11.5.2  Congressional Affairs Program

11.5.2.1  (03-01-2006)
History of Congressional Affairs Program

  1. The Congressional Affairs Program (CAP) is an official IRS program, approved by the Executive Committee on December 1, 1988, and first implemented in early 1989.

  2. Prior to 2001, District and Service Center executives managed local congressional relationships. Currently, Legislative Affairs manages CAP in coordination with Governmental Liaisons (GL) and Local Taxpayer Advocates (LTA) in each state. The GLs and LTAs serve as CAP contacts in the field. Each organization brings specific skills necessary for the program’s success

11.5.2.2  (03-01-2006)
Congressional Affairs Program Mission and Objectives

  1. The overall objectives of the Congressional Affairs Program are to:

    1. Establish and maintain IRS relationships and provide clear consistent, corporate messages to congressional offices at the local level.

    2. Provide a primary point of local contact between the IRS Operating/Functional Divisions and local congressional offices.

  2. The Congressional Affairs Program helps IRS develop and maintain positive working relationships with Members and staffs of their congressional delegations by:

    1. Managing relationships with local congressional offices in every state,

    2. Organizing regular outreach and liaison efforts to deliver corporate information and messages, and

    3. Coordinating with Local Taxpayer Advocates on congressional correspondence and other issues as needed.

11.5.2.3  (03-01-2006)
Organizational Structure

  1. Implementation of the Congressional Affairs Program in the field requires a coordinated effort between Legislative Affairs, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure, the Taxpayer Advocate Service, and the Operating Divisions.

11.5.2.3.1  (03-01-2006)
Legislative Affairs

  1. At National Headquarters (NHQ), the National Director for Legislative Affairs is the principal advisor to the Chief, Communications and Liaison, Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioners, and top executives of the IRS on all legislative and congressional matters related to tax administration.

  2. Legislative Affairs consists of the Legislation and Reports Branch, Congressional Affairs Branch, and the Congressional Correspondence Branch.

  3. Legislative Affairs provides a national level of coordination, oversight and guidance for the Congressional Affairs Program.

11.5.2.3.2  (03-01-2006)
National Headquarters Governmental Liaison and Disclosure

  1. The Office of Governmental Liaison and Disclosure (GLD) is a unit of SB/SE Communications, Liaison and Disclosure (CLD). The Director, GLD, works in coordination with the Congressional Affairs Branch to manage the Congressional Affairs Program.

  2. National Headquarters GLD receives strategic direction from Legislative Affairs in delivering the Congressional Affairs Program.

11.5.2.3.3  (03-01-2006)
Governmental Liaison and Disclosure Area Manager

  1. Area Managers, located nationwide, report to the Director, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure, at Headquarters. Area Managers have responsibility for oversight of the field Congressional Affairs Program.

11.5.2.3.4  (03-01-2006)
Governmental Liaisons

  1. Geographically located throughout the country, the Governmental Liaisons serve as the Congressional Affairs Branch field presence. As the primary relationship managers for local congressional offices, the Governmental Liaisons manage day-to-day contacts with local congressional staffs on non-account-related issues. GLs work closely with Taxpayer Advocates in the field to ensure congressional messages are clear, consistent, and timely.

11.5.2.3.5  (03-01-2006)
Taxpayer Advocate Service

  1. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is headed by the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA), who reports to the Commissioner. Each state and campus has at least one Local Taxpayer Advocate (LTA) who is independent of the local IRS office and reports directly to the NTA. TAS plays a key role in the Congressional Affairs Program by handling tax account related issues.

11.5.2.4  (03-01-2006)
Congressional Affairs Program and Governmental Liaison Strategic Plans

  1. Overall guidance and strategies for Congressional Affairs Program activities can be found in the Communications & Liaison Division Strategy and Program Plan.

  2. The SBSE Communications, Liaison, & Disclosure (CLD) Program Letter is an annual plan that establishes the areas of emphasis for the Governmental Liaison and Disclosure programs for the fiscal year. Included in the program letter is specific guidance for the successful implementation of the Congressional Affairs Program within GLD.

  3. The CLD Program Letter is provided to Governmental Liaisons through their Area Managers.

11.5.2.5  (03-01-2006)
Legal and Policy Considerations

  1. Congress, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Treasury, and the Service have all placed restrictions on the various aspects of the substance, extent, and the manner of congressional communications. Governmental Liaisons must be mindful of these restrictions during their interactions with Members of Congress and their staffs. Questions or specific situations should be referred by memo to the National Director, Legislative Affairs, via the GLD Area Manager.

    1. Congress has prohibited any "lobbying" by the executive branch of government using appropriated funds; lobbying has been defined as trying in any way to influence a Member of Congress to vote a certain way on a certain bill. The Comptroller General (GAO) has ruled that this also applies to "grassroots" efforts by agencies to have other groups lobby Congress. (18 U.S.C. § 1913)

    2. OMB rules require that all official agency comments on pending legislation be cleared through them. CAP coordinators in the field cannot provide legislative proposals or comments on pending legislation to a Member of Congress or a staffer without first clearing it with the Legislative Affairs Division at Headquarters. (OMB Circular A-19 and Treasury Directive 28-02)

    3. Any discussions concerning the IRS budget must be handled very carefully. While CAP coordinators are generally allowed to discuss the use of existing resources locally, it is best to avoid discussions of the overall IRS budget and its policy/program implications. (OMB Circular A-11)

    4. Comments on legislation may only be made with the approval of the Commissioner or designee, and must be limited to the administrative aspects of the legislation. For example, a GL, with prior approval, could discuss how a proposed bill might affect taxpayers and/or the IRS administratively. (IRS Policy Statement P-1-24)

    5. Legislative reports, records, and studies made by IRS are, in most cases, pre-decisional documents, which may be protected from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Such documents may not be disclosed to the public unless the disclosure is made by, or authorized by, the Office of the Secretary or the Commissioner. (IRS Policy Statement P-1-25)

    6. When authorized by the Office of the Secretary or the Commissioner, IRS can furnish technical and drafting assistance with tax legislation to congressional committees, their staffs, the legislative counsels in the House and Senate, and other government agencies. In certain circumstances, and when authorized by the Commissioner, IRS can furnish assistance on proposed legislation affecting the IRS or tax administration to individual Members of Congress and individuals outside the Treasury Department. (IRS Policy Statement P-1-26)

    7. Employees may not use government time, money, or property to influence Members of Congress to favor or oppose legislation. (IRS Rules of Conduct 217.3)

11.5.2.6  (03-01-2006)
Congressional Affairs Program Roles and Responsibilities

  1. Implementation of the Congressional Affairs Program in the field requires a coordinated effort between Legislative Affairs, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure, the Taxpayer Advocate Service, and the Operating Divisions.

11.5.2.6.1  (03-01-2006)
Legislative Affairs

  1. The Legislative Affairs Division manages and enhances the IRS relationship with Members of Congress and their staffs, serves as the central coordinating point to achieve legislative objectives, and assists in ensuring continued congressional support. Its role is to:

    1. Establish the strategies and direction of the Congressional Affairs Program:

      • As part of the Filing Season Readiness Committee, identify filing season messages and share with Governmental Liaisons/Local Taxpayer Advocates.

      • Establish a work group that includes Taxpayer Advocate Service, the Office of Governmental Liaison, GLD Area Managers, and field Governmental Liaisons on an ad hoc basis to establish a plan of action/activity for each fiscal year.

