Legislatures of the Future: Implications of Change  

Complete Document Contents

  • List of Figures
  • Preface and Acknowledgments
  • NCSL Task Force on Legislatures of the Future
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Establish a Focal Issue
    3. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
  • 4. Develop a Sense of History
  • 5. Identify and Assess Driving Forces
  • 6. Identify Core Values
  • 7. Axes of Uncertainty and Scenario Development
  • 8. Develop Scenarios Influenced by Driving Forces
  • 9. Assess the Focal Issue and Vision Within Context of Each Scenario
  • 10. Develop Action Plans Based on a Likely or Desirable Future
  • 11. Implement Action Plans
  • Glossary
  • References

Related Document

NCSL Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee

A Report of the Task Force on Legislatures of the Future 

July 2000

The Legislatures of the Future Task Force was created in 1998 to study how legislatures may change in the future and develop ideas to meet the challenges caused by change.  The task force developed scenarios that describe possible futures that legislators, legislative staff and other observers can use to identify and guide future changes in ways that are most beneficial to state legislatures.

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Legislatures must be proactive in approaching their future. As the world changes, individuals and institutions must be able to quickly recognize the driving forces behind change and adapt to those pressures in reasoned, appropriate ways. A reasoned response to change can only be made in light of the legislatures’ core values. To do less is to risk losing our democratic institutions in the process of change.

In the summer of 1998, Tom Tedcastle and John Phelps, then staff chair and vice-chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures, appointed a two-year task force to study the future of state legislatures. The specific charge was to return to the NCSL legislative Staff Coordinating Committee with recommendations on what can be done to ensure that the legislative institution is be prepared to face the challenges of the 21st

The task force’s challenge was to identify the horizon events or knowledge that hold the greatest promise for change, test our time-honored systems, traditions and values against those likely futures, and make recommendations for constructive change. Given the impossibility of knowing precisely what the future will be, the task force concluded that acceptable strategies for change will be the ones that play out well across several possible suggested futures.

This guide is an effort to capture the processes used by the task force to develop its views on change. Each chapter is designed to take the reader step-by-step through the activities the task force used to generate thoughts on the future of state legislatures and to identify the resulting implications for change. From your earliest decisions on the focal issues to final notes on implementing action plans, the guide will allow you to conduct your own study of the future, uncover the possibilities that it has in store, and prepare actively to make the most of change when it comes.

Good luck with your search. You are in for an exciting and challenging experience. 

posted December 10, 2009