Date of Award
Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Most Georgia state agencies have full-time employees whose duties include lobbying General Assembly members on behalf of the agency. These employees act as liaisons between the agencies and the state elected officials and perform duties such as constituent services, providing information to legislators, and advice and expertise on issues affecting their agency. Periodically, the media has written articles questioning whether taxpayers’ funds should be used to pay the salaries of these “lobbyists.” This practice has come under fire as being a questionable or wasteful use of taxpayers’ monies. This study examines the primary duties of agency lobbyists and asks legislators, via a questionnaire, if they support the use of state funds for agency lobbyists. The questionnaire also compares their perceptions of public and private lobbyists. Lobbyists were also interviewed to ascertain their view of lobbying in Georgia, and how the state agency lobbyists fit into the system and culture at the Georgia State Capitol.
A survey was sent to all 236 Georgia General Assembly members, and 79 were completed and returned for a response rate of 33 percent. The findings show that there is a lack of strong sentiment on this subject. The respondents were almost evenly split on the question of whether state funds should be used to pay the salaries of agency employees who lobby the legislature. Also, in most cases, the majority of the respondents chose the moderate answer which was provided when asked about their contacts with public lobbyists and their perceptions of their characteristics.
However, there is strong evidence that lobbyists are considered a vital part of the legislative process and the duties they perform are valued. In particular, agency lobbyists are considered to be “part of the team” and are judged differently from other lobbyists. Due to the fact that the Georgia General Assembly has few paid staffers, these lobbyists fulfill the needs of legislators in providing information, constituent services, expertise and advice. Georgia taxpayers’ monies are not being wasted or spent unwisely for the services that are provided by these agency liaisons.