      • Coordinate actions and resources with the Office of Governmental Liaison to maximize efficiency and reduce redundancy.

      • Provide trend analysis from issues raised by Governmental Liaisons.

    2. Share corporate messages with Governmental Liaisons:

      • Coordinate with Operating/Functional Divisions to identify key messages for Congressional Affairs Program activity.

      • Meet regularly with Operating/Functional Division contacts to identify key corporate messages and ensure consistency of messages.

      • Communicate updates on congressional hearings, legislative issues or other information valuable to Governmental Liaisons.

    3. Identify issues and trends by providing alerts and updates, talking points, guidance, and letter templates.

    4. Provide support to Governmental Liaisons:

      • Provide relevant information on issues/hot topics that will assist the Governmental Liaisons in their local interactions.

      • Provide the Legislative Affairs Web site as a viable source for timely information sharing.

      • Issue a periodic newsletter for Governmental Liaisons to distribute to congressional offices, including a section for local customizing by each Governmental Liaison to highlight issues of local interest.

      • Provide legislative updates.

      • Provide timely and updated outreach materials.

11.5.2.6.2  (03-01-2006)
National Headquarters Governmental Liaison

  1. The Office of Governmental Liaison is responsible for assisting the Legislative Affairs Division with the Congressional Affairs Program by supporting its goals. The Office of Governmental Liaison’s role is to:

    1. Coordinate Governmental Liaison communications and messages with similar Congressional Affairs Program efforts.

    2. Identify and coordinate resources in support of the Congressional Affairs Program.

    3. Assist in ongoing training and education for Governmental Liaisons.

    4. Coordinate with Legislative Affairs on training and other conferences.

11.5.2.6.3  (03-01-2006)
Governmental Liaison and Disclosure Area Manager

  1. The Governmental Liaison and Disclosure Area Manager’s role is to:

    1. Provide leadership, direction and coordination for area Congressional Affairs Program activity by:

      • Ensuring all correspondence is handled in a timely and professional manner.

      • Ensuring Governmental Liaisons are maintaining appropriate level of visitations and routine communication with congressional offices.

      • Sharing information within and between areas as trends and issues are identified by Governmental Liaisons.

      • Elevating best practices developed by Governmental Liaisons and sharing for replication.

    2. Provide guidance on time reporting and workload balances by:

      • Ensuring Governmental Liaisons are correctly using the Congressional Affairs Program Contact Database.

      • Balancing workload demands and providing additional resources/support to Governmental Liaisons as necessary to deliver Congressional Affairs Program objectives.

      • Assisting the Governmental Liaisons in resolving sensitive/high profile issues related to congressional visits, correspondence, and contacts.

    3. Coordinate Operating/Functional Division field executive activity by:

      • Ensuring field executive counterparts are apprised of significant Congressional Affairs Program events.

      • Providing field executive counterparts with information on key issues of interest to the Operating/Functional Divisions raised by congressional delegations.

      • Obtaining feedback from field executive counterparts on Congressional Affairs Program issues, quality of the program and interest level.

    4. On an ongoing basis, provide Legislative Affairs with updates regarding significant Congressional Affairs Program events, sensitive issues, etc.

    5. Provide support for ongoing and new Congressional Affairs Program projects by:

      • Leveraging resources to properly balance workload among Governmental Liaisons within the area to ensure overall quality of the program.

      • Coordinating with other areas as appropriate.

      • Sharing information among and between areas as trends are identified by Governmental Liaisons that can migrate to other states/congressional offices.

      • Identifying best practices developed by Governmental Liaisons and sharing for replication.

11.5.2.6.4  (03-01-2006)
Governmental Liaisons

  1. Governmental Liaisons represent the agency and provide outreach on corporate messages through monthly contacts with all local congressional offices. GLs and Local Taxpayer Advocates should work closely on congressional correspondence, issues, visits, and liaison meetings, as they are co-coordinators in these program areas.

    1. In their role as the primary field point of contact on corporate messages between the IRS and Congressional staff, the Governmental Liaisons should:

      • Contact each local congressional office, monthly, at a minimum.

      • It may be useful to provide Document 12188 , Office of Governmental Liaison, to the congressional offices as a way to introduce the local GL and to provide a description of GL roles and responsibilities.

      • Disseminate key agency information using the communication vehicle identified/preferred by the local congressional staff.

      • Ensure critical, time-sensitive information is shared with congressional offices.

      • Visit local congressional offices.

      • Schedule or respond to requests for meetings.

      • Support congressional requests for assistance (i.e., disaster outreach, town hall meetings, etc.) using the appropriate OD/FD resources.

    2. Establish and manage relationships between the IRS and Congress at the field level by:

      • Pro-actively developing and enhancing relationships with their local staffs and with Members of Congress.

      • Educating themselves about their Members of Congress. Web sites, newspapers, and other resources are useful for developing a file containing information relevant to each of their members. Examples of such items include committee assignments, congressional demographics, and major IRS issues or legislation of interest to members.

    3. The Governmental Liaisons coordinate all Operating/Functional Division interactions with local Congressional offices by:

      • Marketing the concept of a single point of contact for non-account-related issues.

      • Coordinating with the Operating/Functional Divisions to communicate and market their initiatives and key messages.

      • Sharing items of interest with appropriate local Operating/Functional Division management.

      • Assisting the Operating/Functional Divisions in addressing systemic issues/concerns; identifying areas where sensitivity exists, and facilitating enhanced working relationships between the Operating/Functional Divisions and Governmental Liaisons.

    4. Governmental Liaisons are responsible for educating local congressional offices on key corporate messages and programs. This can be done by planning and hosting periodic congressional staff liaison meetings which will also provide a coordinated forum for the Operating/Functional Divisions to interact with the local congressional staffs.

    5. Ensure consistency of IRS messages to local congressional offices. Helpful tools include the Communications News Release System and the Legislative Affairs Web site.

    6. Generate understanding and support for IRS proposals and programs by communicating issues of interest to local congressional offices. Localize key messages as appropriate.

    7. A critical Governmental Liaison responsibility is to respond to congressional inquiries (non-tax account related). This is accomplished by:

      • Timely managing correspondence inventory.

      • Coordinating congressional inquiries with the local Taxpayer Advocate.

      • Utilizing standard IRS correspondence bullets available via SERP, forms, publications, media releases, and Congressional Affairs Program issue letters.

      • Using the Congressional Affairs Program Contact Database to report inquiries.

      • Establishing key points of contact in the Operating/Functional Divisions for technical assistance, or use of the existing Operating/Functional Division Memoranda of Understanding.

    8. Legislative Affairs should be informed of local issues that may have nation-wide impact. This can be accomplished by:

      • Entering results of local congressional office visits on the Congressional Affairs Program Contact database.

      • Immediately elevating hot or sensitive issues to Legislative Affairs and the Operating/Functional Division via Area Manager.

11.5.2.6.4.1  (03-01-2006)
Governmental Liaison Subject Matter Expert Program

  1. The Subject Matter Expert Program (SME) is designed to provide technical expertise on GLD programs through peer-to-peer assistance on an as-needed basis.  Procedures for this program and the SME assignments, including congressional liaison SMEs, are located on the GLD Intranet Web site at http://sbse.web.irs.gov/GLD/Programs/GLD/SME.htm.

