AARP and Its Members in Dialogue

As one of the leading voices for Americans 50-plus, AARP regularly monitors our members’ needs, concerns, and opinions. We develop public policies through a consistent, ongoing process that begins with member input and policy analysis. The Policy Book presents our approved policies and forms the basis for our advocacy and broader efforts to fight for people 50-plus and help equip them to live their best lives.

Member input—Throughout the year AARP seeks input on public policy issues from many sources. We receive tens of thousands of calls, letters, and e-mails from members. We survey members and the general public on a broad range of issues. Each year, we conduct a call for public comment on AARP policies. The AARP Board of Directors and AARP's board-appointed National Policy Council (NPC) also host national policy forums and actively solicit policy input from state volunteers on a continuing basis.

AARP’s Board of Directors and National Policy Council (NPC)—Founded in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, AARP is governed by its volunteer board of directors. The NPC helps the board formulate national, state, and local policy.

The NPC is an advisory committee to the AARP board, made up of volunteers with public policy experience and interest who represent a diverse cross section of AARP members. In making public policy recommendations for the board’s consideration and approval, the NPC studies public policy options from differing viewpoints and weighs the opinions of members, staff, and nationally renowned policy experts.

Implementing policy—Once the board of directors finalizes federal, state, and local policy recommendations, AARP shares them through the Policy Book online at www.aarp.org/policybook. It is the Policy Book that provides the basis for advocacy efforts by AARP volunteers and staff. It guides our work to make life better for millions of families and communities across the country. Under the guidance of AARP’s chief executive officer, volunteers and staff work together to implement our policy goals.

At the federal level AARP works to affect legislation that reflects these policies. AARP staff lobby the administration, Congress, and regulatory agencies, while members of the board of directors, along with other AARP volunteers, regularly testify on Capitol Hill on behalf of older Americans.

AARP’s advocacy efforts in the states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and tribal organizations also reflect board-approved policies. The policies recognize that laws, regulations, and political realities differ widely from state to state. Legislation absent but critically needed in one state may have been enacted in another state years ago. AARP leadership in each state develops specific strategies after researching the views and needs of volunteers and members. Based on the association’s annual policy priorities, and within the parameters articulated in the Policy Book, AARP leaders in states and communities interpret the AARP’s goals for local leaders and guide them in selecting policy issues and creating strategies to pursue them.

AARP bolsters its federal and state advocacy with grassroots and elections activities—including urging AARP members to contact legislators and regulators on key issues and educating the public on important policy matters and candidates’ positions. AARP also works for change through the courts.

How AARP decides on legislative and regulatory proposals—The Policy Book offers policy approaches and principles, but does not endorse specific legislation or regulatory proposals. AARP uses board-approved policy to determine whether to support a specific bill or regulation. On far-reaching proposals that will have a major impact on Americans 50-plus and their families, the board carefully considers AARP policy, as well as feedback from members through surveys, e-mails, letters, and telephone calls; input at policy forums and meetings; public polling; and policy analysis. The board uses all this information in deciding whether to support specific legislation or regulatory proposals.

Ongoing policy analysis—AARP uses an ongoing process to formulate public policy positions. Following an annual public policy meeting, AARP holds meetings and conducts research and policy studies throughout the year and updates policies as necessary to stay current. The 2017–2018 Policy Book is designed to cover a two-year period, with a biennial supplement planned for the spring of 2018.

AARP’s Office of Policy Development and Integration (OPDI) facilitates development, implementation, and oversight of the policy development process, coordinating the direct involvement of AARP’s volunteer leadership in creating the Policy Book. Other staff throughout AARP, including the association’s Public Policy Institute (PPI) and advocacy staff from across the country, contribute to the formulation of AARP’s policy.