I’m Robert Allen and I’m running for Region X Vice President. I ask for your vote because I‘m just a regular NARFE member just like you who wants to see our organization continue to thrive. We’ve just celebrated our centennial and I want to make sure we can continue our strong legacy of advocacy for years to come. That’s my goal, as I’m sure it’s yours. North Carolina NARFE has often been recognized for its vision for the future. I’m proud to have served as the NCNARFE Federation President and I’d like your support to extend this fine North Carolina tradition of service to our members across Region X.
We can’t move forward, though, without some changes. We can’t continue doing the same things over and over and expect different results. We have three primary areas we haven’t focused on, so something’s gotta give. However, we can’t address those areas until we look at the role of the National Executive Board (NEB).
We must focus on leading. The National Executive Board’s (NEB) job is to lead our organization, by maintaining full oversight of NARFE. The NEB sets the overall direction and goals of the organization and institutes policies to ensure our advocacy efforts continue to be successful. The NEB needs to take a hard look at where we are and where we need to be and as Region X’s Vice President, I will get us on track. If we can do this, we can focus on the three primary areas.
The first area, as I see it, is that our mission of protecting our earned pay and benefits is our primary goal. Our mission must drive everything NARFE does. Sustaining our outstanding advocacy program, from our superb headquarters advocacy department to the hundreds of members who work across the country at the grassroots level, should be the aim of every action we take. This ranges from increasing our membership to maintaining sound fiscal policy. I firmly believe the membership has solid ideas that can keep our advocacy efforts strong for years to come, but that requires continuous communication between the NEB and the field. I will focus on this as your Region X RVP and it will my duty to be in constant communication with everyone in Region X. All our advocacy policies and efforts must be the end result.
Second, increasing our membership is absolutely critical. We’ve lost over 300,000 members since the early 80s, about 150,000 just in the last 10 years. We lost 14,000 in 2021 alone. We can’t keep on the downward spiral and expect to be able to continue our advocacy. As they say, there’s strength in numbers. Legislators look at numbers and the larger the NARFE member total is, the more likely our members of Congress will pay attention. So, how do we fix this? We need policies and programs that focus on recruiting new members, keeping the ones currently on the rolls, and reinstating those we’ve lost. For active employees, that means focusing on benefits questions while they’re still working. Even more important, though, is focusing on those who are within five years of retirement. Those folks are much more concerned about their benefits going forward. Having said that, we can’t leave out retired feds who have been out of government for some time. They’ve been missing out on what NARFE can do for them. As for keeping our current members on the rolls, we need to find out what keeps them being members and make sure we don’t lose sight of that. Regarding reinstating lost members, we need to find out why they left. I suspect many just fail to renew, but we don’t know for sure. The NEB has to lead the way in getting hold of those lapsed members and woo them back. To do all this we need the policies and programs in place that will accomplish this effort, but hose policies and programs must be smart and well thought out. We already have a renewed focus on membership at HQ using FEDHub as a primary tool. The NEB must lead the way, though, in seeking out other initiatives. That’s why I believe we need your input because NARFE members have great ideas the NEB should channel. I’ll be sure to sty in touch with you as we move ahead.
A final area we need to deal with is our governance and structure. As I served on the national bylaws committee, I was able to see firsthand what works and doesn’t work. It seems to me the NEB and headquarters are often out of touch with what goes on at the federation, chapter, and member levels. So, that begs the question–Is our structure adequate to ensure our advocacy continues to serve us? What is the role of headquarters? What is the federation role? Are chapters still the backbone of NARFE? Does the National Executive Board work, as it should, as a Board of Directors and not in the day-to-day operations of NARFE? I think part of the solution here is that the NEB must have an efficient, responsive national policymaking process. Use the latest tools to help us with that, instead of hiring outside consultants to do the work that is inherently NARFE-related. The NEB has recently updated its policy book, which is very much appreciated, but does it only focus on NEB operations? While that’s necessary, the national policy book must be about NARFE policy top to bottom. And, by the way, the NEB needs to be in constant communication with the field to make sure NEB policy decisions have the broadest understanding of what’s needed.
Part of this final area regarding our governance is having cohesive financial policies. Fortunately, the NEB has been working within a balanced budget for the last two years (something it wasn’t doing for several years before). What the NEB has to do is ensure that our financial policies continue down the path of fiscal responsibility. We need periodic financial updates to make sure we aren’t taking inefficient, cost-ineffective actions (is selling the building one such?). After all, it’s your money, both in the dues you pay and the investments we make, not to mention the revenue we generate through our partnerships.
The NEB needs to re-assert its role as NARFE’s governing body. I will do my best to keep the NEB focused on our mission of protecting our earned pay and benefits by focusing on our membership, our policies, and our finances. But, I need your help. A vote for me is a vote for NARFE and you! For more information go to www.robert4regionx.org.