11.5.2.6.4.2  (03-01-2006)
Do's and Don'ts in Dealing with Congress

  1. The following table provides guidance for interactions with Members of Congress and their staff.

    Do... Don't...
    Have a positive attitude. Be shy or apologetic.
    Plan to explain and defend (if needed) your office’s programs, products, and services, as well as any national concerns. Think it is someone else’s job.
    Remember that you are providing quality customer service to an important external stakeholder. Be afraid to tell them what your office appropriately can do for them and their constituents.
    Remember that Legislative Affairs is a legitimate function of all federal agencies. The IRS Legislative Affairs Division has already provided Members of Congress and their staffs considerable information and material on the IRS and tax administration issues. Feel that speaking with, writing to, or visiting Members and/or staffs is somehow inappropriate.

    Be surprised if the Member/staff are familiar with certain IRS items; use that to lead into your message about your office.
    Call on Legislative Affairs for general or specific advice on all matters relating to Congress (schedules, map, reference books, bill status, committee memberships, current events, etc.) Hesitate to check (it could save some embarrassment).
    Concentrate on providing education and information. Avoid "lobbying" or the appearance of " lobbying" : trying to influence the Member on a specific issue or bill. Tell the Member or the staff your opinion on an issue or bill (you could be quoted).
    Stick to educating Members and staff on your office’s organization, programs, operations, products and services, and national programs of interest. Talk about other agencies or issues.
    Avoid discussions of specific tax or other legislation whenever possible.
    • Advise that IRS, Treasury and OMB require prior clearance on any comments, which will be limited to administrative concerns in any event.

    • Suggest that the Member write directly to the Assistant Secretary (Tax Policy) or to the Commissioner.

    Say that a particular bill is good or bad, or that you favor or don’t favor it.

    Feel bad about referring such questions where they belong.
    Avoid discussion of IRS budget/appropriations whenever possible.
    • Stick to whatever resources you have in your office and how you are using them.

    • Suggest that any questions on overall IRS programs or budget be sent to the Commissioner.

    Say that you need more resources (everyone has that problem--even Members of Congress).

    Feel bad about referring such questions where they belong.
    Remember that anything discussed by the IRS in prepared testimony has been cleared by Treasury and OMB can be discussed with Members and staff. Go beyond what is in the testimony.
    Follow-up to ensure that you have addressed all their concerns. Forget.
    Keep Legislative Affairs advised of any significant items or developments you learn about. Keep it to yourself.

11.5.2.6.5  (03-01-2006)
Local Taxpayer Advocates

  1. The Local Taxpayer Advocates and the Governmental Liaisons are responsible for the Congressional Affairs Program in the field. Each party brings specific skills to the program. Both work together closely with a spirit of cooperation to serve the best interests of local congressional offices and their constituents, as well as the best interest of the IRS. The Local Taxpayer Advocate:

    1. Has primary responsibility for all tax account related issues.

    2. Develops advocacy issues and represents taxpayers.

    3. Coordinates with Governmental Liaisons on congressional contacts and visits (see IRM 13.1.8, Taxpayer Advocate Case Procedures, Congressional Affairs Program).

    4. Conveys the messages contained in the National Taxpayer Advocate’s Annual Report to Congress, which should not be misconstrued as influencing Members of Congress under IRS Rules of Conduct. IRC 7803(c)(2)(B)(ii)requires the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate to make legislative recommendations to resolve problems encountered by taxpayers.

11.5.2.7  (03-01-2006)
Interaction with Local Congressional Offices

  1. The Congressional Affairs Program in the field is a joint responsibility of the Local Taxpayer Advocates and Governmental Liaisons for each state. The Local Taxpayer Advocates are the Congressional Affairs Program contacts for account-related issues and the Governmental Liaisons are Congressional Affairs Program contacts for agency representation. They work together to serve the best interests of local congressional offices and their constituents, as well as the best interests of the IRS. For additional reference, see IRM 11.4.1, Governmental Liaison.

11.5.2.7.1  (03-01-2006)
Legislative Affairs Communiques

  1. Communiques are issued periodically by Legislative Affairs to all Governmental Liaisons, Governmental Liaison & Disclosure Area Managers, Office of Governmental Liaison Staff, Legislative Affairs (Congressional Affairs Branch), Taxpayer Advocate Service, Taxpayer Advocate Communications Staff, Local Taxpayer Advocates and embedded Communications staff in W&I, SB/SE and LMSB on pertinent IRS issues.

  2. These communiques specify whether the issue is "Information Only" or "Action Required" and include:

    1. A reference number.

    2. An issue summary that contains:

      • Details about the issue.

      • The message to be communicated to the Congressional Offices.

      • The message to be communicated to the States, if appropriate.

      • Recommended Governmental Liaison, Congressional Affairs Program, Governmental Liaison, Fed/State, and Local Taxpayer Advocate Congressional Affairs Program actions.

    3. Attachments may include a news release, fact sheet or other guidance for issuance to state agencies and/or congressional offices.

  3. All communiques can be found on the Intranet, under Legislative Affairs, Congressional Affairs Program, CAP Message Catalog, at http://www.hq.irs.gov/la/BranchB/CAP/CAP%20Message%20Catalog/Catalog.htm .

11.5.2.7.2  (03-01-2006)
Congressional Newsletter

  1. The IRS Congressional Update Newsletter is published at least three times a year as a joint Governmental Liaison/Legislative Affairs effort.

  2. A team comprised of Governmental Liaisons and a Taxpayer Advocate Service designee meet via conference calls throughout the year to discuss articles and deadlines for each edition.

    • January – filing season messages

    • May – post filing season update

    • August/September – latest IRS updates

    • Special editions (i.e., tax law changes, policy/program changes, etc.)

  3. Each team member is responsible for soliciting articles from an operating division(s) at the national level. The Operating/Functional Division contacts are responsible for providing articles in final, approved format for publication.

  4. After formatting and team review, the Congressional Update is sent to Legislative Affairs for final approval.

  5. The newsletter is issued via electronic format by Legislative Affairs to all Governmental Liaisons, Governmental Liaison & Disclosure Area Managers, Office of Governmental Liaison Staff, Legislative Affairs (Congressional Affairs Branch), Taxpayer Advocate Service, TAS Communications Staff, Local Taxpayer Advocates and embedded Communications Staff in W&I, SB/SE and LMSB.

  6. Governmental Liaisons are encouraged to insert local information such as Tax Assistance Center information, VITA, e-file seminars, Small Business workshops, etc. as a final page.

  7. Governmental Liaisons distribute to all congressional offices for their state(s), in the offices’ preferred method (E-mail, fax or hard copy). This includes distribution to the Washington, D.C. congressional offices.

  8. Governmental Liaisons should document all distributions of the Congressional Update on the Congressional Affairs Program Contact Database as an Outgoing Corporate message. See IRM 11.5.2.10.

11.5.2.7.3  (03-01-2006)
Congressional Office Visits

  1. It is important that the Governmental Liaison and Local Taxpayer Advocate coordinate regular local congressional visits. The purposes of these visits are to:

    1. Develop and maintain relationships and reinforce communications channels.

    2. Discuss corporate messages and topics of mutual interest.

  2. Planning the Visits

    1. The Governmental Liaison and Local Taxpayer Advocate should identify trends and subjects for discussion. Review recent congressional correspondence from members to identify issues so the Governmental Liaison/Local Taxpayer Advocate can be prepared for possible discussion.

