Reporting Federal Lobbying Activities

MIT

January 2016

Everyone at MIT has the right to engage with our political system when acting for him or herself. However, if the engagement is of a certain type and you are acting on behalf of MIT, this activity is subject to reporting and other requirements of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (the “Act”), 2 U.S.C. § 1605.

MIT must report to Congress on certain lobbying activity to federal officials and such reporting includes information on who engaged in lobbying, the issue, who received the lobbying and the amount of money spent on the lobbying, including preparation and research time.  Reports are publicly available on line.

In addition, because MIT is a non-profit organization, the law does not allow MIT, acting through its employees and other agents, to spend a “substantial amount of its time” on lobbying.  This is measured in both time and expenditures.  There is no hard and fast rule on what is a permissible level of lobbying.

What is Lobbying under The Act

MIT must report activity that is:

1.            An oral, written or electronic communication on behalf of MIT

                --to high level federal officials (including a member or officer of Congress, congressional staff and employees, a congressional committee, or groups providing legislative services to members of Congress;  the  President, Vice President, Executive branch officers or employees in the Executive Office of the President, Executive branch officers or employees with policymaking authority; and certain members of the uniformed services),

                --about three areas: (a) Federal bills and/or legislation, rules, regulations, Executive orders, or other programs, policies, or positions of the U.S. government; (b) the administration or execution of a Federal program or policy (including the negotiation, award or administration of a Federal contract, grant, loan, permit or license); or (c) the nomination or confirmation of a person for a position subject to Senate confirmation.

And,

2.            Any effort in support of the above communication made on behalf of MIT, including preparation or planning activities, research, and other background work, as well as time spent in coordination with the lobbying activities of others.

Exceptions

There are a number of activities that are not reportable:

1.            Testimony given or submitted before members of Congress;

2.            Written information in response to an oral or written request or in response to a request for public comments in the Federal Register, Commerce Business Daily, or other similar publication;

3.            Response required by subpoena or civil investigative demand;

4.            Response required by law or by a federal contract, grant, loan, permit, or license;

5.            Written comment filed in the course of a public proceeding;

6.            A speech, article, publication or other material that is available to the public through a medium of mass communication; or

7.            A request for a meeting, a request for the status of an action, or other similar administrative request, provided the request does not include an attempt to influence a federal official.

MIT Reporting

Four times a year, each DLC Director or Head receives a request for reportable activity from the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) about any recent reportable activities.  These forms are reviewed by OSP.  The individual reports are not provided to Congress.  OSP prepares and delivers a summary on behalf of the Institute.  If you are not receiving a request from OSP, please contact your DLC Director or Department Head or Lynda Nelson in OSP, at lnelson@mit.edu or 617-258-8019. For more information on the law, see:  http://lobbyingdisclosure.house.gov/index.html

Massachusetts

There is also a state statute requiring certain reporting on lobbying activity to state Officials.  However, MIT is not presently required to report any state lobbying activities.

If you have any questions about lobbying or about whether certain activities should be reported, please contact Richelle Nessralla in the Office of General Counsel at 617-452-5943 or rness@mit.edu