Contacting Government Officials – What You Need to Know

The Office of Government and Public Affairs (OGPA) serves as the formal point of contact between Southern Illinois University and local, state, and federal elected officials and their staff. OGPA is responsible for ensuring that the University complies with state and federal disclosure laws and requirements set forth in the Federal Lobbying Disclosure Act and that the institutional priorities and views of the University are clearly and effectively communicated to government officials. 

For that reason, all faculty and staff should make every effort, prior to contacting elected officials and their staff, to inform the Office of Government and Public Affairs, especially when sending invitations to campus functions and events. 

If a university employee is contacted by an elected official or staff person to represent or speak on behalf of Southern Illinois University by any government official or body, they should coordinate their response through this office.  The OGPA appreciates when campus faculty staff notify us right away when this occurs. We do this not to control anyone’s access to government officials but to ensure the OGPA and the President’s Office, and ultimately the University, has up-to-date information when we are in contact with the same official so we can ensure our messaging is clear and coordinated.

If it does occur, here’s some advice for advice when interacting with elected officials and their staffs:

  • Be polite, positive and constructive, non-partisan, and factual.
  • Be clear and concise.  Elected officials and their staffs are very busy.  Keep your communication as short as possible, while including all relevant information.
  • Identify yourself as a constituent (if you are) and/or as an individual living in their district.
  • Explain your issue clearly.  Give enough information for the elected official to understand your position.  If possible, illustrate the impact of the issue on his/her district with personal stories and examples.
  • Tell the member what action you want him/her to take.  Ask what his/her position on the issue is or if they can support your position on the issue.
  • Request a response. 
  • Include your contact information.
  • Thank them for their time and service.