    2. Check with the Operating Divisions and Functions to identify current national and local issues or items of interest. Working with Stakeholder Relationship Management Local Councils is one way to identify Operating Division and Function issues (i.e., small business workshops, changes in procedures, Taxpayer Assistance Center hours and services, VITA, etc.).

    3. Develop a specific agenda and/or outline, tailored to individual offices or members, if necessary.

    4. Prepare handouts and/or information packet (i.e., press releases, VITA site listings, contact numbers for constituents, small business or tax products CD-ROMs, announcements of special IRS events, etc.).

  3. Scheduling Visits

    1. Make phone calls to schedule the visits at least one month in advance.

    2. Suggest a date and time for the visit and ask for an appointment. Typically, 30-60 minutes should be sufficient. Also discuss a tentative agenda and ask if there are any concerns that they would like addressed. Be flexible with scheduling visits because the chosen dates and times may not work for the congressional staffer.

    3. To confirm the appointment, send each staffer an E-mail or letter with date, time and topics.

  4. Conducting Visits

    1. The Governmental Liaison and Local Taxpayer Advocate should conduct joint visits to provide a comprehensive view of the Congressional Affairs Program. If you are not visiting jointly with the Local Taxpayer Advocate, provide updated Taxpayer Advocate Service information.

    2. Provide information and handouts and solicit feedback on IRS service and messages.

  5. Evaluating the Visits

    1. Take appropriate and immediate action on any congressional suggestions, requests or comments, and follow-up with the congressional office as necessary. This may require a follow up discussion with the Operating/Functional Divisions and/or Legislative Affairs.

    2. Governmental Liaisons should document all visits with each office on the Congressional Affairs Program Contact Database. See IRM 11.5.2.10.

  6. The following table summarizes the action items necessary for Governmental Liaisons to conduct congressional office visits.

    ACTION RESULT
    Meet with Local Taxpayer Advocate. Identifies preliminary agenda items and date for visit.
    Contact the congressional staffer. Collaborates on date and time of visit and solicit agenda items.
    Check with Operating/Functional Divisions. Identifies current issues or items of interest.
    Develop outline of what you want to accomplish. Focuses on key messages.
    Prepare handouts and/or information packet. Gives staff valuable information and allows Governmental Liaison to focus messages.
    Sort Congressional Affairs Program contact database by member’s name. Identifies trends & subjects to discuss.
    Identify key IRS Committee Members. Identifies members who have interests related to IRS issues and helps to further develop strategic relationships.
    Visit local offices with Local Taxpayer Advocate, if possible. If not, discuss pending visits with Local Taxpayer Advocate before scheduled dates. Provides staffers full view of Congressional Affairs Program. If not visiting with Local Taxpayer Advocate, be sure to provide updated Taxpayer Advocate Service information.
    Provide staffer with current products such as fact sheets, CD-ROMs, office hours, key contact sheets. Adds value to your visit by providing important local information.

11.5.2.7.4  (03-01-2006)
Congressional Liaison Meetings

  1. The Governmental Liaison/Local Taxpayer Advocate should arrange agency meetings with the local congressional staff. These more formal interactions are an excellent opportunity for the IRS to present its strategic objectives and goals. Therefore, consideration should be made to include Operating/Functional Divisions, Counsel, Appeals and other internal/external stakeholders.

  2. Planning the Meeting

    1. The Governmental Liaison/Local Taxpayer Advocate should conduct liaison meetings for their delegation at regular intervals (recommended at least once every two years).

    2. Tailor the meetings to meet the needs of the delegation. For example: if there is high congressional staff turnover, a basic overview of the Governmental Liaison/Local Taxpayer Advocate’s responsibilities and an overview of IRS organization and programs may be appropriate. Other meetings may focus on selected topics of local operations.

    3. Survey the local congressional delegation(s) and staffs on issues/programs they would like to have discussed.

    4. Working with your local Stakeholder Relationship Management Local Council is one way to identify and include specific Operating/Functional Division issues (i.e., IRS procedures, key messages, national initiatives, etc.).

    5. Inform and/or invite the local Field Media Relations Specialist and local Disclosure Officer, as appropriate.

    6. Develop an agenda based on national and local issues, and congressional feedback.

      1. Keep the agenda varied in terms of the topics covered (i.e., general procedures v. technical issues, enforcement v. service), the length of individual sessions, techniques used, and the style of presenters.

      2. Include time for a question and answer session after each presentation or at the end of the meeting.

      3. If there are employees in the local office(s) who deal with the congressional staff frequently, include them in the meeting. For example: include time for local Taxpayer Advocate Staff caseworkers to meet the congressional staffers face-to-face.

    7. Assemble appropriate handouts for participants.

  3. Scheduling the Meeting

    1. Try to schedule the meeting with the local staffs when their Members are not in their congressional district. At the same time, consider seasonal considerations such as summer vacations, winter weather, etc.

    2. Although a full day may be the best (i.e., 9:00 to 3:00), the length of the meeting depends on the topics covered and the preferences of the congressional participants.

    3. Ensure that necessary audio-visual equipment, name tags, pens, paper, etc. are available.

    4. Hold the meeting in space that is convenient and appropriate. Since many local congressional offices have limited travel funds, select a location that is close and convenient for them. Consider touring IRS offices where there are call-sites, campuses, or Taxpayer Assistance Centers.

    5. Consider how to best address refreshments and lunch arrangements, as appropriate.

    6. Invite each congressional office in writing. Follow-up as necessary to get RSVP. Include the agenda, directions/map and parking information with the letter. Make sure to advise the attendees what ID is needed and what the sign-in/escort policy is.

  4. Conducting the Meeting

    1. On the day of the meeting, provide signs/directions in the building to help staffers get to the right location.

    2. Distribute the agenda and keep the meeting on schedule. Introduce speakers for each presentation.

    3. Provide the pre-assembled handouts to the staffers. Mail or deliver the handouts to any staffer who was unable to attend the meeting.

    4. Allow time for staffers to ask questions or raise issues. Ensure that a private area is available for staffers who have case related issues or questions they wish to discuss with the Local Taxpayer Advocate.

  5. Evaluating the Meeting

    1. Survey the participants (informally or formally) for their views and suggestions for future meetings.

    2. Take appropriate and immediate action on any congressional suggestions, requests, or comments and follow-up with the congressional office, as necessary. This may require discussion with Operating/Functional Divisions and/or Legislative Affairs.

    3. Governmental Liaisons should document the meeting and any feedback on the Congressional Affairs Program Contact Database. See IRM 11.5.2.10.

11.5.2.7.5  (03-01-2006)
Correspondence

  1. Congressional Correspondence will be assigned and worked depending on the following criteria:

    1. Tax account related congressional inquiries will be assigned to the Local Taxpayer Advocate Office, (for example, an inquiry from a constituent where the IRS denied an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) claim.)

    2. Non-tax account related congressional inquiries will be assigned to the Local Governmental Liaison, (for example, an inquiry from a constituent wanting to know how to claim the EITC).

    3. Non-tax related broad policy or procedural congressional inquiries will be assigned to the National Headquarters Congressional Correspondence Branch, (for example, an inquiry from a constituent questioning why the IRS focuses on auditing low-income taxpayers who receive the EITC.

