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How to handle a congressional hearing

Officials have their own approaches for dealing with pressure of testifying before a congressional committee.

For some, it’s unnerving and one of the worst parts of the job. Officials can never be fully prepared for what’s to come. They can only study, study, study and hope they studied the right information.

Al Burman, president of Jefferson Solutions, testified more than 45 times during his time as administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the early 1990s. Over the course of that experience, he developed two to-dos before any hearing. Here they are as tips for you, if you should be called to testify:

Read the Washington Post and the New York Times newspapers to good sense about what else is going on in the world that could potentially come up in questioning. Officials have to be prepared for any question during a hearing. To update Burman's list, we'd add watching some cable news and browsing informative Web sites as well. If your issue is big enought to de discussed on political blogs, they can give you an idea of how members of each party are likely to approach you in their questioning .

Be prepared t o defer. If a congressman asks a question that you’re unsure about, it's best to simply say, “I’ll get back to you on that.” An official only gets in trouble by trying to answer a question he or she really knows little about, Burman said. We add: Deliver on the promise to get back to the Congressman. Send a written response as soon as you've had time to research the question and formulate a good answer.

Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Jun 23, 2010 at 12:54 PM


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