Key Federal Definitions

Effective Date:
Last Updated: 06/30/2009

Helpful Definitions under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

What is a Lobbying Contact?
POLICY: 2.1.1
Effective Date:
Last Updated: 06/30/2009

Lobbying Contacts include letters, phone calls, emails, and face-to-face meetings made on behalf of UGA with covered executive branch and legislative branch officials intended to influence a covered official on appropriations; specific legislation; legislative proposals, rules, regulations; Executive Orders; programs, policies, or positions of the U.S. government; administration or execution of federal programs or policies (including federal contracts and grants); and nomination or confirmation of a person for a position subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.  UGA lobbying contacts do not include contacts made as part of a professional association (and not on behalf of UGA).  If you engage in such contacts, please consult with the Office of Governmental Relations to determine whether the activity constitutes a "lobbying contact."

Lobbying Activities are "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."

Several activities are exempt from the definitions of lobbying activities.  Examples of activities that are not covered by LDA include Congressional testimony; communications made through any medium of mass communication; scheduling appointments; and information provided as part of a rulemaking process or at the request of a legislative or executive branch official.  Please note that an exempt activity does not have to be reported as a lobbying contact, but notification to the Office of Government Relations is highly encouraged.

Who are Covered Federal Officials?
POLICY: 2.1.2
Effective Date:
Last Updated: 06/30/2009

Covered legislative branch officials include all Members and staff of Congress. 

Covered executive branch officials include the President; Vice-President; employees of the Executive Office of the President; employees working for federal agencies at Level I - V of the Federal Executive Schedule (generally political appointees serving as Assistant Secretaries, Commissioners, etc.) Military Officers at Grade 0-7 or above (generally "one-star" officers such as Brigadier General and above); and any officer or employee in a position of a confidential, policy-advocating character (commonly known as Schedule C political appointees). 

If you have any questions about whether any particular official is a covered federal official, please contact the UGA Office of Governmental Relations for assistance.

Who Must Report their Federal Lobbying Contacts?
POLICY: 2.1.3
Effective Date:
Last Updated: 06/30/2009

Any UGA employee that makes a "lobbying contact" must report this communication in advance to the Office of Government Relations.  Generally, the University President and Vice President for Governmental Relations have designated specific individuals to lobby on behalf of the University.  However, UGA recognizes that, from time to time, it will be appropriate for UGA administrators, faculty or staff to make federal lobbying contacts on behalf of UGA.  Accordingly, in view of the significant restrictions on the use of either federal or state funds to engage in lobbying activities, and the various requirements relating to the manner in which lobbying activities must be reported and conducted, UGA faculty and staff must notify the UGA Office of Governmental Relations in advance of any proposed lobbying contact or activity

Calculating Lobbying Expenses
POLICY: 2.1.4
Effective Date:
Last Updated: 06/30/2009

The Lobbying Disclosure Act requires UGA to make a good faith estimate on a quarterly basis of its lobbying expenses, including hard costs for travel, printing, payments to outside consultants involved in lobbying assistance, and the value of the time spent by UGA employees engaged in federal lobbying activities.  Thus, UGA must make a good faith effort to collect information about costs incurred and time spent by any employee engaging in federal lobbying activities.  Please note that federally-funded sponsored project funds must not be used to pay for federal lobbying activities.

Reporting of Expenditures Incurred in Honoring/Recognizing a Covered Federal Official
POLICY: 2.1.5
Effective Date:
Last Updated: 06/30/2009

UGA is required to disclose contributions and/or expenses paid:

(1) for events honoring or recognizing a covered federal official,

(2) to an entity named for or in recognition of a covered federal official,

(3) to an entity established, financed, maintained or controlled by a covered federal official,

(4) to a presidential library or inaugural committee

(5) for a meeting, retreat or conference held by or in the name of one or more covered federal officials. 

Under the new reporting requirements, expenses related to hosting a reception in honor of one or more covered federal officials, or purchasing a ticket to a charitable event where a Member of Congress was honored or recognized, or costs or conference fees for attending a conference or meeting where it was promoted in the invitation that a covered federal official was the speaker or honored guest, must now be reported.  If you have any questions regarding these policies, please contact the UGA Office of Governmental Relations for assistance.

