By Erica MacKellar
The National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices (NALFO) was officially formed in 1976, but legislative fiscal officers were sharing information and networking long before then.
In 1967, a group of legislative fiscal staff formed the Western States Legislative Fiscal Officers Association (WSLFOA) in Phoenix to facilitate information sharing in the Western states.
Over the next few years, legislative fiscal office directors from some Midwestern states participated in the WSLFOA annual meeting, and eventually formed the Midwestern Legislative Fiscal Officers Association. Legislative fiscal staff in the Southern U.S. were in contact with each other through the Southern Legislative Conference, which included both legislators and legislative staff. At the same time, legislative fiscal directors in New England formed the Association of New England Fiscal Officers.
As these various groups became aware of each other, legislative fiscal directors in the regions began to think about creating a national organization to facilitate information-sharing and problem-solving on a larger scale.
There were differences of opinion on how the organization should be formed and function, but ultimately, it was decided the group should be affiliated with and supported by NCSL. However, many legislative directors also valued their regional affiliations, and some of the regional groups still remain strong and hold an annual meeting.
WSLFOA met in Oklahoma City this year and, as you can see from the picture, got an in-depth tour of Oklahoma’s capitol renovations. What is now the Eastern States Legislative Fiscal Officers Association (ESLFOA) met in Portsmouth, N.H., to discuss issues affecting legislative staff in the Eastern states and, of course, take a harbor cruise.
These meetings, as well as the NALFO track at NCSL’s Legislative Summit, help foster relationships among state legislatures and improve the quality of work and ideas from legislative fiscal offices.
When it was created in 1976, the founding legislative fiscal directors established a mission for NALFO of fostering and improving the general quality of legislative fiscal staff assistance to state legislatures.
To achieve this mission, NALFO sponsors programming at NCSL’s Legislative Summit, as well as promoting NCSL’s Fiscal Analysts Seminar, which provides professional development for legislative fiscal staff.
Since its creation, NALFO has been open to all legislative staff with fiscal responsibilities, creating a loose confederation, rather than a highly structured group. The focus of the organization has always been on strengthening the work of legislative fiscal staff, and as part of that mission, the group does not weigh in on policy discussions.
In accordance with its mission, NALFO continues to provide legislative fiscal staff with opportunities to share ideas and network with each other to improve the work of legislative fiscal offices around the country, Washington D.C., and the territories.
Erica MacKellar is a senior policy specialist in NCSL's Fiscal program.