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

Closing a Congressional Office: Overview and Guide to House and Senate Practices *

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

Closing a Congressional Office: Overview and Guide to House and Senate Practices *

Article excerpt

Turnover of membership in the House and Senate necessitates closing congressional offices. The most common reason for departure is the expiration of a Member's term of office, but Ta congressional office may also become vacant due to resignation, death, or other reasons. The closure of a congressional office requires an outgoing Member of Congress, or congressional officials, in the case of a deceased Member, to evaluate pertinent information regarding staff; the disposal of personal and official records; and final disposition of office accounts, facilities, and equipment. Table 1 summarizes the numbers of Members leaving the House and Senate after the 110th Congress, and in the prior 10 Congresses. The House and Senate have developed extensive resources to assist Members in closing their offices. These services are typically used at the end of a Congress, when a Member's term of service ends, but most services are available to an office that becomes vacant for other reasons. This report provides an overview of issues that may arise in closing a congressional office, and provides a guide to resources available through the appropriate support offices of the House and Senate.

HOUSE SUPPORT

House office closing activities are supported by the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Clerk of the House, and House Sergeant at Arms. Resources related to closing a congressional office are available to House offices through the 112th Congress transition website on the House intranet [1]

SENATE SUPPORT

When it becomes known that a Senate office will be closing, the Sergeant at Arms contacts that office to initiate closing support services.[2]

The Senate Sergeant at Arms provides office closing services through an Office Support Services Customer Support Analyst (CSA) assigned to each Senate office. A CSA helps coordinate an initial closing office planning meeting between the office and all Senate support offices, and it facilitates the provision of the following:

* office equipment inventory reports

* assistance with archiving documents

* information on closing out financial obligations

* information on benefits and entitlements available to a Senator after leaving office

STAFF

House

Payroll for staff of Members who are leaving office at the conclusion of a Congress typically terminates automatically on January 2. The employing authority, a Member in the case of a personal office that is closing, determines whether outgoing staff are eligible to receive a lump sum payment for any accrued annual leave.

Other potential benefits, including retirement plans, post-employment life or health insurance benefits, and student loan repayment programs, are administered through the House Office of Human Resources, according to statute and chamber regulation. The office will continue to interact with former House employees on a wide range of post-employment matters, including wage and earning statements, employee benefits, and any forms that must be completed by former employees.

In addition to staff procedures to support the closing of a Representative's office, the House provides certain post-employment services to departing staff, including

* a résumé referral service to House staff who desire employment with Members-elect, provided by the CAO;

* individual outplacement and technical assistance, as well as job search strategies and transitional techniques to separating employees of the House, provided by the House Outplacement Services Resource Center; and

* help for affected employees focused on designing and developing a successful job search, provided by the Office of Employee Assistance.

Senate

Staffs of Senators who will leave office when their term of office officially expires at noon on January 3 of the year in which such a term ends remain on the payroll until the close of business on January 2 of the year in which the Senator's term of office expires, unless terminated sooner [3]. …

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