June 16, 2009

Office of Origin: M/PRI
Date: June 16, 2009
Title of Notice: Instructions Regarding Communications with Registered Lobbyists About Funds Appropriated in the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” P.L. 111-5.

Contact Person: Rachel Arndt, 202-647-1068
Clearance:
M – Patrick F. Kennedy
M/PRI – Marguerite Coffey
L/M – Valerie Wenderoth
L/LFA - Shawn Pompian
L/Ethics – Chip Brooks

Text:
On March 20, 2009, the President issued an Executive Branch-wide Memorandum entitled “Ensuring Responsible Spending of Recovery Act Funds.” Section 3 of the President’s Memorandum mandates interim specific protocols for oral communications with Federally registered lobbyists. This memo has been posted to the State Department’s website at www.state.gov/recovery. This interim guidance outlines the actions you are required to take, effective immediately, whenever you receive or participate in oral or written communications with any outside persons or entities who are exerting influence on the use of funds appropriated in the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” P.L. 111–5 (“Recovery Act”). The purpose of the President’s Memorandum and this initial guidance is to promote transparency in communications with Federally registered lobbyists and to facilitate Federal agencies’ merit-based decision-making in awarding Recovery Act funds. Accordingly, there is no prohibition on communications with Federally registered lobbyists, but any such communications must be in compliance with the following protocol:

A. Unrestricted Oral Communications with Registered Lobbyists on Logistical Questions Related to the Recovery Act
The President’s Memorandum does not place any restrictions on communications with registered lobbyists concerning general questions about the logistics of Recovery Act funding or implementation. Such matters include a request for a meeting, a request for the status of an action, or any other similar administrative request (e.g., how to apply for funding under the Recovery Act, how to conform to deadlines, to which agencies or officials applications or questions should be directed, or requests for information about program requirements and agency practices under the Recovery Act). Communications are not within the scope of “logistical questions” if the request is an attempt to communicate about:

  • Recovery Act policy (e.g., supporting funding of certain general populations, categories of projects, or broad geographical areas); or
  • A particular project or application (i.e., a discrete and identifiable transaction or set of transactions in which specific parties have expressed an interest through a proposal or application received by the Government or otherwise) for a grant or other funding under the Recovery Act.

B. Unrestricted Public Oral Communications with Registered Lobbyists at Widely Attended Gatherings
The President’s Memorandum is aimed at furthering the transparency of oral communications between Federal officials and registered lobbyists concerning the Recovery Act. Such transparency aims are achieved with respect to public communications made at widely attended gatherings (as defined in 5 C.F.R. § 2635.204(g)(2) and related guidance) that are attended by either a large number of people from throughout an industry or profession, or by those representing a wide range of interests. The President’s Memorandum imposes no further restrictions on such public oral lobbyist communications.

C. Non-Public Oral Communications with Federally Registered Lobbyists on Recovery Act Policy Matters or in Support of Specific Projects or Applicants for Funding
Other than the above situations, if you communicate with or are contacted, via telephone or in-person, by any persons outside the Federal government (including persons associated with for-profit companies, non-profit organizations and State and local governmental entities) regarding Recovery Act matters, you should ask if any person participating in the oral communication is a Federally registered lobbyist under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. If any person is a Federally registered lobbyist, please take the following steps:

  1. Inform the person(s) of applicable restrictions as follows:

    “Under the President’s Memorandum, we cannot engage in any oral communications with Federally registered lobbyists about the use of Recovery Act funds in support of particular projects, applications, or applicants. All such communications by Federal lobbyists must be submitted in writing, and will be posted publicly on the Department of State’s recovery website within 3 days of receipt.

    “If the oral communication is about general policy issues concerning the Recovery Act and does not touch upon particular projects, applications, or applicants for funding, we will document the fact of the policy conversation in writing, including the name of the registered lobbyist and the Department officials with whom the contact took place, together with a brief description of the conversation, for public posting on the Department’s recovery website within 3 days of this conversation.”
  2. If the oral communication proceeds with the participation of a Federally registered lobbyist, you should discuss only logistical questions or general policy issues concerning Recovery Act funding, not particular projects, applications, or applicants for funding (as outlined in part A above). If a conversation in which a Federally registered lobbyist is participating moves to particular projects, applications, or applicants for funding, you must end the conversation and request that a written statement be submitted.
  3. Document each in-person or telephone conversation concerning Recovery Act policy matters with a registered lobbyist immediately after the conversation using the electronic form found at www.state.gov/recovery. Submit this form via email to Rachel Arndt (M/PRI) for review of the form for completeness and for posting to the Department’s website within 3 business days of the communication. Please be sure to include the date and time of contact, the names of the parties to the conversation, the name of the lobbyist’s client(s) and a short description of the substance of the conversation.

D. Written Communication from Federally Registered Lobbyists
Please forward all written communications you receive from Federally registered lobbyists regarding specific projects, applications, or applicants for Recovery Act funding to Rachel Arndt (M/PRI) via email (arndtrm@state.gov) immediately upon receipt. The written communication will then be forwarded for posting to the Department’s website within 3 business days.

If you have any questions about the President’s Memorandum, or this interim guidance, please refer to the “Frequently Asked Questions” at the Department’s website www.state.gov/recovery, which provides specific examples or you may contact Rachel Arndt at arndtrm@state.gov.