University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Administrative Policy Statement

University Government Relations and Lobbying Elected Officials

(Approved by the Vice President for External Affairs by authority of Executive Order No. 11)

This guidance governs the roles and responsibilities of the University of Washington's government relations units and employee contacts with elected officials. The guidance applies to University employees who in their official capacities interact with elected officials at the federal, state, regional, and local levels and is intended to assist these employees in understanding the roles and responsibilities of the University's government relations offices and how and when they may have contact with elected officials.

1.  Official Government Positions of the University

The President, in consultation with the Board of Regents, the Provost, the Vice President of External Affairs and other necessary University officials, initiates and develops annual agendas for federal, state, regional, and local government relations advocacy, including lobbying agendas [see RCW 42.17A.005(30)]. Upon Board of Regents approval, these government relations agendas serve as the basis for all official University advocacy efforts. When governmental policy or budget questions arise that are not on the University's government relations agendas, the President or his or her designee will determine the official position and the priority of the policy or budget issue on behalf of the University.

2.  University Government Relations Personnel

The Vice President for External Affairs and directors of Federal, State, and Regional and Community Relations serve as the official government relations officers for the University, and have the following primary duties and responsibilities:

  • Represent the University with the U.S. Congress and the federal government, the state legislature and state government, and city and county governments;

  • Represent the University in pursuit of federal, state, and regional or local policy and appropriations priorities;

  • Coordinate visits between elected officials, government officials, staff, and the University community;

  • Manage external consultants engaged in a governmental lobbying capacity on behalf of the University;

  • Educate and advise the University community on their role and obligations to comply with the federal, state, and local lobbying laws and guidelines;

  • Monitor all lobbying activities on behalf of the University and file registration and reports as appropriate to ensure full compliance with the federal and state requirements.

3.  Contact by University Employees with Elected Officials

As noted in Section 2, the responsibility for representing the University with elected officials and government agencies rests with the Vice President for External Affairs and directors of Federal, State, and Regional and Community Relations. However, educating elected officials about the work of the University and sharing professional expertise is an important shared goal for all University employees. In general, interactions by University employees with elected officials is encouraged, including responses to requests for information and invitations to appear before committees or panels to share expertise, provide education, or otherwise inform elected officials about University programs or initiatives. University employees must notify the Office of External Affairs in advance of such interactions and also report back on the substantive matters presented and discussed.

4.  External Consultants

The Vice President for External Affairs and the directors of Federal, State, and Regional and Community Relations are designated as the University employees permitted to retain external consultants to assist the University in achieving its government relations advocacy agenda, including official policy and funding initiatives. External consultant expenditures are regularly reported as "lobbying activity" as required by applicable federal and state laws.

5.  Personal and Professional Societies

Personal and professional society contacts by University employees with elected officials or governmental agencies, whether in person or in writing, must be done in the name of the individual or the professional society. University letterhead may not be used. In each instance, the employee is obligated to make clear that the contact is not made on behalf of the University. Nothing in this policy shall prevent faculty or staff from expressing personal views on personal time, with personal resources.

6.  Reporting Lobbying Activity

Any University employee who engages in approved lobbying activities, as a University employee, at either the state or federal levels, must file a report of these activities on a quarterly basis with either the Office of Federal Relations or the Office of State Relations in the manner prescribed by those offices. This reporting generally consists of a brief description of the issues lobbied, elected officials contacted, time spent, and an estimate of expenses on a quarterly basis. For a definition of what constitutes reportable federal and state lobbying, University employees should contact the Offices of State and Federal Relations or refer to definitions of lobbying on their respective websites.

May 1, 2002; October 27, 2014.