What is the difference between "advocacy"
The goal of advocacy is to transfer
information/provide education. The goal of lobbying is to influence a
legislator to action on a specific piece of legislation. Most state employees
are ethically able to advocate for change that benefits society using research,
educational materials, personal stories, etc. Requests for action, even
substantive action on a specific piece of legislation, should be considered
lobbying and falls outside of the scope of ethical conduct for most state
employees. Many agencies utilize the professional services of lobbyists to
perform these activities. State Employees may make requests of legislators for
causes important to them on their personal time, but should be aware, that
expertise on a subject may transcend the personal right to communicate with an
individual legislator even outside of work. Since state laws vary widely, it is
a good idea to check with your legislative liaison, or legal department, prior
to initiating communication with legislators if you are in doubt. For more
information on this topic please refer to the following resources:
Rules and Guidelines for Public Health Advocates by the American Public Health Association
As a state employee, how can I
When considering advocacy efforts,
state employees should ALWAYS operate within state guidelines. If
you receive CDC or other federal and foundation funding, you should also
operate within their advocacy/lobbying guidelines, including the Hatch Act
rules. For example, you must never use federal dollars to lobby (see CDC
Guidance on Anit-Lobbying). That is, when you meet/talk
with legislators you cannot advocate for funding or a specific vote on proposed
legislation. To be sure you are operating in the confines of the state or
federal requirements, it is always a good idea to check with your
supervisor and/or grant administrator to inform them of your
interest in contacting a legislator. In general, state
- Meet with a legislator to discuss a public health or social
problem as an overall educational strategy that is not tied to specific
- Respond to a legislative request for data, information, or
- Provide legislators with background and educational material
that would be relevant to specific legislation, without calling for action on
- Discuss your position - or your program's position - on a policy
issue or issues. Keep in mind, the discussion should advocate for a
specific view or vote on the legislation.
- Discuss specific pieces of legislation and their
public health/social impact, as long as you do not advocate for a specific view
or vote on that legislation.
- Track legislators positions, votes, and contributions accepted.
- Participate in non-partisan analysis on policy issues, including
specific legislative issues.
- Meet or contact your personal legislative representatives as a
private citizen on your personal time and with your personal communication
- See examples of Advocacy
vs. Lobbying Activities.