Each elected or appointed official has staff to assist him/her during a term in office. Because public officials must deal with a variety of different issues, they typically rely on staff members to monitor and make recommendations. Often, the most effective way to persuade a public official to support an issue is to reach out to the staff member responsible for the issue. To be most effective in communicating with government officials, particularly Members of Congress and state legislators, it is helpful to know the titles and principal functions of key staff members.
Commonly Used Titles:
Administrative Assistant (AA) or Chief of Staff:
The administrative assistant reports directly to the legislator or elected official. He or she usually has overall responsibility for evaluating legislative proposals, policy decisions, and constituent requests. The AA is usually the person in charge of overall office operations, including assigning work and managing staff.
Legislative Director, Senior Legislative Assistant or Legislative Coordinator:
The legislative director is usually the staff person who monitors the legislative schedule and makes recommendations regarding particular issues. In some congressional offices, there are also several legislative assistants, who are responsible for specific issues. For example, depending on the responsibilities and interests of the member, an office may include a different legislative assistant for transportation, the environment, tax policy, and budget issues.
Press Secretary or Communications Director:
The press secretary’s responsibility is to communicate the official’s agenda and activities to constituents, usually by working through the media.
Appointment Secretary, Personal Secretary or Scheduler:
The appointment secretary is responsible for allocating the official’s time among the many demands that arise. The appointment secretary may also be responsible for making travel arrangements, arranging speaking dates, scheduling meetings with key constituents, and, planning visits to the district.
The caseworker is the staff member usually assigned to resolve specific problems constituents present, including those involving state and federal agencies (i.e., Social Security and Medicare issues, veterans’ benefits, passports, etc.). There are often several caseworkers in a congressional office.
Other Staff Titles:
Other titles used in a government official’s office may include: Executive Assistant, Legislative Correspondent, Executive Secretary, Office Manager, and Receptionist.