Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual - Policy 2050: Governmental Relations and Legislative Activity
Date Originally Issued: 01-11-2008
Federal, state, and local support is extremely important to the teaching, research, and public service mission of the University. Through this support, the University can enhance current programs and develop resources to support future programs. To ensure effective development and management of federal, state, and local government support and compliance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations, the Office of Government and Community Relations must coordinate the University’s contacts with elected officials and lobbyists. In determining legislative priorities and other related activities, the Office of Government and Community Relations consults with a broad cross section of the UNM community. This collaborative approach is endorsed by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which noted in a 2009 report that it is “important to develop and reinforce appropriate institutional channels” for official UNM communications with elected official in order “to focus the University’s voice.”
2. Office of Government and Community Relations
With a comprehensive overview of the University's federal, state, and local legislative activity, the Office of Government and Community Relations serves as a clearinghouse for legislative requests to ensure a consistent message regarding the University's priorities and to ensure elected officials and their support staff are not approached by multiple UNM constituents at the same time. The Office of Government and Community Relations establishes relationships with elected officials, matches requests for information with the appropriate University representatives, and works closely with students, faculty, and staff to ensure the University presents a unified image.
3. Establishment of UNM's Legislative Priorities
The Office of Government and Community Relations, in consultation with the Board of Regents, President, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost, Chancellor for Health Sciences, Executive Vice President for Administration, and the Vice President for Research, coordinates an inclusive and transparent process which provides students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to participate in the development of the University's priorities. This year-round process includes open forums, committee meetings, and legislative hearings during the months leading up to the legislative session. Therefore, it is important that students, faculty, and staff become involved early in the process so their concerns and suggestions can be effectively addressed at the appropriate stage of the priority setting process. Opportunities for participation will be posted on the Office of Government and Community Relations website.
4. Contacts with Elected Officials
4.1. Lobbying Restrictions
The University encourages employees to have good professional relationships with federal, state, and local elected officials and to be responsive to officials’ questions and requests for information.
Many contacts with elected officials, however, may meet the legal definition of official lobbying on behalf of the University, and require the University to track and disclose the activities. For this reason, it is imperative that employees notify the Office of Government and Community Relations of their contacts with any and all elected officials to ensure compliance with a complex series of federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding governmental, legislative, and political activities including, but not limited to, the:
- Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995
- Honest Leadership and Open Government Act
- Byrd Amendment
- New Mexico Governmental Conduct Act
- New Mexico Gift Act
- New Mexico Lobbyists Regulation Act
Activities covered by these laws and regulations include not only attempts to influence the action of any legislative body, or federal, state, or local governmental agency, but also contacts with certain senior officials and other designated public office holders.
4.2. Notification and Reporting of Contacts
To ensure compliance with the tracking and disclosure requirements of lobbying laws and regulations and the accuracy and completeness of responses to elected officials’ requests, it is important that employees notify the Office of Government and Community Relations before contacting elected officials.
5. Contract Lobbyists
All contracts for the procurement of services from professional lobbyists to act on behalf of UNM must be approved by the Office of Government and Community Relations. The Director of the Office of Government and Community Relations serves as the contract owner and is responsible for managing all lobbying contracts in accordance with Policy 2015 “Contract Management and Monitoring.”
Meetings with federal, state, or local lobbyists must be coordinated with the Office of Government and Community Relations, which can assist and support UNM representatives on trips to advocate for support.
6. State Reporting Requirements
Any UNM funds used for meetings or receptions with elected officials or similar events must be reported to the New Mexico Secretary of State. In order for the University to track the expenditures, these events must be coordinated through the Office of Government and Community Relations.
7. Personal Opinions Expressed to Federal, State, and Local Officials
While all members of the University community are free to express their political opinions and engage in political activities to whatever extent they wish, it is very important that they:
- do so only in their individual capacities;
- do not use University resources; and
- avoid the appearance that they are speaking or acting on behalf of the University in political matters.
It can be difficult for members of the public, including reporters and legislators, to differentiate between an official University position and a personal opinion; therefore, employees should take care to stipulate that the personal opinions expressed are their own and not necessarily those of the University. The University recognizes and approves of the right of free speech and expression of opinion on any subject by any member of the University community, whether the subject relates to on-campus or off-campus issues. Refer to Policy 2220 "Freedom of Expression and Dissent" and Policy 3735 "Political Activity" for more information.