Use of Federal Funds to Influence a Federal Award

 

Policy Summary

This policy provides guidance on complying with applicable law (Section 1352, Title 31, U.S. Code), which restricts the use of federal funds to pay for efforts to influence a federal award and requires certain disclosures when outside consultants are engaged in such efforts. Federal funds may not be used to influence or attempt to influence any member of the Executive or Legislative branches of federal government (including any agency employee) for the purpose of securing a grant, contract, loan or cooperative agreement or an extension, continuation, renewal, amendment, or modification of any such federal award. Payments for such efforts, including consultant’s fees, may not be charged to a federal award, unless such efforts are covered by an exception stated below. There are substantial financial penalties for failing to comply with this restriction and if a violation occurs the federal government may impose any penalty it deems appropriate, including the loss of the particular award and/or suspension or debarment as an institution from further federal funding.

Related Regulations

31 USC §1352, Limitation on Use of Appropriated Funds 

45 CFR Part 93, Restrictions on Lobbying 

Who is Governed by this Policy 

  • Staff
  • Faculty

Policy

  1. Federal funds may not be used to influence or attempt to influence any member of the Executive or Legislative branches of the federal government (including any agency employee) for the purpose of securing a grant, contract, loan, or cooperative agreement or an extension, continuation, renewal, amendment or modification of any such award.  Unless an exception applies, charging travel expenses to a federal award, being paid from a federal award, or paying third parties (such as consultants) from a federal award is prohibited, if such payments are in connection with efforts to influence an award of federal funds.  
  2. There are several exceptions to the prohibition on payments for efforts to influence a federal award, including certain payments for technical and professional services and payments for conducting routine and on-going post-award administration of a federal award.  The exceptions are listed below.  Please contact the Office of the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for additional information or to find out if an exception applies to your particular situation. 

1.Compensation made to a university employee for “agency and legislative liaison activities” that are not directly related to a federal award, including discussions concerning the qualities and characteristics of the university’s products, services, or capabilities.   

2.Compensation made to a university employee in connection with providing information specifically requested by a federal agency or by Congress, such as in response to a question posed during a hearing or included in a letter to the university or a university official, provided pursuant to a reporting duty under the award, or requested by the awarding agency. 

3.Compensation made to a university employee in connection with providing information necessary for an agency to make an informed decision about whether to initiate a federal award, so long as done prior to any formal solicitation for the award.   

4.Compensation made to a university employee in connection with technical discussions with government officials regarding the preparation of an unsolicited proposal before submission of that proposal.     

5.Compensation made to an employee or outside professional/consultant for professional or technical services rendered “directly in the preparation, submission, or negotiation of any bid, proposal, or application” for a federal award. This exception encompasses only applications of professional and technical expertise (e.g., a lawyer drafting a legal document, a doctor or scientist providing scientific analyses in his or her area of expertise, but not general lobbying communications made by an employee who happens to be a lawyer or other professional).   

6.Compensation made to an employee or outside professional/consultant for efforts necessary to satisfy conditions required to be eligible for an award, whether imposed by law or imposed under the terms of the award, e.g., use of an independent consultant to certify the fitness of a university testing facility for an award. 

C. If the proposed award exceeds $100,000 the Office of the Vice Provost for Research must certify, at the time of the proposal submission, that the university has not and will not use federal funds to influence the award.  In addition, if outside consultants, or university employees who have not been employed by the university for at least 130 working days within one year of submission for agency consideration, are paid with non-federal funds for efforts to influence the award, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research must disclose such activities to the government.  

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research is required to submit a certification of compliance with this rule. If you or your staff is aware of any facts that make this certification inaccurate, please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, or the Senior Vice President and General Counsel, immediately.  

How does this affect me?  

You may not, while paid with federal funds (such as grant monies) or while using federal funds for travel expenses, urge an agency or member of Congress to support a specific proposal.  It is acceptable to inquire as to the timing of a decision on a proposal; however, it is not acceptable to describe why a proposal should be funded unless the communication satisfies an exception under the law. The intent of the statute is not to prevent normal interactions between a researcher and officer of the awarding agency. If a university employee is uncertain whether communications would qualify as normal interactions under an award or as efforts to influence an award, the employee should consult with the Office of the Senior Vice President and General Counsel in advance of any such communication. 

Activities to influence a federal award are not subject to the reporting requirements set forth above if they are conducted by university employees who have been employed with the university for at least 130 working days within one year prior to the submission that begins agency consideration for the potential award. Faculty and others new to the institution must keep this rule in mind and be careful about discussing specific research projects with the federal government until they have been with the university for at least 130 working days.  

Penalties for violating this regulation could include substantial monetary fines and any other remedies the federal government deems appropriate, including loss of the particular award and/or suspension or debarment as an institution from further federal funding.  

Definitions

Federal Award: Any contract, grant, direct appropriation made by law, loan or cooperative agreement awarded by the government of the United States or by any branch, department, agency, or other unit thereof, including the extension, continuation, renewal, amendment, or modification of any such award. 

Procedures

Department of Energy:  “Lobbying…What you need to know as a Contractor, Cooperative Agreement Participant, or Grantee”  

For related procedures and forms, see the GW Sponsored Projects webpage concerning Federal Sponsors.

Related Information

Identification and Treatment of Unallowable Costs Policy 

Travel, Entertainment and Business Expense Reimbursement Policy 

Contacts

Contact Phone Number Email Address
Office of Sponsored Projects 202-994-0728  [email protected]
Office of the General Counsel 202-994-6503  [email protected]

 

Responsible University Official: Vice Provost for Research
Responsible Office: Office of the Vice Provost for Research

Last Reviewed: July 12, 2021

 

Non-compliance with this policy can be reported through this website.