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How To Sign-up For a CWW Local Visit
Local Visit Logistics


Scheduling a Local Visit
Work Together
Confirm Your Visit Date
Things To Remember


Select A Visit Day
Who To Visit
Create a Schedule
Contact Offices
Travel Arrangements
Maps, Metro, and Taxi
Help From Your Institution
Tips and Tricks


Be Prepared
The Message
Your Individual Message
Before You Leave the Office


Follow-up letter



Staff on Capitol Hill, the White House, and Congress often lament that they do not hear enough from scientists and researchers who depend on federally funded research on the importance of science and their research to the Nation. The challenge is to make communicating with Washington a part of every scientist’s professional and academic career. The American Astronomical Society rises to the challenge by starting a new initiative called Communicating With Washington.

The Council of the AAS has allocated funds to enable AAS members to participate in Communicating With Washington. As a volunteer you will learn how to most effectively communicate with policy makers and travel to Washington, DC to meet with policy makers. The goal is to have one or two astronomers visit Washington every week that Congress is in session and to visit every Congressional office, the Congressional science committee offices, and the White House at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) over the life of the program.

The message will be to educate and ask for support for the recommended priorities of the current and previous astronomical decadal surveys for astronomy and astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics released by the National Research Council.


By agreeing to volunteer for the program and accepting reimbursement from AAS, you agree that:

  • I have read and understand the Instruction Manual concerning the Communicating With Washington program.
  • I am to represent the American Astronomical Society and the astronomical community in the most professional manner possible.
  • I agree to fully present the unifying message of supporting federal funding for science in general, for the astronomical sciences (defined broadly), and for the priorities and recommendations of the astronomical decadal surveys.
  • I am NOT to communicate remarks that are contrary to the statements of the American Astronomical Society, Divisions of AAS, or the recommendations of the astronomical decadal surveys.
  • I understand that I am required to follow the AAS Public Policy Travel Guidelines.
  • I understand that before receiving reimbursement, I am to fill out the Follow-Up Survey after the completion of my visits and after sending follow-up letters.
  • I understand that if I am found to have violated AAS policy or these terms and conditions that I forfeit receiving reimbursement or if having already received my reimbursement, I will be required to repay those funds to AAS.


You can volunteer for the program at:

We have to select volunteers who balance the program by location, time of visit, career stage, and experience to meet the goals of the program. Please fill out the questionnaire in order to be considered as a participant. The questionnaire asks for some name and email, as well as five detailed questions.

If you are not selected, you can still use these instructions, but will not be reimbursed for your travel expenses. Please volunteer again when the opportunity is announced. If you would like to visit Washington, you can also look for other funding sources from your university department, local clubs or advocacy groups.

You do not have to travel to Washington to meet with your member of Congress. Schedule a local visit when your member of Congress is back in the state or district. You can find instructions for a local visit at:

For international members: We apologize that we cannot accommodate you. United States policy makers are more readily to meet with their constituents. However, we encourage you to be involved in your country’s debate on support for scientific research. Contact your local astronomical society and ask how you can be involved.


All politics are local. Communicating With Washington will conduct local visits during the summer Congressional recess. Local visits with your member of Congress can have a more profound impact then visiting them at Capitol Hill. A local visit with your member of Congress is when you schedule an appointment with him or her during Congressional recess when they are back in their state. Please consider scheduling a meeting with your member of Congress.

If you try to visit your Congressman or Congresswoman in Washington, DC then you are more likely to meet with a legislative aide. Congress is typically busy with debate, voting, and hearings while on the Hill in Washington. During the days when they are back in their home state they make an effort to connect with their voters. Many have town halls or other opportunities for voters to express concerns, ask questions, or comment on an issue.

Bottom line: When the Congressman or Congresswoman returns to their home state, they are trying to connect with you, want to hear from you, and want your vote.

How To Sign-up For a CWW Local Visit

Sign-up using the CWW sign-up form. The only difference between a regular CWW visit to Washington and a local visit is the day you volunteer to do your visits. CWW is conducting local visits during the summer Congressional recess. Summer Congressional recess is from August 5 to September 6, 2013.

  • If you sign-up during the times of summer recess, then you will asked to stay in your state and district to visit with your Congresspeople.
  • If you prefer doing local visits because of time or travel constraints, please sign-up for CWW during the times of summer recess.
  • Outside of the dates for summer recess, you will do visits in Washington, DC.

