Each member of Congress has staff to assist him or 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 and job functions:
Chief of staff or administrative assistant
This staff member reports directly to the member of Congress and usually has overall responsibility for evaluating the political outcomes of various legislative proposals and constituent requests. The chief of staff or administrative assistant is usually the person in charge of overall office operations, including the assignment of work and the supervision of key staff.
Legislative director, legislative counsel, tax counsel, or senior legislative assistant
The legislative director is usually the staff person who monitors the legislative schedule and makes recommendations regarding the pros and cons of particular issues. Legislative analysis responsibilities are assigned to staff, tax counsel, or legislative assistants with particular expertise in specific areas. Depending on the responsibilities and interests of the member, an office may have separate legislative assistants assigned to health issues, environmental matters, taxes, etc.
Communications director or press secretary
The communications director's responsibility is to build and maintain open and effective lines of communication between the member and constituents and the general public. The communications director 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.
Scheduler, appointment secretary, or personal secretary
The scheduler is usually responsible for apportioning a member's time among the many demands of congressional responsibilities and constituent requests. The scheduler may also be responsible for making necessary travel arrangements, arranging speaking engagements and visits to the district, etc.
The caseworker usually works in the member's district office with the staff member assigned to help with constituent requests by preparing replies for the member's signature. The caseworker's responsibilities may also include helping resolve problems presented by constituents that involve federal agencies. There often several caseworkers in a district office.
Other staff titles Other titles used in a congressional office may include: executive assistant, legislative correspondent, executive secretary, office manager, staff assistant, and receptionist.
Source: Council on Foundations, www.cof.org.