Community Compensation Guidelines


This guidance is for agencies that establish Class One groups, such as boards, commissions, task forces, committees, and workgroups, in the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of Washington State government, and how to comply with Second Substitute Senate Bill (2SSB) 5793 which states:

“The legislature finds that equitable public policy discussions should include individuals directly impacted by that policy. In order to do so, the legislature supports removing barriers to that participation. The legislature finds that asking community members with lower financial means to volunteer their time and expertise while state employees and representatives of advocacy organizations receive compensation from their respective agency or organization for their time and experience ultimately hinders full and open public participation. As a result, the legislature finds that removing financial barriers for those individuals fosters increased access to government and enriches public policy discussions and decisions, ultimately leading to more equitable and sustainable policy outcomes.”

“Subject to available funding, agencies may provide a stipend to individuals who are low income OR have lived experience to support their participation in class one groups when the agency determines such participation is desirable in order to implement the principles of equity described in RCW 43.06D.020, provided that the individuals are not otherwise compensated for their attendance at meetings.”

Underlying Philosophy

Public policy discussions should involve the individuals who are being or have been impacted by that policy or subject matter. By embracing co-creation, we advance a reality that people are the experts of their own lives and are partners in the government decisions that impact them.

The intent of these guidelines is to remove barriers to participation in government actions, discussions, and decision-making and to recognize the value and expertise community members contribute to state government workgroups. For the sustained success of promoting equitable policy development, state agencies must establish, sustain, and grow relational partnerships. Moving from a transactional culture to a relational one is critical to developing the trust needed to meet the unique challenges of the 21st century.

These guidelines are a living document for statewide agency guidance. Revisions will occur to be responsive to community feedback, state agency input, and emerging research.


For the purpose of this document, the term “workgroup” will be used to refer to any eligible group defined in 2SSB 5793 as “boards, commissions, councils, committees, and other similar groups.” This includes all Class One groups, which are defined as any part-time board, commission, council, committee, or other similar group which is established by the executive, legislative, or judicial branch to participate in state government and which functions primarily in an advisory, coordinating, or planning capacity that is not otherwise designated as a statutory class two, class three, class four, or class five workgroup. Workgroups may be established by legislation, executive order, or by agency initiative.

State agencies may want to consider the following for agency-initiated workgroups:

  1. What is the advisory, coordinating or planning purpose of the workgroup?
  2. Who within the agency has the authority to establish?
  3. How will chairs/co-chairs be designated?
  4. How will the agency coordinate payment of stipends and reporting responsibilities

Lived experience
Direct personal experience in the subject matter being addressed by the board, commission, council, committee, or other similar group.

Workgroups should partner with people who are part of historically excluded communities those who have been disproportionately impacted by policies, processes, and systems that the workgroup seeks to address. These people have the expertise and perspective necessary to determine what needs to change in our systems to achieve better outcomes.

Which perspectives meet the definition of lived experience will change depending on the subject matter and goal(s) of the workgroup. For example, a workgroup that examines the impact of a particular policy in long term adult care should include a diverse representation of people who need care as well as caregivers, especially those who have been disproportionately underserved or have experienced disparate outcomes. A workgroup leader may want to consult with the agency assigned attorney general for guidance.

Low income
An individual whose income is not more than 400% of the federal poverty level, adjusted for family size.

Examples of a person who is eligible for compensation based on their income and not on their lived experience such as a Washington resident who wants to participate in government processes and does not have direct, personal experience.

The federal poverty amounts are amended annually by the Health and Human Services Department. Refer to the most current year when determining income eligibility for workgroup members. The 2023 Federal Poverty Guidelines are shown below.

2023 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
1 $14,580
2 $19,720
3 $24,860
4 $30,000
5 $35,140
6 $40,280
7 $45,420
8 $50,560


Calculation Examples:

  • 400% calculation: for a family of four, household income could not exceed $120,000 (4 X $30,000)
  • “To calculate the percentage of poverty level, divide income by the poverty guideline and multiply by 100. So, a family of five in New Jersey with an annual income of $80,000 would be calculated to earn ($80,000/$32,470) x 100 = 246% of the federal poverty guidelines for 2022…” - Investopedia

Otherwise Compensated

The workgroup member is already being paid for their participation by another party.

2SSB 5793 states that community members who are low-income or have lived experience may receive compensation “provided that the individuals are not otherwise compensated for their attendance at meetings.”

The concept of “otherwise compensated” is not defined in the legislation or existing statute. For the purposes of these guidelines, we understand this to mean that if the workgroup member is already receiving hourly wages, salary, or any other kind of payment for their participation in the workgroup, they are being otherwise compensated, and are therefore ineligible for additional compensation from the agency overseeing the workgroup. An example of this would be if someone whose full time job is in policy advocacy and their scope of work at the job for which they are already receiving a salary includes activities such as engaging with local government and agencies to help inform public policy.

If you have questions about what constitutes as otherwise compensated, please consult with your AAG.

Reasonable Allowance
Reasonable allowances include any financial reimbursements for travel, lodging, mileage, and child and adult care. These rates are defined by OFM. See section on mechanics for stipends & reimbursement for more information on how to implement payments for reimbursable costs. These allowances should not be confused with stipend payments, which are compensation offered in exchange for a workgroup member’s time and efforts, as opposed to compensation to cover practical costs incurred in the course of work that require reimbursement.