      1. These cases are controlled through I-TRAK, a Service-wide web-based internal document tracking system.

      2. Complaints concerning IRS employees will be recorded on I-TRAK and forwarded to the Deputy Commissioner of Services and Enforcement Office of Professional Responsibility.

    4. Refer to IRM 13.1.8.3(1), Taxpayer Advocate Service, Assignment, for more information.

  2. Upon receipt by the Governmental Liaison or the Local Taxpayer Advocate, all congressional inquiries will be controlled on TAMIS through the Local Taxpayer Advocate. (Exception: General phone or E-mail inquiries received from a congressional office which can be answered while on the line or immediately on E-mail do not have to be controlled).

  3. Timeframes for Congressional Correspondence received by Governmental Liaisons directly, that are controlled through TAMIS, are as follows:

    1. The response must be received in the congressional office within 20 days of receipt.

    2. If the letter cannot be sent within 20 days, an interim contact must be made with the congressional office by telephone or letter.

  4. Governmental Liaisons will follow the guidelines established in IRM 11.5.3, Legislative Affairs, Guide to Congressional Correspondence. Guidance on disclosure requirements can be found at IRM 11.5.3.7. See also IRM 11.3.4, Disclosure of Official Information - Congressional Inquiries.

  5. For all other routine correspondence, Governmental Liaisons will follow the guidelines established in IRM 1.10.1, Internal Revenue Service Correspondence Manual.

  6. Any congressional correspondence received that could have nationwide implications should be brought to the attention of Legislative Affairs.

  7. Governmental Liaisons should document all written responses to congressional inquiries on the Congressional Affairs database. See IRM 11.5.2.10.

  8. Issue Letters

    1. Governmental Liaisons should refer to the catalog of issue letters, drafted by IRS, when responding to non-tax account related congressional inquiries. These sample letters can be found on the Legislative Affairs Web site at http://www.hq.irs.gov/la/BranchB/CAP/Issue%20Letter%20Catalog/Issue.htm .

    2. Issue letters address subjects that generate continuing interest from members of congress. These letters cover topics such as the complexity of tax forms, competitive sourcing, frivolous tax arguments, IRS structure, outsourcing return preparation, tax preparation software, referrals to Treasury, and others as they are developed and approved.

    3. Use these sample letters as guides to preparing correspondence.  Pay attention to the date the issue letter was created.  If it is old, verify the technical advice before using the information.

    4. Governmental Liaisons should document all responses using Issue Letters on the Congressional Affairs Program Contact Database. See IRM 11.5.2.10.

  9. Executive Control Management System

    1. I-TRAK is used by Legislative Affairs to control incoming correspondence. It includes inquiries that address non-tax related, broad policy, and procedures that are assigned to the National Headquarters Congressional Correspondence Branch.

    2. Timeframes for Congressional Correspondence assigned by the Congressional Correspondence and Quality Review Branch are as follows:

      1. A response to congressional correspondence must reach Legislative Affairs for review within 15 days of receipt and control into I-TRAK.

      2. If the letter cannot be ready for review within 15 days, an interim contact must be made with the congressional office by telephone or letter.

      3. The response must be received in the congressional office within 20 days of its assignment.

    3. Governmental Liaisons should document all responses to I-TRAK inquiries on the Congressional Affairs Program Contact Database. See IRM 11.5.2.10.

11.5.2.7.6  (03-01-2006)
E-Mail/Fax Inquiries

  1. Many congressional offices prefer to receive information via E-mail or by fax. Examples of items that could be sent in this manner include attachments to the Congressional Communiques, the Congressional Update Newsletter, and responses to technical inquiries.

  2. Correspondence that involves a specific tax case, taxpayer, or is account related CANNOT BE SENT TO A CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE VIA E-MAIL . This correspondence must be sent through the mail or by fax. This includes any responses to technical inquiries that may contain taxpayer information.

  3. Governmental Liaisons should document all E-mail and fax communications on the Congressional Affairs Program Contact Database. See IRM 11.5.2.10.

11.5.2.7.7  (03-01-2006)
Conference Calls

  1. Conference calls may be a useful and efficient method of communicating IRS messages to congressional offices.

  2. They can be used in lieu of face-to-face meetings as a money-saving measure for both the IRS and the congressional offices.

  3. They are also useful for answering questions from congressional offices regarding general IRS programs, conveying filing season messages, etc.

  4. All participants should be informed that no specific taxpayer, account or case can be discussed on a conference call. If a congressional representative or staffer wants to discuss a specific situation, the Governmental Liaison will arrange this at another time with that congressional staffer.

  5. Governmental Liaisons should document all conference calls on the Congressional Affairs Program Contact Database. See IRM 11.5.2.10.

11.5.2.7.8  (03-01-2006)
Congressional Affairs Program IRS Web Site

  1. The Congressional Affairs Program IRS Web site is being developed as a resource for congressional offices. The Web site will allow congressional offices to access some of the information that is currently on the IRS Intranet (internal use only).

  2. Congressional representatives/staffers will have access to an IRS Internet site to find timely and pertinent IRS information such as:

    1. Commissioner’s Testimony before Congressional committees,

    2. IRS press releases, fact sheets and notices,

    3. Congressional Update Newsletter (current and past issues),

    4. Frequently Asked Questions, and

    5. IRS contact information including the Local Taxpayer Advocate office addresses and phone numbers.

  3. Legislative Affairs is responsible for maintaining the Web site. Feedback, comments, and suggestions regarding the site can be directed to the Congressional Affairs Program Council.

11.5.2.7.9  (03-01-2006)
Guide for Congressional Offices

  1. Publication 04323, An Overview of the Internal Revenue Service for Congressional Staff, replaces Publication 1273.

  2. The publication is a tool that can be used by Governmental Liaisons and Local Taxpayer Advocates to acquaint congressional staffers with the IRS organizational structure and how to access IRS information and publications.

11.5.2.8  (03-01-2006)
Coordination with Taxpayer Advocate Service

  1. The Local Taxpayer Advocate and the Governmental Liaison are co-coordinators of the local Congressional Affairs Program. The Local Taxpayer Advocate is responsible for all tax account related issues, primarily constituent casework and advocacy. The Governmental Liaison has responsibility for communicating IRS policy and procedures. The Governmental Liaison also responds to any non tax-account related inquiries.

  2. Both the Governmental Liaison and the Local Taxpayer Advocate will coordinate congressional visits and outreach activities, and will host congressional staff liaison meetings. Congressional visits may be made separately depending on the nature of the visit, but should be jointly coordinated.

  3. TAMIS is used by the Taxpayer Advocate Service to record, control, and process Taxpayer Advocate Service taxpayer cases and GL non-tax account related cases. It is also used to capture and analyze core tax issues, laws, policies and internal IRS functional processes that are the sources of significant taxpayer hardship and other critical problems.

    1. All congressional inquiries should be controlled on TAMIS (Taxpayer Advocate Management Information System) through the Local Taxpayer Advocate’s Office, including non-tax account related inquiries worked by Governmental Liaisons. (Exception: General phone or E-mail inquiries received from a congressional office which can be answered while on the line or immediately on E-mail do not have to be controlled).

