Federal Lobbying Disclosure Compliance
On January 1, 2008, a federal lobbying disclosure law took effect, requiring more stringent quarterly disclosure of lobbying activities, semiannual disclosure of certain political contributions by lobbyists, and certification of compliance with rules that govern gifts to and travel by covered federal officials. Failure to comply could result in criminal penalties (a $200,000 maximum fine and up to five years in prison).
It is the responsibility of all Georgia Tech employees to understand and abide by congressional rules regarding gifts to and travel by covered federal officials.
Georgia Tech's Office of Federal Relations is available to answer any questions you may have. If you have honored a covered federal official, please contact Robert Knotts in Georgia Tech's Office of Government and Community Relations via email or at 202.756.3670.
Georgia Tech Federal Lobbying Guidelines
[updated July 2014]
The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) of 2007 (Public Law 110-81) amended the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) of 1995 and requires quarterly reporting as well as additional reporting on the cost of lobbying activities. Organizations, including universities, are not themselves "lobbyists" but must register under the LDA, list any employees who meet the definition of a "lobbyist" (definition below), and make a good faith effort to capture lobbying costs within the nearest $10,000.
As a result of HLOGA, the Georgia Institute of Technology has established a procedure for internal tracking and reporting of lobbying contacts. As part of this effort, Georgia Tech must also collect and report relevant costs related to lobbying activities to the nearest $10,000. This is premised on a good faith effort but would include such costs as:
- Travel and other expenses.
- Payment to outside lobbying firms.
- An appropriate percentage of dues paid to organizations that lobby.
In order to ensure compliance with this law, there are three issues to be addressed: whether you have engaged a lobbying contact for a certain matter, whether there are any lobbying activity costs associated with that contact, and the amount of time spent lobbying (Section VI, below). All of these must be reported to the Institute so it may accurately estimate its activities and contacts in its quarterly report. To properly capture the qualified lobbying activities of Georgia Tech employees, refer to the instructions and relevant form on this site.
II. LOBBYING CONTACT DEFINITION
What is a federal "lobbying contact"?
Oral, written, or electronic communications to a covered legislative or executive branch official in an attempt to influence:
- The formulation, modification, or adoption of federal legislation.
- The administration or execution of a federal program or policy.
- Formulation, modification, or adoption of a federal rule, regulation, executive order, policy, or position of the United States government.
- The nomination or confirmation of a person subject to confirmation by the Senate.
What is NOT a "lobbying contact"?
"Lobbying contact" does NOT include (LDA Definition):
- A speech, article, publication or other material that is distributed and made available to the public through a medium of mass communication.
- A request for a meeting, a request for the status of an action, or other similar administrative request.
- Testimony given before Congress or submitted for inclusion in the public record.
- Information provided in writing in response to an oral or written request, or in response to a request for public comments in the Federal Register.
- Anything required by subpoena or through civil investigative demand.
- Written comment filed in the course of a public proceeding.
- Anything made by the media if the purpose is gathering and disseminating news and information to the public.
Illustrative Examples of "lobbying contacts"
- Example: Institute employee "A" travels to Washington in his/her official capacity as an employee of the Institute and arranges Capitol Hill meetings to discuss the importance of funding for nanotechnology research. The meetings with staff are considered lobbying contacts and should be reported to the Institute for its quarterly reporting.
- Example: Institute employee "A" telephones a covered executive branch official from Atlanta to advocate for a proposal for funding, which the Institute submitted to the agency. The contact is considered a lobbying contact and should be reported to the Institute for its quarterly reporting.
- Example: Institute employee "A" has a contract to provide technical assistance to agency "B" on an ongoing basis. Technical communications between employee "A" and covered officials at agency "B" would be required by the contract and, therefore, would NOT constitute lobbying contacts.
- Example: Institute employee "A" is asked to testify before a congressional committee in Washington. Employee "A's" travel to Washington and meeting and participation in the hearing would NOT constitute lobbying contacts.
III. WHO IS A COVERED FEDERAL INDIVIDUAL? (LDA Definition):
A "Covered Legislative Branch Official" includes: Members of Congress; an elected officer of either House of Congress; employees of a Member, Committee, leadership staff, joint committee, working group, or caucus.
A "Covered Executive Branch Official" includes: the president; the vice president; any officer or employee in the executive office of the president; any executive "Schedule Level I - V" officer or employee; any member of the armed services at or above pay grade 0 - 7 and above; and any "Schedule" political appointees.
IV. WHAT IS A LOBBYING ACTIVITY FOR WHICH COSTS MUST BE REPORTED?
Lobbying activities means lobbying contacts AND efforts in support of such contacts including preparation and planning activities; research and other background work that is intended, at the time it is performed, for use in contacts; and coordination with the lobbying activities of others. Georgia Tech must make a good faith estimate of the total amount spent on lobbying activities by the organization and its employees to the nearest $10,000.
If you or someone in your unit believes they have engaged in any lobbying activity as defined in parts II - IV above, REPORTING THIS INFORMATION TO THE INSTITUTE IS A REQUIREMENT. After completing the report, you may be contacted by the Office of Federal Relations or the Office of Research Compliance to assess whether the information is a reportable lobbying activity. Your cooperation in this important endeavor is greatly appreciated.
Illustrative Example of Lobbying Activity
- Example: Institute employee "A" travels to Washington to meet with a covered Department of Defense official regarding the renewal of a government contract. Employee "A" does not meet the definition of a lobbyist because he/she does not spend 20 percent of his/her time on lobbying activities during a quarterly period. Nonetheless, the expenses reasonably allocable to "A's" lobbying activities (e.g., plane ticket to Washington, costs, time spent preparing materials, etc.) will be reportable. Employee "A" must report the trip to the Institute.
V. LIMITS ON FEDERAL LOBBYING ACTIVITY
The Georgia Institute of Technology's Office of Federal Relations employs registered federal lobbyists for the Institute. These Georgia Tech employees spend over 20 percent of their time in lobbying activities and work with the Office of the President and other senior administrators on campus to lobby for issues important to the Institute. In addition, the Institute retains consultants who, under the supervision of the Office of Federal Relations, may lobby the federal government for specific issues important to Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech abides by the "Byrd Amendment" (31 U.S.C. § 1352 (2000), FAR Subpart 3.8), which prohibits the use of appropriated federal funds (such as federal research dollars or funds from federal student aid) to influence any type of federal award, including contracts, subcontracts, grants, and cooperative agreements. Georgia Tech also discloses payments made to outside lobbyists to influence federal awards.