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State legislatures employ over 35,000 staff who provide professional services to state legislators and to the legislative institution. Over the past few decades, staff numbers have increased significantly in most states, but the growth trend has flattened out in recent years. See data about the number of staff in each legislature for the years 1979, 1988, 1996, 2003 and 2009 to measure how your state legislature's overall staff numbers have changed during this period.
Staff organization also looks different from state to state. Generally, most state legislatures started out with small, central, nonpartisan staff groups but over the years many legislatures have created specialized staff groups, decentralized their staff organization and added partisan staff to their operations.
To learn more about legislative staff structures, go to the Legislative Staff Services database. You can read about each state's legislative staff organization, see how your state compares to others and get ideas about alternate staffing arrangements.
NCSL Self-Assessment Guide for Legislative Staff Organizations
The NCSL Self-Assessment Guide for Legislative Staff Organizations is a customized survey tool that provides insights into organizational strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. It is presented in two parts. This introductory part provides an overview and explanation of the Self-Assessment Guide along with definitions and other resources. The companion, Excel-based selfassessment survey and instructions bring the Self-Assessment Guide to life, offering a valuable new approach for evaluating organizational performance and for beginning a discussion about organizational change and improvement.
For more detail on staff organization and management issues, contact Brian Weberg at NCSL.
Services for Legislative Staff
NCSL’s staff sections and networks
NCSL’s staff sections and networks help staff with similar jobs to meet and interact. They offer legislative employees specialized forums for discussion of professional issues and for development and delivery of customized training. Contact Bruce Feustel to discuss staff training opportunities at NCSL.
As staff organizations have grown and matured, the role of staff managers and the importance of management skill in the legislative workplace has gained increased importance. NCSL has numerous publications that may be of interest—for example: