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Strengthening the Voice of Architects in Government

The AIA represents the interests of architects before federal, state, and local governments and other policy-making bodies and organizations. This outreach, coupled with sustained member participation and active involvement in the political process, enables the AIA to advocate on behalf of legislative, regulatory, and related issues important to AIA members. Contact the AIA Cincinnati Advocacy group here.

Architects need to get involved in the political process for three good reasons:

Architects impact the lives of every man, woman and child. Our profession employs more than 281,000 Americans. Architects drive the design/construction sector of our nation’s gross domestic product, which represents over 8 percent of the economy. We can and must apply our skills and knowledge to the political and government policy process.

Architects need a strong voice on a wide range of issues from community design to transportation planning, energy and water consumption to education and historic preservation, housing and building codes to green building standards and construction permitting, public procurement and project delivery to professional licensing and continuing education.

The only way we’ll be heard on these issues is to speak with one voice – with the grassroots strength to back it up. We need to be active participants in the policy-making process. That can be done both as citizens and through our professional association, the American Institute of Architects.

That’s why the AIA is making a major new effort to give its 73,000 members more opportunities to participate. That’s good for architects. That’s good for America.

It’s easy to take for granted what you already have. But architects cannot rest on past battles won. We must be vigilant to defend vital public policies every time Congress is in session, every time a state legislature meets, every time a city council is called to order. It’s a fact that other groups pour massive amounts of money and manpower into their political and lobbying operations.

And when they come up against architects, guess who’s going to win if we’re not in the game? Case in point: The federal government now uses qualifications-based selection (QBS) to hire architects and engineers. So do 47 states. But everyday, somebody somewhere wants to change that. They want to chip away at QBS and bring back old low-bid rules.

Architects have to be ready for those fights. Professional licensing standards are another major issue that architects need to defend. Do you want more people practicing architecture who aren’t licensed architects? Of course not. But some interest groups and politicians do. And they’re looking for every chance to erode professional health and safety standards.

The list goes on:

  • Rational project delivery methods…
  • Fair civil-liability laws…
  • Discouraging use of stock-school plans…
  • Sales-tax exemptions…
  • Consistent codes and standards…

They all matter. And they’re all under constant attack. That’s why the AIA, both at home and in Washington, D.C., needs a strong government advocacy program. That’s where you come in…

Gone are the days when architects quietly sat back, allowing others to take the lead. Architects have a vision for America, and the AIA has a bold, aggressive new issue agenda that reflects our values as well as our practice needs:

  • Sustainable, healthy, livable communities.
  • New incentives for affordable housing, green buildings, historic preservation and Brownfield renewal.
  • Energy and water conservation.
  • Better, safer schools and civic spaces.
  • Affordable health insurance for small businesses.Liability laws that minimize lawsuit abuse.
  • Reduced permitting delays.
  • Clear buildings codes and accessibility guidelines.
  • Sound licensing regulations.

It’s time to act. After all, if we don’t, who will? Unfortunately, the values we as architects hold dear are often ignored in the political arena. Louder, better financed groups frequently control the agenda. But that has to stop. And together we have the power to stop it.

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