Roles of Congressional Staff Members

Roles of Congressional Staff Members

Each member of Congress has staff to assist them during a term in office. To be most effective in communicating with Congress, it is helpful to know the titles and principal functions of key staff. Commonly used titles and job functions:

Chief of Staff (COS)

This individual has direct access to the member and overall responsibility for offering advice on legislative initiatives and constituent relations. The COS usually oversees office operations and supervises key staff. (Administrative assistant [AA] is another title used interchangeably with COS. More and more congressional offices, however, are giving the AA title to individuals in less-senior positions, such as receptionists and other front-desk staff people.)

Legislative Director (LD)/Deputy Chief of Staff/Senior Legislative Assistant

The LD monitors the member’s legislative schedule and analyzes the pros and cons of specific legislative proposals for the member and COS. The LD also frequently oversees the work of the legislative assistants (see below).

Press Secretary or Communications Director

The press secretary’s main function is to promote the member’s views or positions on a variety of issues to the media, constituents, and the general public. This person understands the special requirements of both the print and electronic media and knows how use these tools to build effective lines of communication with constituents and the media. The press secretary also writes media releases, attends events with the member, and defuses bad publicity.

Legislative Assistant (LA)

An LA typically reports to the LD and is charged with tracking specific issues or issue areas (for example, tax, health, energy, etc.). The LA writes floor statements, monitors legislation, researches issues for the member, keeps staff apprised of developments during committee hearings, and meets with constituents to discuss legislation.

Legislative Correspondent (LC)
The LC answers mail sent to a member’s office. He or she also can help the LAs monitor legislation, meet with constituents, and write policy briefs.

Scheduler/Appointment Secretary

Schedulers manage the complex and multiple demands placed on a member. This individual must find a balance between constituent requests, congressional responsibilities, and staff requirements in deciding the member’s availability for meetings. The scheduler also may be responsible for making travel arrangements, arranging speaking dates, and planning visits to the district.

Other Staff Titles

Other members of the representative’s staff may include caseworkers (who are assigned to help resolve constituent issues in the state/district), the office manager, and receptionists (sometimes known as administrative assistants—see above).


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