Most public agencies utilize the services of their on-staff employees to conduct the vast majority of their lobbying activities. This is the method that the law and its L-5 reporting requirements for public agencies appear to contemplate.

However, it is becoming more common for state and local agencies to contract with lobbyists from the private sector to handle some or all of their lobbying. When private sector lobbyists are retained, the agency continues to file quarterly L-5 reports when reportable lobbying expenses have been made or incurred. In addition, the private sector (non-public employee) lobbyist must register and report under RCW 42.17A.600 and .615. This private sector lobbyist will register on an L-1 form and file a monthly L-2 report.

Agencies that hire private sector lobbyists should also keep in mind that they remain subject to the restrictions on the uses to which public lobbying dollars may be put. Agencies may not do indirectly -- i.e., through an outside lobbyist -- what they are not permitted to do directly. See "Limits on Publicly Funded Lobbying." 

A government agency paying a monthly retainer to a contract lobbyist must file the quarterly report.