It is well known that lobbying, which can serve the public function of making information more accessible to legislators, also can taint the government decision-making and public procurement process. Those private citizens who seek to modify or enact legislation, or secure government contracts either on behalf of themselves or third parties, and who are compensated for such activity should be subject to lobbying registration and reporting requirements. Requirements may entail identifying the names of the individuals and businesses, the issue or action for which they lobbied, the names of the government officials and employees contacted on behalf of the issue or action and levels and the amount of compensation awarded for such activity.
To regulate the process of lobbying in order to create a fair ground for all parties in a given issue.
To make available from a central point – usually the governing authority of a region – the lists and contacts of professional lobbyists for parties requiring such services.
To make accessible the activities of lobbyists and their principles as well as outcomes of issues lobbied for, to the general public.
Linkage to Transparency
Lobbying generally comprises the act of influencing or attempting to influence executive or legislative action through oral or written communication with an executive or legislative official and/or the solicitation of others to influence an executive or legislative official. The practice is widespread, though it may be considered legal in some countries and illegal in others. Where permitted, it is important that process of lobbying be kept as transparent as possible to minimise the risk of exertion of undue influence through fear or favour. Lobbyist registration advances the public’s access to information pertaining to the various "special interests" participating in policy making processes, thereby building transparency.
How it Works – The Key Elements
It is not unusual for business and organizations to need representation before a governing or administrative body, or government agencies. Many large entities employ lobbyists on a full-time basis, but even they sometimes need additional help in the form of contract lobbyists. Identifying an experienced, reputable lobbyist suited to an organization's needs is imprecise at best. Therefore, it is useful by regulation to register lobbyists.
Lobbyist registration is often done at the central/national level, but is evidence can be done at the local level within the governing administration. The procedure involves:
Enactment of legislation at the national or local level to back the registration exercise
A standard procedure for undertaking the registration, which normally would require background details of both the lobbyist and the principal (the entity/organization or individual being lobbied for). It normally also entails a minimal fee to be paid by the lobbyists being registered.
Making the registration (and updating) exercise regular – for instance, on an annual basis.
Automatic suspension for lobbyists who fail to pay required fines.
Prohibition for lobbyists retained by a local government to then represent third parties before the local government (designed to curb potential conflicts of interest created if the interests of the third party are adverse to the local government the lobbyist also represents).
Exemptions for citizen/civil society and non-profit groups (so as not to deter or hinder access to organizations, some with limited economic means, who are speaking on public policy or general community matters.)
Regulated Lobbying in the City & County of San Francisco, California, USA
Lobbying Reform in the City of Miami Beach, USA
Regulating Lobbying at the National Level - The Lobbying Disclosure Act, USA
Some Requirements for Lobbyists and their registration in Commonwealth Virginia, USA
Further information and contacts
San Francisco, California, USA
Miami Dade County, USA
Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust,
19 W. Flagler ST, #207, Miami, FL 33130, USA.
Namibia Association of Local Authorities Officers,
80 Independence Avenue, Box 59, Windhoek, Namibia.
Tel.: +264-61-2902615; Fax: +264-61-2902344;
Namibian Institute for Democracy,
P.O. Box 11956, Windhoek, Namibia
Tel: +264-61-229117/8, Fax: +264-61-229119,
Management Systems International,
600 Water Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA.
Tel.: +1-202-484-7170, Fax: +1-202-488-0754,
United States Agency for International Development,
The Lobbyist Specialist, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth,
P.O. Box 2454, Richmond, Virginia 23218-2454, USA.
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