Local Visit Logistics

CWW Local Visits follow the same rules and instructions as for Washington, DC visits. The instructions are separated into sections on prior to your visit, during your visit, and following your visit. The only difference in the instructions is prior to your visit.


You must still follow-up and fill out the Survey to be reimbursed. For local visits we can only reimburse you for mileage. Follow the instructions on receipts and submitting your travel expense form. When you receive your travel expense form, clearly indicate the locations you traveled to and from.


Proper planning will result in a successful day of visits. Please read through the instructions on how to setup your visit day. As a participant in the CWW program you assert that you have read and understand the instructions.

Scheduling a Local Visit

The volunteer is responsible for scheduling their own visits. If you need help, please contact the AAS John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow at:

You are encouraged to make your visits during the day or week you signed up for. However, your Congressperson may not be available at that time. If not, you are welcome to schedule a visit or attend a town hall or campaign event whenever it is convenient for you and the Congressperson.

Due to the inexact nature of a local visits, you are requested to visit with at least one Congressperson or local staff. However, please schedule more if you are able.

You can schedule a local visit at any time of the year.  However, CWW will be conducting local visits during the summer recess. Summer recess is from August 5 to September 6, 2013.

To schedule a local visit with your members of Congress:

  1. Find your members of Congress. You have two Senators and at least one Representative. You may have more than one Representative if you live in one district and work in another. You can find your members of Congress with the AAS ZIP-To It (Map Interface) using your state or zip code.
  2. Use the AAS Zip-To-It interface to find the information on district offices. All the information you need is listed.
  3. Otherwise, go to their website to find the contact information of the local offices. Senators will have many local offices to serve the whole state. Representatives will have a least one office within the district or more depending on the size of the district.
  4. Call or email the local office to setup a local visit while the Congressman or Congresswoman is in the state.
  5. Attend a town hall or campaign event. The Congressman or Congresswoman may not be available during an election year summer recess.

Work Together

Working together with other CWW Local Visit participants can increase your access to Congressional offices inside your state or district.

If you are selected to participate in CWW, you are encouraged to work with other participants that have signed-up for visits during Congressional summer recess. To encourage working together, you are given the flexibility of choosing as a group a day to schedule visits.

Confirm Your Visit Date

Reply to confirm your participation and the date of your visit when you are informed of your participation in CWW Local Visits. If you are clearly unable to make the visit on the date you selected, then you may request an alternate date. However, this is to be a last resort as moving your date may not be possible.

Things To Remember

You can get Help From Your Institution for your visits. Also, keep in mind some of the Tips and Tricks for a successful visit.


Proper planning will result in a successful day of visits. Please read through the instructions on how to setup your visit day. As a participant in the CWW program you assert that you have read and understand the instructions.

The volunteer is responsible for scheduling their own visits. If you need help, please contact the AAS John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow at:

Select A Visit Day

When you sign up as a volunteer for CWW you are asked to select a day that you are available to travel to Washington, DC.  CWW is organized to spread out visits throughout the year. Be aware of your proposal deadlines and other complications that may arise when signing up for a date.

Choose a day to visit Congress when both House and Senate will be in session. This will enable you to maximize the number of meetings you can schedule. Be aware that the days of recess House and Senate do not always correspond. There are some days when either are in session and the other is not. However, the Congressional staff are sometimes available on these days and it is possible to schedule a visits. Do not plan a visit on a day when both are not in session.

The official Congressional Calendars can be found at:
House 2013 Congressional Calendar
Senate 2013 Congressional Calendar

Who To Visit

Try to schedule a minimum of 4-5 visits. Create a list of possible offices or people to visit.

