Interaction with Government Officials
Personal Capacity vs. NYU Representative
Obligation to Identify Personal Capacity and Refrain from Using NYU Resources
NYU does not discourage members of the University Community from engaging in Political Campaign Activity or Lobbying Activity on their own time in a personal capacity, or on behalf of groups or organizations to which they belong.
However, when activities are undertaken in a personal capacity, it is the responsibility of the University Community member involved to state expressly that the activity is conducted in a personal capacity and not in his or her capacity as a representative of NYU.
Subject to limited exceptions for permissible certain student activities, NYU resources of any kind (e.g., NYU letterhead, email, secretarial support, printers, office supplies, meeting rooms) may never be used in connection with any Political Campaign Activity; and NYU resources may be used in connection with Lobbying Activity undertaken in a personal capacity only when approved by NYU Government Affairs or the NYU Langone Medical Center Office of Government Affairs, as appropriate (collectively, “OGA”).
Activities Undertaken as NYU Representative
Prohibited Activity: Political Campaign Activities
In their capacity as representatives of NYU, members of the University Community are strictly prohibited from:
- Endorsing or opposing candidates for public office (e.g., presidential, congressional, state, city);
- Contributing institutional funds to political campaigns, parties, or PACs;
- Using institutional resources to host or conduct a partisan political event;
- Conducting or hosting political fundraising; and
- Publishing materials that support a particular candidacy or party.
There are limited exceptions to these rules for certain activities conducted as part of NYU’s educational mission (e.g., student editorials on political matters appearing in student newspapers, or events hosted by student groups). Any questions concerning the scope of the prohibited activity in this policy should be referred to OGA. Contact individuals are provided in the section of this policy entitled “Procedures for Implementation.”
Activity Requiring Advance Approval: Contacts with Government Officials
Members of the University Community must contact the OGA prior to any interactions with Government Officials if they:
- Would like to invite a Government Official or a candidate, or are approached by a Government Official or candidate about visiting campus;
- Would like to make a gift to a Government Official, including the purchase of a meal;
- Are contacted by a Government Official requesting the use of space on campus;
- Are seeking to participate at a public hearing or similar event in which Government Officials are soliciting public comment on a policy matter;
- Are considering directly contacting a Government Official with respect to legislation or executive actions or decisions on government policies, programs or regulations; or with respect to government funding, including contracts and grants (note faculty exceptions below);
- Are considering indirectly contacting a Government Official, through avenues such as the media or other “grassroots lobbying”, in attempt to influence actions or decisions regarding legislation or executive actions or decisions on government policies, programs or regulations; or with respect to government funding, including contracts and grants (note faculty exceptions below).
The OGA will review the proposed interaction, which may be reportable on city, state, or federal levels, and will provide guidance on the interaction.
Permitted Activity: Policy Expertise/Testimony and Contacts With Grant-Making Agencies
Faculty and non-faculty researchers applying for research grants as well as NYU staff in the Office of Sponsored Progrmas who are assistng them are encouraged to:
- Accept invitations from the government to provide policy expertise and testimony in faculty member's or non-faculty researcher's field of expertise to Government Officials and staff (but note that OGA must be contacted in advance if the invitation was initiated by an individual or party other than the government); and
- Contact program and grant/program officers to discuss prospective or ongoing governmental funding projects that have been, or will be, awarded through a competitive review process. (Note that faculty and non-faculty researchers as well as NYU staff in the Office of Sponosored Programs who are assisting should review the applicable grant request for proposal for any restrictions it may contain on who can be contacted.)
Faculty and non-faculty researchers as well as NYU staff in the Office of Sponsored Programs who are assisting them do not need to contact the OGA prior to engaging in such interactions.
Disclosure of Status as NY State Official
If you meet the definition of a NY State Official, please contact OGA. NYU has reporting obligations relating to NY State Officials that are employed by NYU and will need to review whether your status is captured by its reporting requirements.
Procedures for Implementation
Members of the University Community should seek guidance on how these rules apply to a particular situation by contacting NYU Government Affairs or the NYU Langone Medical Center Office of Government Affairs, as appropriate:
- For all schools, except the School of Medicine and NYU Hospital, individuals should contact the Assistant Vice President for Government Affairs (202-654-8329).
- For the School of Medicine and NYU Hospital, individuals should contact the Vice President, Government Affairs (212-404-4077).
The OGA will seek advice from the Office of General Counsel where questions of law arise.
About This Policy
Effective Date Supersedes N/A Issuing Authority Office of Government and Community Affairs and Office of General Counsel Responsible Officer Senior Vice President for University Relations and Public Affairs
The purpose of this policy is to ensure compliance with Federal, State, and City laws that regulate Political Campaign Activity and Lobbying Activity and to ensure that NYU’s Office of Government and Community Affairs is informed of such activities so that it may offer guidance and assistance.
Under applicable law, NYU is prohibited from engaging in Political Campaign Activity and may only engage in an insubstantial amount of Lobbying Activity (defined in the Internal Revenue Code and applicable regulations), as part of NYU’s overall activities. In addition, NYU and certain members of the University Community are subject to various registration and reporting requirements concerning activities that constitute Lobbying Activity under Federal, State, and City law (each has different requirements, reporting thresholds, and definitions).
“Candidate for Public Office” means an individual who offers himself or herself, or is proposed by others, as a contestant for a national, State, or local elective public office. The term includes not only candidates who are elected by individual voters, but also candidates who must be confirmed by a vote of a legislative body such as a senate or city council.
“Government Official” means an elected or appointed official in a branch of national, State or local government (including those serving in executive branch agencies, departments, and divisions), as well as the staff of such officials.
“Lobbying Activity” for purpose of this policy means any attempt to influence legislation, policy actions, or government decisions, or to seek funding or contracts or other government support through either direct or indirect contact. Direct lobbying includes in person meetings, phone calls, written communications, select expert testimony, electronic communications such as social media activity, and other direct interactions.
"Grassroots lobbying”, a form of indirect contact, which includes organizing the general public to take action on legislative matters, is also considered Lobbying Activity. The legal definition of lobbying varies by applicable law.
“NY State Official” means a New York statewide elected official, state officer, state employee, member of the state legislature or legislative employee. Employees of CUNY and SUNY are considered state employees. Members of New York State Boards or Commissions who receive no compensation or are compensated on a per diem basis are not considered a "NY State Official."
“NYU” includes the schools, colleges, institutes, and other administrative units of NYU, NYU’s Global Network University academic centers, and all University Affiliates (as that term is defined in NYU’s policy entitled Developing University Policies).
“Political Campaign Activity” means directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any Candidate for Public Office.
“University Community” means NYU faculty, including visiting faculty; researchers, including persons participating in research at or under the auspices of NYU; employees; professional staff, including medical, dental and nursing staff; volunteers; fellows, trainees and post-doctoral appointees; students; and consultants, vendors and contractors.
This policy applies to any member of the University Community who (a) is acting on behalf of NYU or (b) utilizing NYU resources in connection with Political Campaign Activity or Lobbying Activity. Activities that may be undertaken by members of the University Community in a personal capacity are not limited, but members of the University Community must clearly distinguish between their personal capacity and their capacity as a representative of NYU and, with limited exceptions for certain permissible student activities, may not use NYU resources in connection with their personal Political Campaign Activity or, without approval, in their personal Lobbying Activity.