AEA. Explain that you would like to drop off information about AEA, program evaluation, and how AEA can be helpful/useful to them. Provide them with ETPF contacts George Grob, Chair, Evaluation Policy Task Force, at GeorgeFGrob@CS.com, and Cheryl Oros, Consultant to the Evaluation Policy Task Force, at evaluationpolicy@eval.org

Chat about AEA, evaluation (from the handouts) and ask them if they have any questions or if they need anything from AEA. Explain what they in Congress can do—build evaluation into legislative requirements; increase the capacity for evaluation in federal agencies; articulate the evaluation questions that they would like answered about programs in legislation; and build in evaluation and an evaluation focus in programs right from the start. Thank them for their time and assure them that they can contact AEA for further information or assistance.

What to take away?

Gather contact information for further follow-ups from the person with whom you met. In addition, request contact information for other staff who may be key staff dealing with program management and program evaluation; or the key staff for other congressional members who may be interested in program evaluation.

7) When to follow up?/ What to provide at follow up?

After you return home, send an email to the person with whom you met. Provide a thank you note, offer further information on AEA, program evaluation, and attach the AEA Evaluation Policy Task Force “An Evaluation Roadmap for a More Effective Government.” Repeat the offer of AEA assistance in drafting evaluation components of legislation and provide contact information for AEA representatives. On the email, cc George Grob, Chair, Evaluation Policy Task Force, at GeorgeFGrob@CS.com, and Cheryl Oros, Consultant to the Evaluation Policy Task Force, at evaluationpolicy@eval.org.

You will also be asked to complete a brief survey on your experience. Your responses to the survey will go to the Evaluation Policy and Task Force and will help the Evaluation Policy Task Force: 1) know whether or not your Congressperson is interested in government management and program evaluation, and 2) help EPTF make future contacts in Congress. Click here to review the survey questions [link coming soon].

8) How do I schedule an appointment with a congressional staffer of my representative or senators?

You can use the links provided below to find the website of your representative and senators, learn more about their areas of special policy interest to them (e.g., education, defense, health, transportation, the environment, or government administration), and to see if they have a process on how to best schedule a meeting. We recommend that you wait to contact your representative or senators office until a few weeks before the AEA conference. Additional information/guidance will be provided closer to the time of the conference.

Find Your Representative

Find Your Senators

9) How can I know if someone from my area is also planning to visit my representative or senator?

To participate in this activity you will be required to complete a brief form at the bottom of this page that asks you to list your representative and senators. If we find multiple people from the same congressional district or state sign-up, we will let you know and will ask that you coordinate your office visit with others in your district/state so as not to have multiple participants contacting the same office for multiple visits.

10) I am a federal employee; can I participate in this initiative?

Each federal agency has slightly different rules about when and under what circumstances their employees can visit congress. There is no reason why you should not be able to participate, but we recommend that you check with the Ethics Officer or the Office of General Council at your agency to understand your agency’s rules related to this initiative.

11) How can I get a tour of the Capitol by visiting my representative's/senator's office?

Since you will be visiting Capitol Hill, it is a great opportunity to tour the Capitol building. Information on the types of Capitol tours can be found on the U.S. Capitol website at

Visit Capitol Hill – Suggested Itineraries

while information on how to book a tour can be found at

Visit Capitol Hill – Book a Tour

The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center recommends planning ahead to make sure that the type of tour you may want to take is available. While tours can be booked directly through the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, since you will be stopping by to visit the office of your congress member, we recommend booking tours through those offices.

12) How do I find the building where the office of my representative or senator is located?

To find serving members in the U.S. Senate of the 113th Congress, you can consult -

Find Your Senator’s Office

To find serving members in the U.S. House of Representatives, if you don't know who your representative is, go to:

Find Your Representative’s Office

In each case, you will see the address listed. You can also visit the senator’s or representative’s website where you will find a page link labeled contact, offices, map or directions. Alternatively, you can call their office and ask.

13) How do I get to Capitol Hill from the Washington Hilton (conference hotel)? Metro

If taking the Metro to Capitol Hill, the most direct route from the hotel where AEA is being held is to enter the Metro at the Dupont Circle Metro station (located at Connecticut Ave/P Street). Take the Metro (red line) in the direction of Glenmont. At the Metro Center station continue on if going to union station, or change to the Orange/Blue line if going to Capital South. . The total cost for taking the Metro will depend on whether you purchase a paper ticket or reusable-card, and the time of day you travel. The total cost for one person should be less than $10.

Metro Map

House Side (south side of Capitol)

Capitol South Metro Stop

Blue Line or Orange Line: Take the Metro Blue Line or the Metro Orange Line to the Capitol South station. The Capitol South Metro elevator is on the Northwest corner of 1st Street SE and D Street SE.

Senate Side (north side of Capitol)

Union Station Metro Stop

Red Line: Take the Metro Red Line to the Union Station stop. The Union Station Metro elevator is between the Amtrak station and mezzanine on 1st Street NW at the Amtrak Station entrance.

Taxi

It is quite easy to hail a taxi cab in Washington, D.C., simply walk to the intersection of any busy street and raise your hand. To get to Capitol Hill from the hotel where AEA is being held will cost between $15 and $25 depending on the time of day and if more than one person rides with you in the cab.

14) What should I expect from security in my representative's or senator’s building?

Be prepared to pass through airport-like security as you enter all government office buildings. You will be required to present all packages, purses, backpacks, etc., for inspection. You will likely need to take off your belt and shoes and send them through an x-ray machine. You will likely not be allowed to bring in any outside food or beverages. Will need to pass through a metal detector, and may be patted down. Please plan sufficient time to get through security to make your meeting on time.

15) What is the time-line for this initiative?

July 1, 2013 – September 6, 2013

Sign-up for this initiative using the on-line form below

Early September, 2013

An EPTF member will invite you to a conference call to discuss this initiative and advise you on how to schedule a visit with your congressperson, discuss in more detail what to expect during your visit, and answer your questions.

Late September /Early October 2013

Contact your congressional office and make an appointment with the appropriate staffer(s). The days we recommend for visiting Capitol Hill are – October 16, October 17 and October 18.

AEA conference (October 14, 2013 – October 19, 2013)

Pick up your packet of materials during AEA conference check-in for your visit, or you may print materials from on-line.

Visit the office of your representative at the scheduled time.

Post AEA conference (Late October 2013)

Send an email to your congressional contact(s) thanking them for the visit and providing them with additional materials/information.

Complete a survey to provide information about your visit to the EPTF.

16) When was the FAQs last updated?

September 8, 2013

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