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Managing Congressional Staff in the 21st Century

In the last few months, employees nationwide have held conversations across various job sectors about their workplace environment and how employers can cultivate a better work/life balance.

The Modernization committee wanted to share what we’re doing on behalf of congressional staff, the backbone of the People’s House, to ensure their work on behalf of the American people is supported, and is not dwarfed by Executive Branch influence and lobbyist interests. 

Staff have a wealth of institutional knowledge and policy expertise that Members utilize to make informed decisions that impact the lives of Americans from coast-to-coast. However, high staff turnover puts Congress at a big disadvantage to work for the people.

During last year’s hearing titled, “Cultivating Diversity and Improving Retention Among Congressional Staff,” Chair Derek Kilmer and Vice Chair Tom Graves stated, “Congress should be leading by example when it comes to diversity, inclusion and staff support, and there is a lot of catching up to do.”

 

There is no central Human Resources department for congressional staff, which creates confusion and inefficiencies. That’s one of the reasons why the Modernization Committee unanimously passed recommendations to streamline and reorganize House Human Resources to better serve congressional staff and reflect a 21st century workplace environment.

These recommendations to streamline and reorganize House Human Resources were passed as legislation when the House voted in March to approve H. Res. 756, the MODCOM resolution.

Continuing the conversations from last year, the Committee held a virtual member discussion on June 8th about congressional staffing reforms featuring Casey Burgat, Director of Legislative Affairs at Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University, and Kathryn Pearson, Associate Professor at University of Minnesota, expanding on how Congress’ agenda, legislation and representation have dramatically increased, but budget and staff have relatively stayed the same.

 

 

In the virtual member discussion Chair Kilmer said, “the bottom line is this: until Congress can offer competitive pay and benefits, Congress will continue to lose talented and smart staff. And rather than view them as replaceable, we should create an environment that encourages the best staffers to stay.”

Following the Chair’s opening statement Vice Chair Graves said, “It’s important we attract and retain a workforce compromised of different voices, backgrounds and skills. There’s more work to do when it comes to supporting the men and women who help us draft legislation and serve as the first line of communication with our constituents.”

Chair Kilmer, Vice Chair Graves, and the committee members recognize and understand the importance of a diverse workforce, retaining and recruiting staff, and discussions pertaining to staff are ongoing and will continue to shape the work that lies ahead to ensure Congress is working at its best for all Americans.

 

If you have any suggestions, send us an email!

Modernizecongress@mail.house.gov

 


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