Congressional Staff Roles
To those unfamiliar with Capitol Hill, the titles given to staff of Members of Congress can be confusing. In order to enable you to be most effective in communicating with Congress, we have listed below the most commonly used titles and principal functions of key staff in your Representative or Senator’s office.
Administrative Assistant/Chief of Staff. Refers to the individual with direct access to the member and overall responsibility for advising him/her on legislative initiatives and constituent relations. In addition, the administrative assistant (AA) is usually in charge of office operations and supervision of key staff.
Legislative Director. The staff person responsible for monitoring the legislative schedule and making recommendations to the member regarding the pros and cons of specific legislative proposals. He or she also frequently oversees the work of several legislative assistants, who are assigned to specific issue areas, such as health, welfare reform, taxes, etc. Some offices also have a number of legislative correspondents, who respond to constituent inquiries on behalf of the member. The legislative director is sometimes referred to as the senior legislative assistant or legislative coordinator.
Press Secretary or Communications Director. Promoting the member’s views or position on issues to the media, constituents and the general public is the responsibility of the press secretary. It is also important that this individual understands the special requirements of both the print and electronic media and knows how to build effective lines of communication between them and the Member of Congress.
Appointment Secretary, Personal Secretary, or Scheduler. The staff person that manages the complex and multiple demands on a member’s time. This individual must find a balance between constituent requests, congressional responsibilities and staff requirements in deciding the member’s availability for meetings. The appointment secretary may also be responsible for making travel arrangements, arranging speaking dates and planning visits to the district.
Other Staff Titles. Other staff may include caseworkers, who help resolve constituent problems, the office manager and the receptionist.