SECTION 1. PURPOSE.
.01 This Order prescribes policies, procedures and responsibilities to implement the authority of the Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs under Department Organization Order (DOO) 10-12 to advise the Secretary on legislative issues and Congressional relations and on the Department of Commerce’s (the Department) relationship with State, county, and municipal governments and their associations.
.02 This Order prescribes policies, procedures, and responsibilities for responding to mail, fax, e-mail or telephone inquiries from Members of Congress, Congressional Committees, their respective staffs or the Congressional Research Service, and Intergovernmental entities including State, county, municipal governments and their associations (local governments) for the purpose of assuring that the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary and the Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs (Assistant Secretary) are aware of all significant Congressional and Intergovernmental interest in matters involving the Department.
.03 This Order also fixes signature and clearance levels; sets time limitations for responding to Congressional and Intergovernmental correspondence and inquiries; and enumerates responsibilities regarding legislative responsibilities.
.04 This revision:
a. updates procedures related to Congressional correspondence;
b. adds policies, procedures and responsibilities for the operation of the Department’s Congressional activities including Congressional casework, nominations, Congressional notification of grants and contracts, details to the Congress, hearings and reports to Congress;
c. extends these policies, procedures and responsibilities to the operation of the Department’s relationship with State, county, and municipal governments and their associations;
d. changes the title of the Order to reflect these changes; and
e. provides an exception to the Order for the Office of Inspector General.
SECTION 2. APPLICATION.
.01 This Order applies throughout the Department with respect to the conduct of Congressional and Intergovernmental relations and activities.
.02 This Order does not apply to correspondence marked “personal,” “addressee only,” or marked in a manner otherwise indicative of being a personal, rather than an official, communication.
SECTION 3. RESPONSIBILITIES.
.01 Secretarial Officers, Heads of Operating Units, and Heads of Departmental Offices.
a. Compliance with the provisions of this Order. Secretarial Officers, heads of operating units, and heads of Departmental offices shall be responsible for legislative activities related to their respective organizations and are responsible for compliance with the provisions of this Order in connection with those activities.
b. Liaison to OLIA. As necessary, and within available resources, Secretarial Officers, heads of operating units, and heads of Departmental offices should designate a specific person or organizational unit to:
1. provide liaison with OLIA;
2. identify, keep track of, and follow up on all Congressional and Intergovernmental correspondence or inquiries received by, or assigned to, the office or organization; and
3. carry out such relevant responsibilities and authorities as may be specified by the Secretarial Officer, the head of the operating unit, or the head of the Departmental office.
.02 Head of the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs.
a. The Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs advises and apprises the Secretary on legislative issues and Congressional relations and on the Department’s relationship with State, county, and municipal governments and their associations. The Assistant Secretary manages the Department’s relationships with its Congressional committees of jurisdiction across the Department’s bureaus. The Assistant Secretary’s responsibilities are prescribed in DOO 10-12, “Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs.”
b. Through OLIA, the Secretary and Deputy Secretary shall be promptly informed, and kept fully advised, of all significant Congressional and intergovernmental correspondence or inquiries, as defined in Section 5 of this Order.
c. The Assistant Secretary, pursuant to the authority outlined in DOO 10-12, may delegate any or all procedures and responsibilities outlined in this Order to the head of any operating unit office of legislative affairs.
SECTION 4. DEFINITIONS.
In identifying matters which are significant and not routine, the following considerations shall apply:
.01 Routine matters include: requests for information or data which the Department commonly provides, requests for Department publications, employment applications, expressions of appreciation, referred constituent inquiries, and clear cut factual matters.
.02 Significant matters include: recommendations concerning or criticisms of Departmental policy or conduct reflecting or establishing policy; matters of a politically sensitive nature; requests for internal memoranda or documents of the Department; any matter which is or has been controversial or could possibly engender controversy; personnel actions involving a named official, employee, or applicant; expressions of opinion on matters of interest to the Department; requests dealing with controversial aspects of major current issues; and, commentary on pending or proposed legislation or budgetary matters. Any questions about whether a particular matter is significant for the purpose of this Order should be immediately referred for resolution to the Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs.
SECTION 5. PROCEDURES.
.01 Congressional Correspondence and Inquires.
a. All Congressional and intergovernmental correspondence or inquiries shall receive priority attention and processing.
b. Expedited Handling. Written (faxed or mailed) correspondence from a Chairman or Ranking Member of a committee to the Secretary and/or Deputy Secretary will be answered within five business days of receipt. All other Congressional and Intergovernmental written correspondence will be answered within ten business days of receipt. If a response is not feasible within the appropriate timeframe, then a letter acknowledging receipt will be sent within five business days. A sample of such a letter is attached as an exhibit to this order.
c. Incoming Correspondence and Inquiries.