    2. TAMIS records and tracks TAS activity and performance in carrying out its statutory role of assisting taxpayers experiencing problems and hardships with the IRS. TAMIS is a critical data source for the National Taxpayer Advocate’s Annual Report to Congress, for internal feedback reporting to the operating divisions and other functional areas and for proposing remedies to correct and cure inequitable tax legislation and internal IRS systemic processes that negatively impact the taxpaying public.

    3. For more information on TAMIS as it relates to the Congressional Affairs Program, refer to IRM 13.1.8, Taxpayer Advocate Service.

11.5.2.9  (03-01-2006)
Coordination with Other Operating Divisions/Functions

  1. Governmental Liaisons are the single point of contact with the congressional staffs for the local Operating Divisions/Functions (ODs/FDs), except on account-related issues. The most effective way to achieve a successful level of support for the Congressional Affairs Program is for the Governmental Liaisons to establish linkages with the ODs/FDs.

  2. GLs will coordinate with ODs/FDs to communicate and market their local initiatives with local congressional offices (i.e. Tax Tour, VITA, etc.). Coordination is enhanced through timely and continuous contact with OD/FD representatives.

  3. It is critical that Governmental Liaisons develop and maintain good relationships with all Operating Divisions, Counsel, Appeals, and the Local Taxpayer Advocate. Often, local expertise within these business segments will provide the answers for timely and accurate responses to congressional inquiries. It may be useful to provide Document 12188, Office of Governmental Liaison, to the OD/FDs as a way to introduce the local GL and provide a description of GL roles and responsibilities.

  4. Governmental Liaisons should share any items of interest with local Operating and Functional Divisions (OD/FD). Doing so will assist OD/FDs in identifying and addressing sensitive issues and concerns, and will also enhance working relationships between OD/FDs and Governmental Liaisons.

  5. GLs should implement the following actions relating to the Operating and Functional Divisions:

    Action Result
    Market the Congressional Affairs Program to Operating and Functional Divisions with emphasis on single point of contact with congressional offices. Adds value and establishes expertise and knowledge to Governmental Liaison within ODs/FDs.
    Develop local subject matter experts from within the Operating and Functional Divisions. Establishes assistance in issue development and congressional correspondence responses.
    Provide feedback on regular basis to Operating and Functional Divisions on congressional visits or contacts. Enhances relationships with ODs/FDs by providing timely information on issues related to their functions. Adds value to ODs/FDs and promotes the single point of contact emphasis by sharing information

11.5.2.9.1  (03-01-2006)
Stakeholder Relationship Management Local Council (SRMLC)

  1. SRMLCs focus on operational issues and ensure key IRS messages, quality products and events are consistently conveyed to a cross-functional/multi-state external stakeholder audience, including the congressional delegation.

  2. The SRLMC was established to create a forum for local representatives from designated Operating Divisions, the Local Taxpayer Advocate, Counsel, Appeals, and the Governmental Liaison to discuss current goals and objectives.

  3. The SRMLC can also be used to respond to issues that require a multi-functional approach. Examples are: disaster assistance, compliance initiatives, EITC outreach, and filing season readiness.

  4. Inviting staff to SRMLC meetings is one way to enhance outreach to the state’s congressional delegation. This would be especially useful if the SRMLC has endorsed a coordinated initiative to address a local issue where, for example, a task group will travel to local communities. Inviting the staff member(s) whose district(s) will be affected by the coordinated initiative could be the best way to inform the staff member(s) of the purpose and objective of the initiative. The congressional staffer might, in turn, help publicize or support the IRS initiative through their congressional newsletter or web site.

11.5.2.9.2  (03-01-2006)
Operating Division/Functional Division Memoranda of Understanding (MOU)

  1. Congressional offices may contact the Governmental Liaison for technical information. These requests can be far reaching and frequently require technical expertise outside the knowledge of the Governmental Liaison. Most require written responses to technical questions regarding tax law, IRS administrative procedures, or IRS policies. Often, the Governmental Liaison must solicit the expertise of the Operating Divisions for help and support in responding to these inquiries.

  2. Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) have been signed by SBSE and W & I that reflect the commitment of these ODs to provide support in responding to congressional inquiries. The MOUs also outline the Governmental Liaison’s responsibility for assisting SB/SE and W & I. The MOUs can be viewed on the Legislative Affairs Web site at http://www.hq.irs.gov/la/BranchB/CAP/Index.htm.

    1. The MOU with the Small Business/Small Employed Operating Division requires GLs to take the following actions:

      1. Coordinate with SB/SE the need for technical guidance. The GL will provide a case file with all of the inquiry information. Provide the final response to all congressional inquiries to the congressional offices.

      2. Regularly inform the local SB/SE managers of all significant Congressional activities and inquires.

      3. Attempt to work all procedural issues/problems at the local level.

      4. Forward all requests for program results or statistics to Legislative Affairs. The responses will be coordinated with SB/SE Communications and Liaison.

      5. Consult with SB/SE on identifying the key SB/SE messages and other local issues of interest to the congressional offices. Timely distribute the key SB/SE messages utilizing the appropriate communication tool.

      6. Provide congressional visit reports and other informational reports on concerns, interest or trends to SB/SE on a timely basis. Provide any feedback or follow-up actions to SB/SE and forward the responses to the congressional staffs.

      7. Contact SB/SE before local congressional visits to discuss program information and other topics that are of interest to the congressional offices. If appropriate, request SB/SE to accompany them on local congressional visits. Provide advanced notice and coordinate the issues when SB/SE participation for a Congressional visit is needed. Contact the appropriate AWSS or Senior Representative for assistance with logistical needs related to meetings.

      8. Provide SB/SE local congressional liaison meeting information such as time, date, location, speaker or topic requests and other needs. Determine the length of time of SB/SE’s presentation and forward that to SB/SE. GLs will provide the number of participants and secure handouts in advance for putting packets together. Provide issue analysis to SB/SE for use in developing the local congressional liaison SB/SE presentation topics.

      9. Provide any feedback from congressional staffs on SB/SE programs or issues to SB/SE.

    2. The MOU with the Wage & Investment Operating Division requires GLs to take the following actions:

      1. Research to ensure a technical referral is appropriate for W & I assistance. Provide preliminary research and case file with all of the inquiry information. Provide format for response and appropriate contact information for questions and response from W & I. Forward E-mail inquiries to W & I Headquarters in Atlanta (See W & I MOU Attachment for E-mail and mail address(es). Coordinate final response with the customer who made the inquiry.

      2. Provide local W & I Communications and Liaison quarterly reports on local congressional concerns, interests or trends relevant to W & I operation.

      3. Share with local W & I Communications and Liaison any other significant local congressional activities that might be of interest to W & I.

      4. Deliver W & I key messages to local congressional offices in a timely manner. Provide any feedback or follow-up actions to local W & I Communications and Liaison office within ten workdays of receipt. The GL will provide responses received from follow-up actions to appropriate congressional offices within five workdays of receipt.

      5. Utilize the W & I web site for up-to-date message information prior to requesting additional information from W & I Communication and Liaison local contacts.

      6. Provide necessary support to local outreach efforts by working with W & I SPEC to enlist congressional support and involvement as appropriate.

      7. Contact local W & I Communications and Liaison prior to congressional visits to discuss W & I program information and other topics that may be of interest to the congressional offices.