  • Visit your members of Congress -- two Senators and the House Representative where you live and where you work, if different from where you live.  Use the AAS Zip-To-It interface.
  • Visit other members of Congress from your state delegation.
  • Visit the science Committee Staff for both Appropriations and Authorization committees and subcommittees. See Table.
    Special Note: Ed Feddeman and Ann Zulkowsky, from the House Science, Space, & Technology Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee have been overwhelmed with members from AAS. Schedule meetings with Feddeman if you are from Texas or Mississippi. Schedule meetings with Zulkowsky if you are from West Virginia or Florida. You can also request meetings if you have something specific to discussion beyond the general message of support for the decadal surveys.
  • Visit with the White House at Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Science and Techonology Policy (OSTP)
    Special Note: OMB and OSTP examiners who work on astronomical issues are very aware of the decadal surveys. They are overwhelmed with members requesting meetings from the AAS. Request meetings ONLY if you have something specific to discuss beyond the general message of support for the decadal surveys.
  • Visit with appropriate personel within the NASA Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters or NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences
Agency Authorizing Committee

Oversight of Depts. & Agencies, provide policy direction, permit new programs, recommend funding

Appropriations Subcommittee

Provide the actual funding for government programs and agencies on an annual basis

Dept. of Energy, Office of Science House Science, Space & Technology, Energy Subcommittee
Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation, Science and Space Subcommittee
House Energy & Water
Senate Energy & Water
NASA and NSF House Science, Space & Technology, Space Subcommittee and Research & Technology Subcommittee
Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation, Science and Space Subcommittee
House Commerce, Justice, & Science
Senate Commerce, Justice, & Science

Create a Schedule

Create a template schedule for your day of visits before contacting offices. Schedule visits for about 30-45 minutes. Keep in mind the time it takes to walk between offices.  Use the Maps of Washington, DC and the Hill to know where office buildings are located. Allow time for lunch or breaks as needed.

TIP #1: To prevent wasting time and excessive traveling between offices follow these tips:

  • Offices for House and Senate are on opposite sides of the Capitol. Schedule visits to have House visits during one block of time, say, the morning, and Senate visits in another block of time, e.g the afternoon.
  • Both the House and Senate have three office buildings each, try to cluster together in time meetings in the same building.
  • Do not schedule visits back-to-back. Give yourself enough time between visits to get to the next appointment on time.


Contact Offices

Start contacting offices four weeks before your scheduled day to visit or as soon as possible. Many offices need time to respond. A phone call is best when you have less than four weeks to schedule. Introduce yourself, where you are from, and the reason for the visit. Suggest the day/time for a meeting according to your schedule.

Visits with OMB or OSTP need at least a week before your scheduled visit because they need you to submit personal information to allow a security risk clearance to be performed. Non-US citizens will need to be accompanied by a US citizen or will have to meet with the OMB examiner outside of their office building.

Many members of Congress have an online form to schedule a meeting. All offices have a scheduler and you can usually find the email address online to contact them directly. Call the office directly, if after a week you have not received a response for your meeting request.

Contact information and links are in the Who to Visit section.

TIP #2: Use the AAS Zip-To-It interface. It has all the information you need to contact the Washington (or district) offices. Office staff are listed, including the scheduler.

TIP #3: Harass the office until you get a response. Be patient, yet firm. Do not be embarrassed to continue to call or email. Remember, they work for you and you have the right to communicate with them. Do NOT wait until the final week to schedule at least one visit.

Travel Arrangements

The volunteer is responsible for booking travel and accommodations. You must adhere to the AAS Public Policy Travel Guidelines. Keep all receipts from your visits including ground transportation such as Metro and taxi.  Traveling cheaply and conserving AAS funds will help enable additional visits. Frugality will help your profession have a greater impact.

You will need one full day for your visit. Plan to arrive the night before the day of your visit and to leave in the evening of the day of your visit. The AAS will pay for an additional night of lodging, if required to facilitate your travel, especially from the west coast.

TIP #4: Do NOT wait until your visit schedule is completely confirmed before making travel arrangements. Offices typically do not know their schedule beyond a week in advance. Congressional offices understand that you are making a special trip to visit them in Washington, DC and will do everything they can to meet with you on the day and time you requested.

Plan your travel to and from each meeting on the day of your visit. Be aware of the impact of rush hour on metro and taxi transit times. You can choose to walk between the Senate and House or to take a taxi. There is a tunnel that leads to each office building on both the House and Senate side, usually at the ‘SB’ or ‘B’ levels. Ask a security guard for help in navigating the Hill office buildings; they are a tremendous resource. There is also a tunnel that connects the House and Senate that goes underneath the Capitol building (complete with several small subways), however it is not regularly available to Hill visitors. The tunnels allow you to walk without having to go through multiple security check points. Each time you enter a House or Senate office building you have to go through a security check point, including an X-ray scan and metal detector.