1 Telephone Inquiries. OLIA shall be immediately notified of all telephone inquiries on matters that are significant as defined in Section 5 of this Order. These telephone inquiries shall be returned on the same day they are received. Excluded from this requirement are telephone conversations involving routine matters.
2. Email. All email received from Congress will have its receipt acknowledged on the day of receipt. Responses will be delivered within five days. If the nature of the email inquiry is significant as defined in Section 5 of this Order, then the email inquiry should be acknowledged on the day of receipt and responded to by the end of business the following day.
3. Written correspondence. All incoming written (i.e., mail or fax) Congressional and Intergovernmental correspondence shall be immediately entered into the receiving office’s (either an operating unit or the Department) Executive Secretariat system for response. Refer to paragraph .01d. of this Section for response procedures.
4. Significant Correspondence. If the incoming written Congressional and Intergovernmental correspondence directed to an operating unit is significant as defined in Section 5 of this Order, an information copy shall be delivered immediately to OLIA.
d. Outgoing Correspondence
1. Once an operating unit’s Executive Secretariat receives incoming correspondence, the appropriate operating unit office will be tasked to prepare a response based on the operating unit’s procedures.
2. Responses to correspondence not addressed to the Secretary, Deputy Secretary or Assistant Secretary will be cleared via the operating unit’s Executive Secretariat by the head of the operating unit and the operating unit’s Office of Legislative Affairs, Chief Counsel or General Counsel, and any other offices specified in the operating unit’s clearance procedures. Replies to routine correspondence will be prepared for signature by the program official responsible for the area of inquiry.
3. Responses to correspondence not addressed to the Secretary, Deputy Secretary or Assistant Secretary that is significant correspondence as defined by Section 5 of this Order will be transmitted through Executive Secretariat to the Department for clearance. Responses will be cleared through the Office of Public Affairs, OLIA, the Office of the General Counsel, and other organizations as appropriate. Replies to significant matters may be signed only by an official listed in the Appendix attached to this Order, unless:
(a) OLIA, after consultation with the General Counsel, stipulates otherwise, or
(b) The Secretarial Officer or other Presidential appointee concerned stipulates additional clearances or a higher signature level.
4. Incoming correspondence directed to the Secretary, Deputy Secretary or Assistant Secretary that was entered into the Department’s Executive Secretariat system will be tasked to the relevant operating unit’s Executive Secretariat which will task the appropriate operating unit office to compose an appropriate response.
5. Responses to correspondence addressed to the Secretary, Deputy Secretary or Assistant Secretary that were prepared by an operating unit’s Office of Legislative Affairs will be cleared through that operating unit following the procedures outlined in paragraph .01d.2. of this Section and then will be transmitted from the operating unit’s Executive Secretariat to the Department’s Executive Secretariat. The response will then be cleared through the Department as outlined in paragraph 01d.3 of this Section and then signed by either the Secretary, Deputy Secretary or Assistant Secretary, as determined by the Assistant Secretary.
.02 Reports to Congress.
a. All reports to Congress required by law from the Department must be completed on time. OLIA and Office of General Counsel staff shall be consulted as the report is prepared.
b. Department Congressional reports must be cleared by the Assistant Secretary as prescribed in DAO 218-3, “Reports to Congress Required by Law.”
c. OLIA will liaise with Congressional committees in regard to Department Congressional reports.
.03 Legislative Activities.
a. OLIA will support the Office of the General Counsel in the preparation of all Department officials for participation in Congressional hearings as detailed in DAO 218-1, “Legislative Activities.” OLIA shall be given the opportunity to clear on all testimony to be presented by Departmental officials.
b. The Assistant Secretary is responsible for ensuring all Department hearing witnesses are properly prepared in conjunction with operating unit offices and in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel and Office of Budget. OLIA staff will liaise with Congressional committee staff in regard to all hearing details. OLIA staff will provide notifications of hearings scheduled and summaries of hearings held.
c. OLIA will support Office of Budget with appropriations or related budget matters under the Office of the Budget’s purview as outlined in DAO 203-1, “Appropriation Requests and Related Budget Matters.”