      8. Coordinate with local W & I Communications and Liaison when participation of W & I is required for a congressional visit. Two weeks advance notice should be provided. Notify W & I of any known issues at least two weeks in advance so that appropriate presentations can be developed. Provide to local W & I Communications and Liaison, meeting information including: time, date, location, speaker, topic requests, presentation length, format, and number of participants. Coordinate handouts for participants. Contact the appropriate AWSS or Senior Representative for assistance with logistical needs related to meetings.

      9. Provide timely notice to the appropriate W & I Communications and Liaison Campus office for W & I Campus visits.

      10. Provide any feedback regarding W & I presentations, programs or issues within 30 days of the meeting.

      11. Provide information to local congressional offices on the availability of taxpayer services provided by W & I.

      12. Share W & I policy changes with local congressional offices as appropriate.

      13. Advise local W & I Communications and Liaison of any feedback, questions or issues that are raised relative to local W & I services.

11.5.2.9.3  (03-01-2006)
IRS Crisis and Disaster Response

  1. Certain situations require Governmental Liaisons to inform local congressional offices of an IRS response to a crisis or disaster. Governmental Liaisons must work closely with Operating and Functional Divisions to convey important messages through the Crisis Communication Plan and the Disaster Assistance and Relief Program.

    1. Crisis Communication Plan

      1. The Crisis Communication Plan is administered by the Communication & Liaison Division (C&L). Its purpose is to establish a coordinated process for communicating IRS efforts to address a specific crisis.

      2. The plan requires the Governmental Liaison to communicate the IRS message to the local congressional delegation through prepared communications from C&L Field Media Relations Specialists.

      3. Because timing is critical, information will generally be distributed to appropriate congressional offices via phone, fax, or E-mail.

      4. Governmental Liaisons should become familiar with the Crisis Communication Plan to understand the GL role in achieving Service objectives. Contact the designated Field Media Relations Specialist for additional advice and assistance.

    2. Disaster Assistance and Relief Program

      1. This strategic plan for responding to local or regional disasters is administered by SB/SE. There are a wide range of relief options for use in responding to disasters and terrorist or military attacks. The severity of the disaster and proximity of tax deadlines are the primary factors in determining the level of relief that will be provided.

      2. When disasters occur, it is essential for the IRS to provide timely, accurate information to Congress on the steps being taken to assist victims with their tax affairs.

      3. Contacts with congressional offices on Capitol Hill will typically be handled by Headquarters Legislative Affairs, while contacts with local congressional offices will typically be handled by Governmental Liaisons.

      4. Specific steps to be taken by Governmental Liaisons to carry out their responsibilities under the plan can be found in IRM 25.16.6.4(3), Special Topics, Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief, Communications and Liaison. It is recommended that the GL become familiar with the Disaster Assistance and Relief Programs and the State Coordinators.

11.5.2.9.4  (03-01-2006)
Office Closures

  1. The strategic decision by the Service to close, relocate, or change hours of operation of a local IRS office must be shared as soon as possible with the appropriate congressional delegation. The purpose of this action is to fully inform the delegation of the decision as well as to advise them of where and how citizens of the impacted community can find assistance. This often is a very sensitive issue and will likely result in congressional interest. Because office closures, relocations, or changes in hours may attract Congressional attention, the GL must inform the Legislative Affairs office as well.

11.5.2.9.5  (03-01-2006)
Frivolous Filers

  1. Congressional offices may forward constituent correspondence that contains frivolous statements or statements that challenge the constitutionality of the income tax. These types of correspondence do require a response from the Service. After reading the correspondence to ensure it does not contain a Freedom of Information Act request, it is not an account inquiry, or it is not related to an open case in a local office, the GL should prepare a reply.

  2. To assist the GL in responding to these types of correspondence, model letters have been drafted and can be found on the Communication and Liaison Legislative Affairs Web site under the section titled, Writing to Congress.

  3. If the model letters do not fully address the frivolous or constitutional tax arguments, the congressional correspondence can be forwarded to the Congressional Correspondence Branch, in care of Mary Dash at the following address:

    1111 Constitution Ave., N.W.

    CL:LA, Room 3244

    Washington, DC 20224

    Fax: 202-622-4733 or 3048

11.5.2.10  (03-01-2006)
Congressional Affairs Program Contact Database

  1. The Congressional Affairs Program contact database is used by both Governmental Liaisons and Legislative Affairs staff to track congressional contacts. Local Taxpayer Advocates, although part of the Congressional Affairs Program, do not have access to the system. TAMIS is used by the Taxpayer Advocate Service to record, control, and process Taxpayer Advocate Service taxpayer cases and GL non-tax account related cases. The Congressional Affairs Program database allows Governmental Liaisons and Legislative Affairs staff to share information about congressional inquiries and to track the numbers of contacts made. Visits to Capitol Hill and local congressional offices are also recorded on this database.

  2. The database is a Microsoft Access application housed on a shared network drive. The database catalogues congressional requests for information and captures balanced measures data. It produces administrative reports and allows Governmental Liaisons to research congressional issues.

  3. The Congressional Affairs Program contact database provides program information. It is not a performance tool. Due to security and other considerations, managers should not rely on the database for employee evaluations.

  4. The Congressional Affairs Program contact database is not a secure database; therefore Federal return and return information are not to be recorded in this database.

  5. The retention period for information from the database is 2 years, to coincide with each new Congress.

11.5.2.10.1  (03-01-2006)
Congressional Affairs Program Database Users Group

  1. The Congressional Affairs Program Database Users Group (DBUG) provides a feedback mechanism for Governmental Liaison in the field concerning the use and maintenance of the database. Suggestions for changes or issues should be elevated to the Legislative Affairs contact for Congressional Affairs Program Database Users Group.

11.5.2.10.2  (03-01-2006)
Recording a Contact

  1. Most incoming and outgoing contacts with congressional representatives or their staffs are recorded on the database. Inquiries, questions, issues, and visits are generally recorded. For example, a congressional office contacts the GL concerning withdrawals from a 401(k) account. The Governmental Liaison has the issue researched and replies to the congressional office. Responses to congressional letters are recorded on TAMIS. A summary of the issue and resolution is recorded on the Congressional Affairs Program contact database. All contacts are to be entered onto the database within five working days of the opening/received date for the contact. For cases that are not closed, make sure that the "Closed Indicator" is empty (e.g. not checked).

  2. Simple or non-tax account related phone or E-mail inquiries received from a congressional office and immediately answered while on the telephone or by E-mail are not recorded. For example: the congressional office telephones the Governmental Liaison to follow up on or clarify a previous contact. This contact does not need to be recorded.

  3. Governmental Liaisons and Legislative Affairs staff must use judgment in deciding what to record as a contact. One entry, noting the inquiry and resolution, is recorded per contact. Hot or sensitive issues should be electronically or telephonically transmitted to Legislative Affairs, even though they are recorded on the database. Taxpayer return and return information should not be recorded on the database.

  4. The Subject input field is limited to 100 characters, and the Summary input field is limited to 255. This limitation requires users to paraphrase, capturing only the key words and ideas. The use of key words allows database researchers to find related cases using a "key word" search.

11.5.2.10.3  (03-01-2006)
Features

  1. Input

    1. The input feature is used by Governmental Liaisons and Legislative Affairs staff to record contact information. The following information should be recorded on the database: the congressional office, the method of communication, the Governmental Liaison or Legislative Affairs staff making the contact, a brief issue summary, and the resolution of the issue.

