01.06.2011 0

The Builders of a Congressional Team

By NRD Staff –

Sixty-three new GOP House Members are settling into their new office spaces and organizing their work lives as well as their new personal lives in D.C.

But theirs aren’t the only lives changing. Each of these 63 members first order of business was to hire a Chief of Staff — their right-hand man, or woman.

The Chief of Staff takes special care and consideration to hire the rest of the office staff, balance the office budget and make sure the Member is able to focus on accomplishing his/her goals in Congress.

Americans for Limited Government (ALG) spoke with a couple Chiefs of Staff for new GOP House Members and asked them about the process of setting up an office to ensure the Member is able to effectively represent their constituents.

Chief of Staff Jim Hayes works for Rep. Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) and Chief of Staff Karen Czarnecki works for Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-3). Here are some of their responses:

Q. What does it take to establish a Congressional office from scratch? What is involved?

A. Jim Hayes: It includes the mundane tasks like getting the office keys and staff IDs. You also have to put an entire staff and budget together. It is like starting a new small business.

A. Karen Czarnecki: You need to know people. I received more than 5,000 resumes so you really need to consider the Member’s background and where they are coming from to match up skills.

Q. What are the Member’s responsibilities when starting as a freshman GOP Member in the House and what committee assignments have they received?

A. Jim Hayes: [Rep. Vicky Hartzler] will be serving on the Armed Services and Agriculture committees. We started by greeting her at the airport and taking her to sign her new lease in DC. This week she is busy doing prep work with the news media, everything from national to local media. She is getting her personal life together as well as her work.

A. Karen Czarnecki: [Rep. Mike Kelly] is on the Oversight and Government Reform and Education and Labor committees — those are the committees he requested. He needs to make sure he is serving his constituents. His voters want to know why the government is overspending and why it is so over bloated.

Q. What are your Member’s primary interests and what does he/she want to accomplish in this next Congress?

A. Jim Hayes: She is interested in balancing the budget and cutting spending. She is learning to mix the local concerns with the national ones.

A. Karen Czarnecki: His main concern is making sure he is accomplishing what the voters are asking of him. He is concerned with the fiscal well-being of the country. As a past businessman, he understands that if you don’t have the money in your bank account then you shouldn’t be spending it.

Q. What do you see as your primary role as Chief of Staff?

A. Jim Hayes: I am the team leader. I am here to empower everyone to do their job and help the Member serve the people of the 4th District of Missouri.

A. Karen Czarnecki: My No. 1 role is to make sure he is staffed appropriately. We also have to be ready to listen and respond to our constituents on day one.

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