NCSL Strategic Plan

Adopted by the NCSL Executive Committee
May 14, 2005
Update of Accomplishments, October 1, 2009

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Overview

State legislatures and the National Conference of State Legislatures have thrived together since the organization’s inception in 1975. Legislators and staff have depended upon NCSL as an objective and responsive source of research and information. They turn to the organization for its unsurpassed expertise on the functioning of state legislatures and legislative issues. And, they take pride in the leading role NCSL has played in strengthening the standing of the states in the federal system.

The environment in which legislatures and NCSL operate is constantly changing. Today’s challenges include rapid changes in technology, the competing demands for the attention of legislators and staff, ever-expanding workloads, and the turnover caused by term limits and other forces. To ensure that NCSL continues to serve state legislatures effectively and creatively, the organization, in early 2001, embarked on a planning process to yield a strategic plan for the coming three years. The process was designed to be inclusive, engaging all facets and aspects of operations of the organization. NCSL engaged Marmillion + Company (MCo) of Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, California, to facilitate the planning and implement a comprehensive approach. This approach involved personal interviews, focus groups, retreats, feedback sessions and surveys to gather information critical to developing the plan.

The resulting plan has evolved in tandem with inspection and redevelopment of a number of key NCSL assets, including its online presence, committee structure and the Foundation for State Legislatures, which includes the Trust for Representative Democracy and Center for Ethics in Government.

NCSL’s strategic plan arrived at a time of organizational strength. Through interviews and focus groups, legislators, staff and others spoke of the strength of NCSL, the respect for the work of the organization in representing state legislatures at the federal level, the value of its research and projects, and the professionalism of NCSL staff. As the authentic, balanced and credible voice for state legislatures, legislators and staff value NCSL for its networking opportunities and its timely, thoughtful communications.

The strategic planning process was welcomed by many as a moment to pause and to take stock of organizational priorities and assets and to focus on issues of organizational relevancy. Issues of term limits, the need for quicker, targeted, digestible information and programs to engage the legislators and staff in interesting ways were cited as necessary to stay current with member expectations and organizational needs.

The planning process identified one central challenge for the organization over the next three years: to be viewed, even more than it is now, by legislators and staff as an extension of the legislature. No matter the question facing the legislature, legislators and staff will turn first to their organization, the National Conference of State Legislatures. Many of the objectives, strategies and tactics contained in the following strategic plan relate to this central theme.

 

posted December 10, 2009