.04 Details to Congressional Offices.
a. Congressional details from the Department are subject to the policies and procedures detailed in Section 6 of DAO 202-334, “Details,” and will be coordinated with OLIA.
b. The Assistant Secretary is responsible for tracking all Department details to Congressional offices.
c. Secretarial Officers, heads of operating units, and heads of Departmental offices shall inform the Assistant Secretary of all employees under their purview who are detailed to Congressional offices.
a. The Assistant Secretary is responsible for handling all Department nominations. Nominations and confirmation hearings will be handled as prescribed in the OLIA procedures manual referenced in paragraph .08 of this Section.
b. Secretarial Officers, heads of operating units, and heads of Departmental offices shall support the Assistant Secretary in handling Departmental nominations.
.06 General Liaison and Casework Activities.
a. OLIA staff shall serve as Department liaisons to Congressional members and their staff. In this role, OLIA staff will manage responses to Congressional casework as requested by Congress.
b. The Assistant Secretary is responsible for ensuring, in conjunction with operating unit heads, that all Congressional casework is handled in a timely manner.
.07 Grants and Contracts.
a. Secretarial Officers, heads of operating units, and heads of Departmental offices shall deliver notifications of awarded grants to Congress pursuant to the Department’s Interim Grants Manual. Notifications of awarded contracts to Congress shall be delivered pursuant to the operating unit’s acquisition policy. All grant and contract award notification will be delivered to Congress in a timely manner. Such notifications will come from OLIA or an operating unit’s Office of Legislative Affairs pursuant to the procedures outlined in OLIA and operating unit procedures manuals. Determinations of what awards notifications are made by OLIA rather than an operating unit are made pursuant to policies and procedures of OLIA. Notifications of contract awards shall be made consistent with operating unit acquisition policy and in the manner prescribed in OLIA and operating unit procedures manuals.
.08 Procedures Manual.
a. OLIA shall operate by following the procedures prescribed in this Order and other such procedures as specified in the OLIA procedures manual which shall be updated semi-annually. Detailed procedures for all activities discussed in Section 6 of this Order are provided in the OLIA procedures manual and should be followed by all relevant Department personnel.
SECTION 6. IMPLEMENTING DIRECTIVES.
Any operating unit directive proposed in implementation of this Order must be cleared with the Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs and the General Counsel.
SECTION 7. EXCEPTIONS
Nothing in this order shall affect:
.01 The General Counsel's responsibilities for supervising and coordinating development of the Department's legislative program, the preparation or review of all legislative proposals the enactment of which is deemed desirable by the Department, expressions of official opinion as to the merits of proposed or pending legislation, and statements concerning proposed or pending legislation to be made before committees of the Congress or the policies, procedures and requirements of Department Administrative Order 218-1, “Legislative Activities.”
.02 The Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration's responsibilities for the presentation to the Congress of budget estimates of the Department and for direct liaison with the Appropriation Committees of the Congress and their staffs, or the requirements of Department Administrative Order 203-1.
.03 The Office of the Inspector General’s responsibilities with respect to its own congressional and legislative affairs. The Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, requires the Office of Inspector General to maintain an independent reporting relationship with both the Secretary and Congress.
SECTION 8. EFFECT ON OTHER ORDERS.
This order supersedes Department Administrative Order 218-2, "Congressional Correspondence and Inquiries" of April 12, 1974.
Signed by: Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs
Approved by: Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration
Office of Primary Interest: Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs
CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENCE AND INQUIRIES
SECTION A. SIGNATURE AUTHORITY
The following officials of the Department are authorized to sign replies to Congressional and Intergovernmental correspondence which deal with significant subject matters:
a. the Secretary, Deputy Secretary and the General Counsel
b. Presidentially-appointed officials on matters specifically within their respective purview
c. Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs
d. Assistant Secretary, National Telecommunications and Information Administration
e. Assistant Secretary, Economic Development Administration
f. Under Secretary, Economics and Statistics Administration
g. Under Secretary, Bureau of Industry and Security
h. Under Secretary, International Trade Administration
i. Under Secretary, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
j. Director, Minority Business Development Agency
k. Director, National Technical Information Service
l. Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology
m. Director, Bureau of the Census
n. Director, Bureau of Economic Analysis
o. Under Secretary, Patent and Trademark Office
[Month] [Day], [Year] SAMPLE
LETTER OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT
Honorable [First Name] [Middle Initial]. [Last Name]
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
I write on the Secretary’s behalf to inform you that the Department of Commerce has received your [Month] [Day], [Year] letter on behalf of [CONSTITUENT NAME] regarding [ISSUE].
You may be assured that we will give this matter our closest attention and that a further response will be transmitted to you at an early date.
Assistant Secretary for Legislative
and Intergovernmental Affairs