Below is a recommended list of hotels near the Capitol. You are welcome to use a travel website to book both airfare and hotel to save on costs.

Hyatt Regency Washington
400 New Jersey Avenue, NW
202-737-1234; 888-591-1234

The Liaison Capitol Hill
415 New Jersey Avenue, NW
202-638-1616; 866-246-2203

Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol
550 C Street, SW
202-479-4000; 888-465-4329

Hotel George
15 E Street, NW
202-347-4200; 800-546-7866

Phoenix Park Hotel
520 N. Capitol Street, NW
202-638-6900; 800-824-5419

Washington Court Hotel
525 New Jersey Avenue, NW
202-628-2100; 800-321-3010

Maps, Metro, and Taxi

You may use the Metro or take a taxi between your meetings on Capitol Hill and OMB/OSTP. Do NOT take the Metro to go from one side of the Hill to the other. It is faster to walk or take a taxi cab.


If you decide to use the Metro there are different stops that can be most convenient:

  • Senate office buildings are next to the Union Station Metro stop on the Red Line.
  • House office buildings are next to the Capitol South Metro stop on the Orange and Blue Line.
  • OMB/OSTP offices are at the New Executive Office Building. Use either the Farragut North Metro stop on the Red Line or the Farragut West Metro stop on the Orange and Blue Line.

Getting to NASA Headquarters using Metrorail:

  • Orange Line or Blue Line: To Federal Center SW - Take the escalator to the 3rd Street exit, turn right, walk under the small overpass (1 1/2 blocks) to the intersection of3rd and E Street. NASA HQ is on the right. All visitors must enter through the visitor’s entrance which is located on the West side of the NASA HQ building.
  • Yellow Line or Green Line: To L'Enfant Plaza - Follow signs to the 7th & D St exit. Once on D Street, turn right and walk ½ block to 6th Street. Turn right and walk 1 block to E. Street. Turn left and walk 1 1/2 blocks to 4th Street. NASA Headquarters is across the street on the right.

You can plan your metro trip using the Trip Planner at:

Maps of Washington, DC and the Hill 

Map of OMB and OSTP location

DC Metro Map 

Keep metro receipts for reimbursement.  If you choose to use a taxi, you must ask for a receipt in order to be reimbursed.

Help From Your Institution

You may have to contact your institution’s office for governmental affairs before visiting Washington, DC. They typically request that you keep them informed about your visits. You may want to or be requested to use your institution’s lobbying firm to schedule visits. A lobbying firm can do a good job helping you put together your schedule and contact specific offices. However, the lobbying firm is hired to represent the interests of your institution and may make you to exclusively talk about the interests of the university or facility. Do NOT allow the lobbying firm to dominate over the message of the American Astronomical Society.

TIP #5: Many participants have found their institution to be very helpful. They can do all the work of scheduling meetings. They also know what other offices may be good to visit.


Tips and Tricks To Remember

  • For visits at NASA HQ and OMB you MUST HAVE a photo ID, preferably a driver's license or passport for non-US citizens.
  • Dress professionally, yet comfortably.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes. This is very important since you will do a lot of walking.
  • Bring your business cards and give them to every one you meet.
  • Print out your schedule which includes the location, time, and who you are meeting with so you do not forget where you are going. Your smart phone may not be working that day and internet access is limited.
  • Have fun! 


They want to hear from you. You are the expert and don’t be afraid to talk. However, don’t be condescending. Be honest and admit when you do not know the answer. Answer the question in your follow-up letter. This is all about developing a relationship. Remember that trust is hard to gain and easy to destroy.

Watch the video titled “Speaking for Science” produced by the American Chemical Society to see the BEST way to conduct yourself during your visit.

Remember these points from the video:

  • Do no harm
  • Be punctual -- or arrive early
  • Be organized
  • Be prepared
  • Be focused and attentive
  • Be courteous
  • Send a thank you note

For more details you can read Working With Congress: A Scientists Guide to Policy. This is a great addition to your professional library. The information is relevant and helpful for communicating with policy makers. As a selected participant in CWW, you will receive a free copy of Working With Congress.

Be Prepared

Familiarize yourself with background information on the federal budget and science funding in your state.

