It’s been a quick five months since David Parker took over thehelm at the American Gas Association but he’s already shown awillingness to pick up the cost-cutting flag and run with it.Parker said yesterday in an interview with NGI he’s made acommitment to the AGA board to continue restructuring measures,including changes that will further cut costs and hold down dues.
“We’re going to look at our core services and once we decidewhat our core services should be and there’s agreement on that andwe set aside a percentage of our budget for core costs this year,my hope is to have no dues increase through the year 2000, athree-year commitment,” said Parker.
The theme of Parker’s 1998 Management Plan is “focus,” puttingresources where they can have a positive impact on gas utilities.”My sense is if we focus our energies properly we can keep ourcosts down. We’re doing exactly what our members are doing: we’rereducing costs but we’re becoming much more effective.
“Every program we have is either going to benefit the naturalgas utility or we’re going to unload it. We’ll be making somedecisions on some programs in the next couple weeks,” he added.
He obviously doesn’t see expensive national advertising assomething AGA will want to bring back “in the foreseeable future”but he also doesn’t expect cost cutting to impact AGA’s currentstaff. “I can’t see that [further AGA staff reductions are] in thecards. You obviously are always going to have some changes. I haveno track record of doing big reorganizations in my previous life.”
“I’ve been in the association business for 20 years and I seewhat’s happening in other associations. I think if you’re a goodassociation leader, you try to stay out in front of your membersand one of the ways of doing that is being very cost conscious andnot spending an extra nickel if not needed. And I think I’ve donethat by making a commitment to my members that they know that I’mcommitted to strong type management internally. I thought it wasthe right thing to do.”
Under Parker, AGA also will launch a variety of new initiativesincluding implementing a new gas industry statistical system toprovide members with industry financial, operational and marketingdata; video conferencing so travel costs can be reduced; installingan antitrust policy that AGA staff and all committee chairs mustadhere to, upgrading its magazine and website, and “enhancing”internal and external communications.
Parker said AGA intends to be involved in “a lot more directcontact and education of key folks at FERC and NARUC and we’ll bemuch more aggressive on Capitol Hill in advocating our interests.In terms of a lobbying effort this year, Parker said the issues AGAwill be going after are pretty clear: One-Call pipeline safety;PUHCA repeal; and tracking anything that relates to the developmentof a funding program, appropriations or tax crediting measuresrelated to emissions programs that would enhance the use of naturalgas, and of tracking course electric deregulation issue.
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