Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of the United States, Canada and Mexico

House of Representatives and Senate Staff Levels in Member, Committee, Leadership, and Other Offices, 1977-2010 *

Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of the United States, Canada and Mexico

House of Representatives and Senate Staff Levels in Member, Committee, Leadership, and Other Offices, 1977-2010 *

Article excerpt

In the past three decades, staff working for the House and Senate has grown. Between 1977 and 2009, the number of House staff grew from 8,831 to 9,808, or 11.06%. In the Senate, the number of staff has grown steadily, from 3,380 in 1977 to 6,099 in 2010, or 80.44%. There are differences in the scale of growth between the chambers, but there are similarities in the patterns of change in the distribution of staff among congressional entities. In each chamber, for example, there have been increases in the number of staff working in chamber leadership offices, and larger increases in the staffing of chamber officers and officials. In the House and Senate, staff working for Members have shifted from committee settings to the personal offices of Members. Some of these changes may be indicative of the growth of the House and Senate as institutions, or the value the chambers place on their activities.

The manner in which staff are deployed within an organization may reflect the mission and Tpriorities of that organization.

In Congress, employing authorities hire staff to carry out duties in Memberoffice, committee, leadership, and other settings. The extent to which staff in those settings change may lend insight into the work of the two chambers over time. Some of the insights that might be taken from staff levels include

* an understanding of the division of congressional work between Members working individually through their personal offices, or collectively, through committee activities;

* the relationship between committee leaders and chamber leaders, which could have implications for the development and consideration of legislation or the use of congressional oversight; and

* the extent to which specialized chamber administrative operations have grown over time.

This report provides staffing levels in House- and Senate-Member [1], committee, leadership, and other offices since 1977. No House or Senate publication appears to track the actual number of staff working in the chambers by office or entity. Data presented here are based on staff listed by chamber entity (offices of Members, committees, leaders, officers, officials, and other entities) in telephone directories published by the House and Senate. Figure 1 displays overall staffing levels in the House and Senate.

Table 1 in the "Data Tables" section below, provides data for all staff listed in chamber directories in the House through 2009 (the latest data available) and in the Senate through 2010. House and Senate staffing data are provided in the "House of Representatives Data Tables" and "Senate Data Tables" sections, respectively, below. Joint committee staff data from both chambers for panels that met in the 111th Congress (2009-2010) are provided in Table 12. [2]

Congressional staff may be counted in two ways. These include a full-time equivalent (FTE) count that focuses on job positions, and a "head count," that provides the number of people carrying out the work. FTE counts focus on the work to be done, and how much staffing is required to accomplish that work. They are typically used to determine staffing and budgetary need for an organization, but do not reflect the actual number of people who carry out that work. [3]

Congress uses FTE figures in conjunction with developing appropriations for the legislative branch. The head count approach tabulates the actual number of people working, based on a number of potential data sources. These sources may include payroll records, organizational directories, or other records that capture most of the people working for an organization at any one time.[4] Payroll data are supplied by the House and Senate to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on a monthly basis and made available as a public document,5 but they are not broken down by congressional office or entity. [6]

This report provides data based on a count of staff listed in chamber telephone directories published since 1977. …

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