House and Senate Restrictions on Gifts
POLICY: 2.1.6
Effective Date:
Last Updated: 06/30/2009

The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) requires UGA to certify twice each year that the institution is familiar with Senate and House rules relating to the provisions of gift and travel and that UGA employees have not provided, requested or directed a gift, including travel, to a Member of Congress or staff with knowledge that the gift or travel may not be accepted under the law.  These certifications are subject to potential civil or criminal penalties for knowing violations or false statements.

As it relates to members of Congress and their staff, the law provides that Members of Congress and Congressional staff may not accept ANY gift unless the gift falls under one of the narrow exceptions specifically set forth in the Congressional Gift Rule Guidance.  One of those exceptions of particular applicability to UGA is for gifts paid by and on behalf of a State or Local Government.  This exception means that as a general rule any gifts, meals, travel or entertainment provided by UGA or UGA officials to Members or Congress or staff are exempt from the gift rule ban.

UGA employees should note, however,  that this exception for gifts provided by State or local governments applies to UGA as an institution only, and that a personal gift paid by an UGA employee with personal funds may be prohibited under the law, unless it fits within one of other exceptions to the Gift Rules.  In addition, although this exception applies to UGA as a public university, UGA employees should be mindful that this exception applies to Congressional gift rules and that there are federal executive branch gift rules that restrict the type of gifts that may be offered to, or received by, federal executive branch employees.

Other Examples of Gifts that are Permissible Under the House and Senate Rules
POLICY: 2.1.7
Effective Date:
Last Updated: 06/30/2009

In addition to the exception for gifts paid by a state entity, other categories of gifts to Members of Congress or staff that are permitted under the House and Senate rules include:

  • Items of little intrinsic or "nominal" value, generally worth $10 or less. Greeting cards, baseball caps and T-shirts have been specifically defined as "nominal" without regard to the actual cost.
  • Free attendance at a "widely attended event". A widely attended event includes conferences, dinners, receptions, and other similar events where (1) the event is open to individuals from throughout a given industry or profession, and there is an expectation that at least 25 persons will attend, other than Members of Congress and staff; (2) the invitation is from the sponsor of the event; and (3) the Member or staff reasonably determines that attendance at the event is related to his or her official duties.
  • Food and refreshments of a nominal value that are not offered as part of a meal or offered at events (other than a "widely attended event").  For example, an organization may offer coffee and bagels or appetizers and beverages as part of a policy briefing as long as the refreshments are not lavish, and not part of a meal function.
  • Items of a commemorative nature, such as a plaque or trophy, if they are intended as part of a presentation to a Member or staff.
  • Books or other materials of an informational nature.
  • Gifts (including meals or personal hospitality in one's home) provided on the basis of a personal relationship or friendship, where there is a history of reciprocal gift giving or hospitality. A person giving a gift based on the personal friendship exception should not receive reimbursement for the cost of the gift or meal from his/her employer or should not take a business tax deduction for the cost incurred.
House and Senate Restrictions on Travel
POLICY: 2.1.8
Effective Date:
Last Updated: 06/30/2009

The House and Senate rules also contain significant restrictions relating to privately-sponsored travel for Members of Congress or their staff.  For instance, Members of Congress and staff are generally prohibited from accepting reimbursement from a registered lobbyist for "officially connected" travel (including meetings, speaking engagements or fact-finding trips).  

As a state entity, UGA is generally exempt from the House and Senate travel restrictions.  However, if UGA jointly sponsors travel with a private entity (e.g., a private university) for a Member of Congress or staff, the rules applicable to the private entity would apply to the jointly-sponsored travel.  Private entities that employ or retain lobbyists may generally only provide reimbursement for "necessary" expenses (transportation, lodging and related expenses) for a one-day event, exclusive of travel time and an overnight stay.  As to all privately-sponsored travel, Members of Congress or staff must also obtain written certifications from trip sponsors and furnish a copy to the Senate Ethics Committee or the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

If you have any questions about HLOGA, the propriety of an offer of any gift, travel or support for any seminar or conference or other activity expending UGA funds to honor or recognize a covered federal official, or any question regarding whether any of your federal contacts must be reported, please contact Griff Doyle in the Office of Governmental Relations at or (706) 542-7177.