Engineering government

By Derek Vanstone | September 28, 2018

Regardless of size, scope, or sector, many engineering projects today need consistent and positive interaction with government officials to be successful. Whether it is the expansion of a government-owned nuclear power plant, acquiring the proper permits to build a new diamond mine in the Arctic, or redesigning one of the world’s busiest train crossings, knowing how to work with government can smooth a project’s financing, safety, and on-time delivery.

It takes concerted, sustained effort to establish and nurture these strong, productive relationships. And it’s much easier said than done. Anyone who’s ever renewed their driver’s license knows that governments are complex, bureaucratic organizations with their own ways of doing things. Even in best-case scenarios, they can present no end of obstacles to the completion of projects, especially the large, public-service and community-impacting ones that we work on for our clients.

Overcoming these obstacles requires a detailed knowledge about the structure and decision-making ways of governments. Working through the processes—how the various departments and regulators operate—is much more effective when you understand how decisions are made and you can leverage long-standing relationships and personal and corporate reputations. The power of reputation and personal relationships is a big part of the foundation on which Gerry Hatch built our company. It’s illustrated in spades when it comes to government dealings.

Effective interactions with government can certainly smooth the paths to obtaining permits, passing inspections, and obtaining financing. But they become essential when we’re trying to secure projects directly from federal, provincial/state, and municipal governments themselves. Infrastructure projects are booming all over the world. Mining is driving new developments in more remote locations. The need for clean power and carbon-free technology has never been greater. All require working closely with governments for financing, environmental protection, Indigenous issues, public and worker safety, and so on. Having a guide who knows the best routes through the territory can move these megaprojects forward more quickly, without compromising safety and efficiency. It’s one more way that we provide value—giving Hatch and our clients a definite competitive edge that bolsters their chances of obtaining government approvals or winning government bids.

Dealing with governments has always been part of our business, and our focus on government relations is an important component of our mix of professional services. By providing a more consistent and proactive communications strategy with government bodies, we ensure that our clients are involved at the earliest point in the decision-making process. A greater, more honed focus on government relations raises our clients’ profiles in the governmental sphere, making them a more familiar entity in all the inevitable negotiations and correspondences. And, in those special cases where the client we’re trying to win is some form of government itself, we’re in a much stronger position to target, bid on, and ultimately win the work we’re best suited to do.

Governments around the world share many of the same core interests and tend to be structured in similar ways. Many share comparable decision-making systems. So this consistent, proactive approach to government relations delivers benefits to Hatch clients globally. All over the world, our clients are able to rely on us to provide expertise and experience, and we do it with the same rigor and diligence we bring to managing all the other aspects of their projects.

As with everything we do, integrity and reputation is a priority. Consistent focus on our dealings with public entities helps ensure that my colleagues at Hatch, our clients, and the officials we deal with are confident that everything is being done to achieve the objective without any risk of reputational harm.

In today’s often tumultuous political climate, effective and consistent government relations are more important than ever. As laws, policies and trade agreements change, grow, and become more refined, our government relations capability gives our clients peace of mind. They’ll know that regardless of how rapidly government policies may shift, Hatch’s government relations and regulatory affairs is on top of it.

Follow Hatch on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up with Hatch’s latest projects and reach out if you have any questions about our government relations program.