If you are new to the federal budget process you should start by reading What’s a Markup?: Answers To That and Other Mysteries Of the Legislative Process

The federal budget is an important issue and will undoubtedly be a part of your visit. Try to stay up-to-date on the issue. Some great political news sources are:

Prepare materials to leave in each office you visit, also known as the “leave-behind”. Do not give gifts or anything of value to the office, member, or staff. Congressional rules strictly prohibit this. A folder with information is all you will need.

Know your members of Congress. Read their biographies, know their committees and interests. Tailor your pitch accordingly.

The Message

The main unifying message is to promote and educate on the all astronomical decadal surveys in astronomy and astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics. The decadal surveys can be found at:

New World, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Vision and Voyages in Planetary Science
A Decadal Strategy for Solar and Space Physics (Heliophysics)

Review the message. We have prepared a leave-behind document that talks about the all the astronomical decadal surveys, the James Webb Space Telescope, the federal budget, and restarting domestic production of plutonium-238.

Your Individual Message

Your member of Congress wants to connect with you, want to hear from you, and want your vote. Your institution’s lobbying firm may have prepared statements on the university or facility’s position on your message. Talk about your research or mission you are involved in, especially if you work on a specific mission in the astronomical decadal surveys.

Your members of Congress are most interested in what affects their state or Congressional District. Review how the member of Congress can positively impact your state or district by supporting the message. State statistics on R&D funding, contracts, education and investments for 2011 and 2010 can be found at:

Before You Leave the Office

Say thank you and that you appreciate their time.

Ask for a card! This will help with following up and filling out the survey before being reimbursed.

TIP #6: Listen. Listening is just as important as talking about your message. Let the conversation be organic. Be prepared when the staffer asks questions that may seem unrelated to your message. Enjoy the conversation.

TIP #7: Limit use of scientific jargon. You are not there to lecture or prove how smart you are. For example, phrases or words such as “alpha particles,” “electromagnetic spectrum,” or “magnetohydrodynamics” should not be used unless asked.


Your work does not end after your visit. You want to be in communication with the offices you visited throughout your career. To initiate a communication you send a follow-up letter. The AAS would like to measure the effectiveness of the program. After your visit you have to fill our a survey and include a copy of your follow up letter in order to be reimbursed for your travel.

Follow-up letter

You must send a follow up letter for each or your visits.  Not only is it a good practice, but it is required as part of the program when you fill out the Survey and to get reimbursed. Create a PDF document for each follow-up letter to upload when during the Survey.

You may send a follow-up either by email, fax, or regular mail. The typical format for follow-up letters are:

  • Say thank you
  • Reiterate your message
  • Offer to be a resource
  • Mention that you will watch the Congress-person's actions on the issue.

You many also want to send a hand-written thank you card to those you met. This is not required as part of the program, but it is standard practice and a professional courtesy to let the person you met with that you value their time by taking your time to hand-write a thank you.


The survey helps AAS gather metrics and gauge the effectiveness of the program. You must fill out the survey before you get reimbursed. First, fill out the survey. Then follow the instructions for reimbursement. You will be reimbursed once we receive confirmation of completing the survey and after you submit the proper forms and receipts.

For the survey you will need:

  • List of offices and corresponding individual you met with, use cards obtained from visits
  • Follow up letters in PDF format

Please fill out the survey.


Only when you submit the survey will you have access to the forms for reimbursement.  Please follow the instructions for reimbursement found in the AAS Public Policy Travel Guidelines.


Travel will be undertaken via the most economical means consistent with the mission to be accomplished. In general, this will mean:

  • Lowest-cost airfares, utilizing, where possible, advance purchase discounts, lower cost routings, and the carrier of the lowest cost.
  • Reasonably priced accommodations convenient for the mission to be accomplished.
  • Room service should be limited and only utilized only when absolutely necessary.

Travel expenses will be reimbursed for actual costs incurred while on travel. A Travel Expense Report (available on the Public Policy Web Page) will be filed within 10 working days of completion of the travel. Report shall be accompanied by all receipts detailing:

  • Hotel, or Lodging costs;
  • Airfare, including any surcharges for change of reservation;
  • Supplemental transportation, including taxi, rental auto, train, etc.;
  • Any single meal charges.

Original receipts must be submitted unless you are required to file the original receipts with your institution.

Please submit your expense reports with all documentation to Kelly Clark, CFO at the AAS office. If you are filing copies of the receipts because you are required to submit the originals to your institution, please send the forms and receipts to