    2. The user can also complete the Taxpayer Advocate Management Information System (TAMIS) input form. The TAMIS form button provides the user with a partially completed form using the information from the Input screen. The user completes the remaining fields and prints the form. The TAMIS input form cannot be saved on the Congressional Affairs Program contact database due to disclosure concerns.

    3. The input form classifies contacts by type. The user must choose a type based on the following definitions:

      1. Outbound IRS Corporate is used when information such as Legislative Affairs Communiques, national press releases, local press releases, or topic-specific toolkits/key messages are shared with all congressional offices in the state delegation.

      2. Outbound IRS Inquiry/Request includes a request for congressional office assistance or feedback:

        • Requesting congratulatory letters for retirees,

        • Requesting participation in a local event such as Public Service Recognition Week, or a Practitioner Forum, etc.,

        • Requesting general assistance or feedback from the congressional office.

      3. Outbound Local Interest contacts include those in which information is sent to a specific congressional office based on an interest they have in the topic, not in response to any specific incoming letter or call. It differs from "Outbound Corporate" because the information is not sent to all offices. The sources can include national or local press releases and topic specific toolkits/key messages.

      4. Field Visitation should be used for recording CAP Coordinator(s) field visits to local or DC offices, filing season visits, or CAP conference visits.

      5. Meeting is used to record CAP Coordinator(s) meetings that include one or more Congressional offices and/or one or more Operating or Functional Divisions. Meetings include:

        • Congressional liaison meetings with multi-functional topics,

        • TAS caseworker technical updates,

        • IRS and/or other agency outreach/forum with multi-functional topics,

        • Function-specific topic meetings (e.g., Taxpayer Assistance Center closing or workforce issue).

    4. Note: the default setting on new contacts is "closed" . Remove the closed indicator if the case is still open.

    5. Contacts created in the Input feature can be updated, changed, or deleted using the Contact Management feature.

  2. Reports

    1. Legislative Affairs staff, Area Managers, and Governmental Liaisons use the reports feature. Legislative Affairs uses reports to identify trends or issues, research, and for tracking operating/functional division key messages. Area Managers use reports to obtain balanced measures information. Governmental Liaisons use reports to manage inventory, and to research, identify, and track issues.

    2. Examples: prior to conducting a visit to a local congressional office, the Governmental Liaison would prepare a report of all the contacts made to that congressional representative’s office for the year. The report assists the Governmental Liaison in identifying outstanding issues or areas of assistance to the congressional representative or staff. A Governmental Liaison can also research to identify the actions other Governmental Liaisons completed on a specific issue. This type of research saves time and duplication of effort.

  3. Maintenance

    1. The maintenance feature allows users to update data on Members of Congress and Governmental Liaisons. Governmental Liaisons are responsible for updating/changing contact information for the congressional offices assigned to them.

    2. For example: a Governmental Liaison would change a congressional representative’s contact information when an election results in a change. Changes should also be made when a Governmental Liaison is temporarily or permanently assigned to a different geographical area. When the Governmental Liaison uses the feature "Repeat this contact for all congressional offices" , the contact is repeated for all of the congressional offices linked to that Governmental Liaison.

    3. Corrections, changes, and closures to cases are also made using the maintenance feature.

  4. Contact Management

    1. Contacts may be updated, changed, or deleted using the contact management feature.

    2. Each contact record includes a "closed" indicator. This feature can be used to help Governmental Liaisons manage inventory. The Contact Management feature allows users to generate a list of contacts that have not been marked as closed.

    3. The TAMIS Input Form button will allow a form to be generated at any time. "TAMIS TEST" will allow a user to save the completed form for future reference.

11.5.2.10.4  (03-01-2006)
Congressional Affairs Program Contact Database User’s Guide

  1. Specific information on using the features of the Congressional Affairs Program Contact Database is contained in the Congressional Affairs Program Contact Database User’s Guide. This guide is developed and maintained by the Congressional Affairs Program Users Group and can be found on the Intranet at http://www.hq.irs.gov/la/BranchB/CAP/Index.htm.

11.5.2.11  (03-01-2006)
Congressional Affairs Program (CAP) Conference

  1. Purposes

    1. To introduce Governmental Liaisons and Local Taxpayer Advocates to a new Congress.

    2. To deliver and discuss the National Taxpayer Advocate’s Annual Report to Congress

  2. Goals

    1. Develop an understanding of the legislative process and the Congressional committees of interest to the IRS.

    2. Encourage ongoing, positive working relationships with Members of Congress and their staffs.

    3. Generate an understanding of and support for agency proposals and programs.

  3. Frequency

    1. CAP Conferences are held every other year, at the start of each new Congress, provided funding is available.

    2. Local Taxpayer Advocates may participate without the Governmental Liaisons in off-year events. These events are tied to the annual delivery of the National Taxpayer Advocate’s Annual Report to Congress and required Taxpayer Advocate Service training issues.

  4. Capitol Hill Visits

    1. Visits to Capitol Hill Congressional offices are included in the CAP conference. Governmental Liaisons should work in cooperation with Local Taxpayer Advocates to schedule appointments with their delegation(s).

    2. Governmental Liaisons should be prepared to discuss local issues that may be of interest to members and their staff. A Governmental Liaison might want to discuss outreach efforts such as disaster relief, industry specific aid, IRS office consolidations, office assistance, and hours. Refer to IRM 1.2.1.2.6 (Policy Statement P-1–24) and IRM 1.2.1.2.8(Policy Statement P-1-26), Policies of the Internal Revenue Service, for limitations on the substance, extent, and the manner of congressional communications.

11.5.2.12  (03-01-2006)
Coordination with Other External Stakeholders

11.5.2.12.1  (03-01-2006)
State Legislative Bodies

  1. Interactions with State officials on issues involving technical or legislative assistance should be limited. Governmental Liaisons should do no more than facilitate contact with the appropriate IRS office to comment on the proposed legislation.

  2. Involvement should be limited to legislation that affects the Service or federal tax administration.

  3. Requests for assistance should be cleared through:

    1. Area Manager,

    2. Appropriate Operating Division,

    3. Legislative Affairs and

    4. Headquarters Governmental Liaison & Disclosure.

  4. Employees appearing on behalf of the Service before a state legislative body must obtain authorization from the Deputy Director, Office of Governmental Liaison and Disclosure. For more information on testimony authorization, refer to IRM 11.3.35, Requests and Demands or Testimony and Production of Documents.

11.5.2.12.2  (03-01-2006)
State and Federal Agencies

  1. Governmental Liaisons may encounter situations where coordination with state and other federal agencies can enhance their interactions with congressional offices. For instance, when planning liaison meetings with the local congressional staff, consideration should be given to inviting state tax officials and other federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the Small Business Administration, or any other federal agency of interest to the congressional office.

  2. Congressional Offices may contact Governmental Liaisons regarding constituent inquiries that involve other federal, state, or local agencies. Governmental Liaisons are encouraged to provide linkages to better assist the congressional offices. For example, a staff member may contact a Governmental Liaison on an issue that is subsequently determined to be better resolved by the state tax authority. The Governmental Liaison could use their state contacts to provide assistance.

11.5.2.12.3  (03-01-2006)
Federal Executive Boards/Associations

  1. Other Governmental Liaisons contacts are useful in providing assistance to Congressional offices. For example: coordinating a congressional expo sponsored by the Federal Executive Boards (FEB) on emergency preparedness.


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