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Public policy engagement

Microsoft is recognized as a leader in accountability and transparency of our engagement in the public policy process.

Report last updated October 2016

Our approach

Corporate participation in the public policy process is an important and essential means of enhancing shareholder value. It is also fundamental to free and democratic societies.

We strive to ensure that our participation in the political process is open, transparent, and based on reasons that are clear and justifiable to our shareholders and the public. Microsoft and our employees participate in the United States political process in a variety of ways, including:

  • Joining corporate government affairs programs designed to educate and influence elected officials on key public policy issues related to the company's business.
  • Giving individual political employee donations through the Microsoft Political Action Committee (MSPAC).
  • Helping to advance our business objectives through memberships in trade associations.

Microsoft is recognized as a leader for policies that ensure the accountability and transparency of our public policy engagement. During FY16, we received the second highest rating in the 2016

CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Accountability and Disclosure.

(Compiled annually by the Center for Political Accountability and the Carol and Lawrence Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business)

Policy agenda

In October 2016, Microsoft launched a cloud policy roadmap that seeks to maximize the opportunities and minimize the challenges that cloud computing brings. This roadmap covers fifteen policy areas and provides a comprehensive set of 78 recommendations and considerations grounded in three core principles: We need a trusted cloud; we need a responsible cloud; and we need an inclusive cloud to ensure nobody is left behind.

The roadmap presents our perspectives on policies to harness the social and economic benefits of cloud computing to benefit everyone, not just the fortunate few. It outlines policies to ensure cloud computing is:

  • Trusted with policies addressing personal privacy, government access to data, cross-border data flows, and cybercrime prevention.
  • Responsible with policies that balance human rights and public safety, prevent technology fraud and online exploitation, promote environmental sustainability, and address Artificial Intelligence.
  • Inclusive with policies enabling affordable and ubiquitous access, digital literacy, next generation skills, including people with disabilities, and supporting businesses of every size.

Responsible governance

  • The Regulatory and Public Policy Committee of the Microsoft Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing the company's public policy work and related activities. The committee receives regular, formal reports.
  • Management of our participation in the political process in the United States is the responsibility of the Vice President for US Government Affairs, who reports directly to Microsoft's General Counsel, who reports to the company CEO.
  • The Microsoft Political Action Committee (MSPAC) Steering Committee, a bipartisan committee of Microsoft federal and state government affairs professionals, is responsible for oversight and day-to-day decision making related to political spending. Oversight of the committee spans corporate fund expenditures as well as employee and shareholder donations made via the MSPAC program.

Microsoft requires that those individuals who recommend corporate political contributions in the United States certify as to their knowledge of and adherence to these policies and practices. Outside ethics counsel reviews and approves all MSPAC and corporate political giving activities, filings, reports, and materials. Microsoft publishes MSPAC and corporate political spending reports semi-annually on the corporate website.

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More about MSPAC

Microsoft sponsors MSPAC to enable Microsoft employees and shareholders to participate more effectively in the U.S. political process. The committee, created in 1988, informs its members about important issues and government decisions that can affect Microsoft business. It also provides an opportunity for members to collectively support public policy positions that are important to Microsoft and the software industry.

As a bipartisan organization that contributes to the campaigns of federal, state, and local candidates, MSPAC typically supports candidates who share Microsoft’s views on public policy, serve as congressional or legislative leaders, represent districts or states where Microsoft has a major business presence, or serve on committees that have jurisdiction over legislation that is important to the company.

The MSPAC Steering Committee evaluates candidates' public policy positions on issues that are relevant to Microsoft business or are of particular interest to the computer software industry. The committee—composed of senior managers in Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft—then decides which candidates and campaigns MSPAC will support.

MSPAC Committee Members

Stephanie PetersDirector of Government Affairs
Anne GavinDirector of Government Affairs
Matt GelmanManaging Director of Government Affairs
Ed IngleManaging Director of Government Affairs
Brian BurkeDirector of Government Affairs
Mike EganDirector of Government Affairs
John SampsonDirector of Government Affairs
Andrew WiseDirector of Government Affairs

Transparency in public policy advocacy

Microsoft regularly files and publishes reports that detail our advocacy activities. Our disclosures include consultant fees, lobbying expenses, and trade association dues spent on advocacy.

Public policy advocacy spending

US Federal

US State

Information compiled according to the guidelines of the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

In addition, Microsoft has adopted Principles for Engagement in the Public Policy Process in the United States. These principles address issues specific to the U.S. political and fundraising system.

Under these policies, we commit to disclosing a semi-annual list of election campaign expenditures, including financial and in-kind contributions by the company and MSPAC to candidates, political parties, political committees, and other politically active tax-exempt organizations, such as those organized under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(4), as defined by applicable laws.

To uphold our commitment to the transparency of our political spending and contributions, we do not make corporate contributions to any non-candidate or non-party political committees organized under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, which are formed solely to influence elections. We also make no independent political expenditures or electioneering communications, as permitted under the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, and we inform our trade associations that no Microsoft funds may pay for their independent expenditures or electioneering communications.

To find reports detailing Microsoft’s political contributions including MSPAC contributions. corporate contributions, and trade association memberships, please visit the Reports Hub.

Trade association membership contributions

Like all major corporations, Microsoft is a member of a number of trade associations (organized under section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code) in the United States to help advance our public policy agenda and related business goals. We publicly disclose and update annually a list of those trade associations to which Microsoft pays dues and makes other expenditures through our Legal & Community Affairs group. Each year, Microsoft inquires and makes a reasonable effort to obtain information about what portion of the company's dues or payments were used for lobbying expenditures or political contributions from those associations where our dues and other expenditures total $25,000 or more. This information is publicly disclosed and updated annually.

Trade Association annual reports: Select the fiscal year

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