Business Roundtable

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The Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers (CEOs) representing the top corporations in the United States, joined together to examine and advocate for public policy that will "foster vigorous economic growth and a dynamic global economy." Established in 1972 by 200 leading executives from major U.S. corporations, the Roundtable was founded upon the idea that business executives should take an increased role in public policy that affects the economics of the American people. The belief is that the basic interests of business closely parallel the interests of average citizens, who are directly involved in the economy as consumers, employees, investors, and suppliers. Thus, business leaders have a responsibility to actively influence the economic well being of the country.

As the Roundtable sees it, one of its principal strengths "is the extent of participation by the chief executive officers of the member companies." CEOs work in task forces on specific topics and issues that currently impact the social and economic well-being of the United States. For example, in 2003, task forces were in place to focus on such issues as civil justice reform, the digital economy, the environment, and security. Each task force is headed by a chief executive, and is assisted by a support staff composed of employees from task force member companies who are experts in the field. Task force members conduct research, craft policy recommendations, and create action plans. They also draft position papers on major issues, which are used in a variety of ways, including congressional testimony.

Activities of the task forces are reviewed by the Roundtable Policy Committee, which is the governing body of the organization. The Policy Committee is composed of all Roundtable CEOs. At the helm of the Roundtable is a chief executive who serves as chairman. The chairman is elected for a one-year term. He or she is assisted by between two to four cochairmen. These executive chairmen, combined with the task force chairmen make up the Planning Committee for the organization. The Planning Committee provides general strategy and guidance.

In an effort to ensure that a broad base of information is represented in all decision making, membership in the organization is diversified. Thus, CEOs come from all areas of business and all areas of the United States. Such diversity ensures a cross section of thinking on national issues. Roundtable members also have a continuing liaison with other organizations that are directly involved with the concerns at hand.

Since the millennium, the Roundtable carried out significant lobbying efforts before the U.S. Congress for passage of the presidential trade negotiating authority (2001); proposed to the george w. bush administration a $300 billion incentive package for economic growth (2002); and announced an unprecedented Climate RESOLVE initiative calling for voluntary action by all businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (2003).

further readings

BRT. 2003." The Business Roundtable Announces Its Resolve to Voluntarily Control Greenhouse Gas Emissions." Press Release, February 12, 2003.

BRT. 2002. "The Business Roundtable Calls For $300 Billion Growth Package." Press Release, November 21, 2002.

Business Roundtable. Available online at <> (accessed June 18, 2003).

Koffer, Keith. 2001. "BRT Mobilizes Lobbyists, Funds for Trade Negotiating Authority." Congress Daily AM (May 9).

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Business Roundtable (BRT), an association consisting of the chief executive officers of major U.S. corporations that was founded in 1972 through the merger of the three preexisting business organizations. The BRT was established to give large corporations a stronger voice in lobbying U.S. government officials on business-related issues, and it has become the most influential U.S. business lobbying organization. Within the BRT, task forces headed by CEOs are established to make policy recommendations on particular issues or areas, such as corporate governance, and to develop a plan of action to secure the recommendations implementation. The BRT has only a small permanent staff; most of its work is done by the staffs of member corporations or outside consultants. Currently the CEOs of 140 companies are members of the Business Roundtable; the organization has had as many as 200 members. Membership in the BRT is by invitation.