University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Policy Name: Interactions with Government Officials
Policy Number: LR 204.6
Effective Date: December 3, 2014
Revised Dates: –
Most Recent Review Date: –
As a state-funded institution, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) is governed by a variety of government regulations and processes. Interaction with government officials and offices is critical to the funding of the university and to advancing the university in other ways. Regular communication and correspondence with a range of officials at the local, state, and federal levels are part of the ongoing operation of the university and must be carefully managed and monitored.
The university’s government relations agenda and positions on issues are determined by the UA Little Rock chancellor in consultation with campus personnel and University of Arkansas System officials. That agenda includes managing issues relating to funding and operations, compliance with government regulations, reporting of university progress on a number of government programs, and/or resolution of problems experienced by or with the campus in government processes.
The government relations agenda is carried out by the Office of Government Relations, directed by the UA Little Rock Chief Government Relations Office, who reports to the UA Little Rock chancellor. The Office of Government Relations is the first point of contact for UA Little Rock employees in interacting with government offices. Unauthorized and uncoordinated efforts by university personnel can unintentionally harm the university’s effort to secure funding and to protect and promote other interests of the university.
The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines, procedures, and a coordinated approach for interactions with government officials and offices by university employees. This policy applies to interactions with the Governor, the Arkansas General Assembly, Constitutional Officers, U.S. Senators, and U.S. Representatives, Federal Executive Branch officials, State and Federal agencies and offices, and other government entities and officials.
The policy outlines procedures for the following categories of interactions:
- Contacting Government Officials with Proposals or Information. The Office of Government Relations coordinates contact with state and federal government officials with requests for assistance and proposals for financial support (outside of the regular grant processes managed through the UA Little Rock Office of Research and Sponsored Programs). Any contact with government officials to request assistance for a UA Little Rock program or department must be coordinated through the Office of Government Relations. The office is charged with reviewing all non-grant proposals for support that go forward to state and federal offices and/or requests for meetings with state and federal offices for the purpose of garnering support of a UA Little Rock program. Numerous requests come to the campus for information in response to inquiries from legislators, their staff, and other officials. The Office of Government Relations should be made aware of any such responses by university personnel and provided a copy of responses. Employees are encouraged to inform the Office of Government Relations of new issues or to raise the administration’s awareness of current or pending government policies affecting operations of the university.
- Inviting Government Officials to Campus or to University Events. Employees should first consult with the Chief Government Relations Officer before inviting the Governor, Constitutional Officers, or members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation or Arkansas General Assembly to campus. This is to ensure prioritization of attendance by officials at events of institutional importance and to prevent multiple invitations to government officials for conflicting events. In most cases, the Office of Government Relations can assist in approved invitations to government officials and can work with staff to make sure such invitations have followed appropriate protocols.
- Advocacy or Lobbying Days by Professional Organizations. Due to the numerous professional organizations in which UA Little Rock employees are involved, the Office of Government Relations is to be notified of any planned visits or meetings to government offices by university employees on behalf of such organizations. If an annual conference of a professional organization includes scheduled visits (i.e. Congressional Hill visits), the Office of Government Relations should be made aware of these along with agenda items prior to the visits. Personal or professional positions different from those of the university must be disclosed as such and must not be represented as or appear to represent the university’s position in presentations at these meetings.
- Letter Campaigns by Professional Organizations. Many professional organizations send letters from their membership intended to lobby government officials on particular issues. Before signing advocacy letters of professional associations of which they are members, employees should notify the Office of Government Relations and, if possible, provide a copy of the intended correspondence in order to determine if there could be unintended and negative consequences for the university’s agenda. UA Little Rock letter or email system should not be used, nor should an employee’s university title be used in correspondence on behalf of a professional organization to lobby a government official without prior consent from the Office of Government Relations.
- Expert Testimony. The university encourages UA Little Rock faculty and professional staff in the sharing of their scholarly and technical expertise to serve a broad range of community needs. This includes providing expert testimony to government bodies and groups. In the event that a UA Little Rock faculty or staff member is contacted by a member or staff of the General Assembly or Congress to testify before a committee, or otherwise engage with the General Assembly or Congress with regard to their personal and/or professional expertise, such faculty and staff should notify and coordinate with the Office of Government Relations. The office can help in preparing or reviewing testimony remarks and in helping employees develop an understanding of the audience to and environment in which the testimony will be given. Faculty and staff must note that their testimonies do not represent the official position of UA Little Rock, unless authorized by the UA Little Rock chancellor.
- Routine Business Contact. This policy does not restrict contact with government agencies that is within the scope of routine business conducted on behalf of UA Little Rock by employees. These contacts include work with the administration of grants and contracts (NSF, Department of Energy, etc.) and oversight agencies (Department of Education, OMB, etc.).
- Citizen Advocacy. Nothing in this policy is intended to limit the constitutionally protected rights of citizens to petition or contact their elected representatives on behalf of their personal beliefs or needs. Faculty and staff have no need to disclose to the university any contact with elected officials on their personal time. In the course of such communication it is the responsibility of the employees not to represent their personal positions as those of the university or the university administration unless expressly approved by the UA Little Rock chancellor. The use of university resources such as UA Little Rock letterhead and email system is prohibited in the communicating of personal positions to government officials.
UA System Board Policy on Political Activity: 465.1
“Political Activity. University employees, as citizens, have the right to engage in political activity. However, no employee may involve the institution’s name, symbols, property, or supplies in political activities.
Any employee who intends to seek public office or to assume a major role in a political campaign is obligated to discuss his/her plans with his/her supervisor. If the supervisor determines that the activity will impinge to any extent upon the full discharge of the employee’s responsibilities to the university, the plans must be reviewed through regular administrative channels to the president’s office for a determination of workload and salary adjustment.
Involvements which require part- or full-time services, and for which more than token compensation is received, will require a reduction of workload and pay, leave-of-absence, or resignation, depending upon the extent of the activity.”
Source: Chancellor’s Office
Approved: Chancellor Joel E. Anderson
Custodian: Office of Government Relations