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WIPP Guide to Making Your Voice Heard in Congress and Federal Agencies

Monday, April 20, 2015  
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WIPP Guide to Making Your Voice Heard in Congress and Federal Agencies

This guide was created to help WIPP members communicate with elected officials and federal agencies. It looks at two easy ways to make your voice officially heard: written testimony to Congress and written comments on regulations.

IMPORTANT: Both written testimony and regulatory comments are publicly posted on the Internet. Companies should only submit testimony/comments with the intention that the information may become public and shared. 

Submitting Written Testimony: It is an honor to be asked to testify before Congress. Serving as a witness provides an opportunity to directly affect decisions made by Congress. But you can have an impact even if you weren’t asked to testify. After every hearing, Congress holds open the record for written submissions for a period of one to two weeks. Any written material sent to the Clerk of the Committee is on the record and part of the official proceedings. 

Why is that important? Because you are helping build a record on the issue. Federal agencies rely on testimony to gauge the urgency of the changes being requested.  In addition, the legal system looks at Congressional intent when reviewing the law, depending on the recorded testimony.

To take the mystery out of the process, take a look at testimony on House and Senate Committee websites.  Most are posted and you can see the format and style of writing.


Here’s the process and format of your testimony:

1.  Let the Committee know to which hearing you are submitting written testimony.  Identify by using a cover sheet stating: “Testimony prepared by (your name )”; title of the hearing (can find on the Committee website); date of the hearing.

2.  First paragraph – “I am submitting testimony today to express my support/opposition to…” Clearly and politely raise the issue you wish to discuss that falls under the purview of the hearing (i.e. Do NOT send testimony about contracting to a tax hearing, unless it is about a tax concern specifically facing contractors.)

3.  Paragraph 2 – About you and your company and why you are commenting on this subject.

4. First Section – Example of your experience that has led you to submit the testimony.  “My experience with contracting has led me to submit changes that should be put in place to better utilize small businesses.”

5. Second Section – Recommendations on how to fix the problem and any actions you think Congress should take. 

6.  Last paragraph:  “Thank you for taking my views into consideration as you deliberate on (issue that needs fixing, e.g. levels of funding of a government program.)


Commenting on Proposed Regulation: In much the same way, you can communicate with agencies through written comments about proposed regulations.  The federal agency process requires public comment periods of 30, 60 and sometimes 90 days. This is an opportunity for businesses to submit their comments about how they may be affected by a regulation. Comments are usually solicited from the public after issuing a proposed rule. 

While still an official communication, the regulatory comment process is not as formal as submitting testimony. Often, comments directly respond to only sections of proposed regulation. Comments can be both positive (in support of an agency’s proposals) and negative (recommending different methods of implementation). Remember, agencies are not inventing new regulations, but instead proposing changes required by legislation passed by Congress.


How to submit comments on proposed regulations:

1.  Identify the regulation to comment on. You can review open regulations or find a specific proposed regulations in the federal register.

2.  Click on the “Submit a Formal Comment” button or submit comments after finding the regulation on

3. Comments submitted by individual companies range from formal documents prepared as letters and addressed to relevant agency personnel to a few sentences sharing agreement or disagreement with a particular section of a proposed rule. You can look at past comments for examples. 

More tips on submitting comments are available from 


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