Federal Legislative Process

Each year the University of Montana prepares a list of interests and priorities to submit to the Congressional delegation. This list is first provided, for informational purposes, to the Board of Regents, usually in January, and transmitted to the Montana delegation shortly thereafter.

In order to prepare materials for submission in January, we need to initiate the process. Before deciding to suggest an initiative, make sure the request fits into one of the categories below to ensure it has a reasonable chance of being included in the University packet.  Typically, the University will only include 5-10 requests, so the process is rather selective.

While earmarks are no longer permitted, there are several categories of interests that we identify and consider for inclusion in next year’s requests:

Programs/Accounts of Importance 

Programs of importance include formula grants, accounts where your department has had particular success or on-going support, or programs that may be a particular target for future funding.  Examples  include the USDA McIntire-Stennis program, which funds Colleges of Forestry on a formula basis, and the EPSCoR/IDeA programs, which are designated to assist in building research infrastructure in state that receive limited federal research funding. In this budget environment, it is important to protect funding for these programs.

Targeted Programs

The University participates in several programs that are more targeted and that require ongoing federal support, such as the Wildland Fire Science Program, which supports a number of fire research and support activities at the University, and the Defense Critical Languages Program.  Previous Appropriations reports, for example, include language on both of these. The Senate Interior report notes, “The Forest Service is also encouraged to continue its Wildland Fire Science Partnership.” The Senate Defense report notes, “The Committee recognizes that, in partnership with universities across the country, the Defense Language and National Security Education Office provides critical training for service members and government officials in a number of languages and strategic cultures, including those of the Arab world, Afghanistan, China, and Iran. The Committee encourages the Department of Defense to continue placing a high priority on these programs to ensure warfighters receive the language and culture training needed to complete their missions effectively."

Programs/Activities of Interest

Programs of interest do not have any current funding but a specific account or program is of significant interest.  An example might be an upcoming NASA mission where some particular emphasis would help the University, or some tweaking on an anticipated program related to climate change. The effort would be to direct emphasis to the types of activities that would be most relevant to the University of Montana.

High Priority 

High priority projects have been determined to be activities of importance to the University and typically do not have any current target or known opportunity. 

UM Process

The Preliminary Request Form is designed to gather initial information without requiring a lengthy draft. The form should be sent through your Chair to your Dean/Director of your unit head.   The Dean, Provost, and Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship will meet to determine the best requests to go forward. 

Ultimately, the President, Provost, and Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship will discuss the requests with our contacts in Washington and the legislative staff to determine the requests that will be included in the University packet. If your request is selected, assistance will be provided as needed to prepare a 1-2 page request. Keep in mind that:

  • UM (or other institutions) cannot be specifically named in the request.
  • Funds are not available for construction or innovation.
  • Requests must be tied to a federal program, appropriations account, or activity.
  • The purpose of most requests will be to secure a specified level of funding for a program or activity, to guide a program or activity in a particular direction, or to provide general policy recommendations in an area.
  • Language can be included in authorization bills as well as appropriations bills.

Should you have any questions about the feasibility of an idea, the process, or how to proceed, please do not hesitate to contact vpr@umontana.edu.