|Role of the Congressional Staff|
Each member of Congress has staff to assist him/her 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:
Chief of Staff:
The Chief of Staff (CO) reports directly to the member of Congress. He/she usually has overall responsibility for evaluating the political outcome of various legislative proposals and constituent requests. The COS is usually the person in charge of overall office operations, including the assignment of work and the supervision of key staff.
Legislative Director, Senior Legislative Assistant, or Legislative Correspondent:
The Legislative Director (LD) is usually the staff person who monitors the legislative schedule and makes recommendations regarding the pros and cons of particular issues. In most congressional offices there are several Legislative Assistants (LA) and responsibilities are assigned to staff with particular expertise in specific areas. For example, depending on the responsibilities and interests of the member, an office may include a different Legislative Assistant for health issues, environmental matters, taxes, etc. A Legislative Correspondent's (LC) main task is to respond to constituent inquiries, but often has responsibilities on specific legislative issues as well (sometimes acting as a Junior Legislative Assistant).
Press Secretary or Communications Director:
The Press Secretary's responsibility is to build and maintain open and effective lines of communication between the member, his/her constituency, and the general public. The Press Secretary is expected to know the benefits, demands, and special requirements of both print and electronic media, and how to most effectively promote the member's views or position on specific issues.
The Scheduler is usually responsible for allocating a member's time among the many demands that arise from congressional responsibilities, staff requirements, and constituent requests. The Appointment Secretary may also be responsible for making necessary travel arrangements, arranging speaking dates, visits to the district, etc.
The Caseworker is the staff member usually assigned to help with constituent requests by preparing replies for the member's signature. The Caseworker's responsibilities may also include helping resolve problems constituents present in relation to federal agencies, e.g., Social Security and Medicare issues, veteran's benefits, passports, etc. There are often several Caseworkers in a congressional office, but they usually reside in district offices, rather than on Capitol Hill.
Other Staff Titles:
Other titles used in a congressional office may include: Executive Assistant, Executive Secretary, Office Manager, and Receptionist.
Adapted from CQ Roll Call ©2014