Creating a Coordinated Agenda
*Excerpt from Keeping It Local: A Guide for Managing Congressional District & State Offices, Chapter 1, copyright Congressional Management Foundation.
- Engage in strategic planning to set goals and priorities for the Member and staff, allocate resources and enable your office to be more proactive and effective.
- Integrate the district/state and DC goals into a coordinated agenda that encourages both offices to work together for improved teamwork and effectiveness.
- Consider the advantages and disadvantages of the basic planning methods (full-staff, liaison, small-group, hybrid) before choosing one that works best for your office.
- Assess the following to guide your planning: the Member’s personal goals and interests; district/state needs; office strengths and weaknesses; and opportunities and threats.
- Consider developing a two-year strategic plan, rather than just one-year, to take advantage of the full legislative cycle and to encourage comprehensive thinking for the entire congressional session.
- Allow the Washington and district/state staffs to pursue separate agendas, which increase the likelihood for conflict, tension and costly mistakes.
- Operate without a clearly-defined long-term vision of what the Member seeks to accomplish in Congress.
- Write a mission statement that is too broad (“to make a difference”) or establishes too many themes. The more focused it is (preferably one or two themes), the more direction it provides the staff.
- Include more than 3–5 short-term goals in your strategic plan. Single out what’s most important, most feasible and most consistent with the office’s mission statement.
- Draft an action plan without deadlines or assigning responsibilities. Specific timeframes and clearly-defined roles are essential to keeping everyone accountable and focused on the plan.