EXT-003: Communicating with Government Officials
Academic Division, the Medical Center, and the College at Wise.
This policy establishes a structure for communication with federal, state and local government officials and sets forth requirements related to direct communication by faculty and staff with federal, state and local government officials. The policy supports the University to maintain one voice and agenda in governmental relations work. The University is prohibited by federal tax law as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, from participating in any campaign or partisan activities.
There are no terms that require definition.
All employees (i.e., faculty, classified and University staff, professional research staff, Medical Center employees, employees at the University of Virginia at Wise) are free to communicate with members of the General Assembly, Congress, executive and legislative branch agencies, or other elected officials, but in doing so they must clearly distinguish their personal opinions from the positions and policies of the University. It is the affirmative responsibility of faculty and staff members not to represent their personal opinions as positions or policies of the University, unless the president has specifically authorized them to do so. University employees should use neither University letterhead nor electronic mail sent through University mail servers to communicate their personal opinions or positions.
State law and directives from the Office of the Governor require the University to designate official spokespersons to communicate its positions to the General Assembly and to coordinate its legislative proposals through the governor’s secretaries. The University president and his designated vice presidents are authorized spokespersons. The director of state governmental relations oversees state legislative relations. This official coordinates all presentations to legislators, legislative committees and letters and electronic communications to elected officials in behalf of the University. The director coordinates relations with State agencies and works closely with the vice presidents involved. This activity often involves deans, departmental chairs and faculty members. Communications with local government officials and agencies must be coordinated with the executive vice president.
The president is responsible for developing all University positions on federal legislation and regulations and for coordinating University relations with Congress, congressional staff, and executive and legislative branch agencies. Faculty solicitations for federal funding must be made through procedures approved by the vice president for research, and these solicitations and submissions of proposals should be consistent with University policy and procedures — particularly in the case of research funding requests.
Faculty and staff members are responsible for informing the Office of the President if they are to testify before the General Assembly or Congress and must note that their testimonies represent personal opinions, unless otherwise authorized by the president.
Compliance with Policy:
Failure to comply with the requirements of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination in accordance with relevant University policies.
Questions about this policy should be directed to the Office of the President.
In order to manage and coordinate agenda, please contact:
- for federal issues, Office of Federal Relations in the President’s Office
- for state issues, Office of State Governmental Relations
- for local issues, Office of Executive Vice President and COO
Procedures for Faculty Solicitations for Federal Funding, please contact the Office of the President.