What is a Government Affairs Director?

Government affairs directors work for non-profits and private companies driving policy change and political strategies on a wide range of issues. They build and manage teams of professionals who handle their company’s government affairs activities.

Generic Job Description

Government affairs directors oversee government dealings and relationships at local, state and federal levels. They develop public policy agendas, create field operations and prepare ongoing strategic public policy plans. They establish positive relationships with key government staff and officeholders and communicate official views and legislative decisions back to their employer. When needed, they prepare internal staff and external supporters for testimony before legislation that favors that company’s public policy priorities. Government affairs directors create PR messaging for various audiences, direct the utilization of relevant field data and maintain familiarity with organizations that further the company’s public policy agenda.

Government Affairs Director – Health Care

The health care industry relies on government affairs directors to provide policy direction, coordinate operational efforts and manage emerging regulatory changes. They must ensure the proper administration of Medicare and Medicaid contracts by maintaining cooperative working relationships with state and federal officials. They review proposed and enacted legislation that impact managed care practices, and then develop business plans and operational changes accordingly. These government affairs directors supervise employees who research, monitor and analyze state and federal legislation activities. They work closely government legislative leaders to build collaborative coalitions that drive change and positively impact managed care markets.


Government affairs directors need certain skills and knowledge. First, they must have a bachelor’s degree with relevant experience in political science, social science or public administration. A master’s degree is the recommended education level for senior government affairs directors. They will need two to four years of demonstrated experience in areas such as public policy, government relations, grassroots activities and community organizations. Experience in lobbying at the local, state and federal levels is extremely important, but recent graduates should have knowledge and understanding of the advocacy and legislative processes at the different government levels. They need effective oral communication skills, so they can conduct large presentations, and effective writing skills, so they can write concise narrative reports.

Suggested Education

Most employers will expect that government affairs directors have a master’s degree in public relations or communications. These degrees will give students the strategic and critical thinking skills that will be used during planning, implementation and communications challenges. Graduates will master the art of creating compelling writing and know how to customize content for various channels and audiences. These programs continually adjust the curriculum to incorporate emerging industry and technology trends. Students learn standard step-by-step communication techniques for PR operations. This starts with the research needed to create situational analysis and advances to establishing goals and key target messages. These programs also include classes that explain how to evaluate budgets, create timelines and manage schedules. Most of these programs include capstone assignments that require impeccable project management skills.

Related Resource: Paralegal

Government affairs directors are legal experts and PR professionals who act as official liaisons between their company and government agencies.