Professional Careers in Public Policy

Office of Policy Analysis

 

The Office of Policy Analysis (OPA) in the Department of Legislative Services provides the Maryland General Assembly with nonpartisan research and analysis.  Policy analysts work directly with the General Assembly to help identify and analyze public policy issues and formulate legislative proposals.  Their work takes the form of written analytical reports, confidential memoranda, periodic publications, and briefings to legislative committees.

 

Professional positions in the Office of Policy Analysis require a law degree or master’s degree in public policy, public administration, accounting, business, economics, finance, science, government or related fields.

 

Session Work

 

In the Office of Policy Analysis (OPA), professional staff analysts assist the legislature through four functional activities: budget analysis, fiscal and policy notes, legislation and committee support.  During the annual legislative session (January – April), analysts work exclusively in their functional assignment.

 

Budget Analysis

 

Budget analysts monitor the finances and performance of State programs for the General Assembly.  The work gives analysts an opportunity to gain in-depth understanding of the fiscal, programmatic, and operational aspects of State agencies and programs.  Analysts prepare workload and budget forecasts, provide extensive written analysis for the legislature, present findings, issues, and recommendations to legislative committees, and draft amendments to capital and operating budgets and related legislation.

 

Fiscal and Policy Notes

 

Fiscal and policy note analysts provide the legislature and the public with a balanced overview of every bill introduced during the 90-day session.  Combining information from government agencies and interested parties with original research and analysis, each fiscal and policy note provides a plain language summary of the bill and how it changes current law, background information, and most importantly, an estimate of the bill’s impact on State and local government finances.

 

Legislation

 

Analysts assigned to the legislation function have the primary responsibility for drafting legislation for members of the General Assembly that will accomplish the ends intended by the legislator, adhering to constitutional strictures and falling within the structure and style established for Maryland statutory law.  In addition to drafting bills for introduction, analysts prepare amendments for consideration by legislative committees and by legislators during floor debate in the House of Delegates and the Senate.

 

Committee Support

 

Committee analysts provide legal and policy support to the ten standing committee of the legislature, facilitating the committees’ consideration of the large volume of bills referred to them.  Duties include: reviewing legislation to identify legal, constitutional, and policy issues; drafting amendments, floor reports, and other documents to assist the chairpersons and committee members during the legislative process; and being responsive and available to meet the needs of the chairpersons and members in a hectic, fast-paced work environment.

 

Interim Work

 

OPA analysts from each of the functions are assigned to policy-related work groups based on the subject areas in which they work during session.  During the legislative interim when the General Assembly is not in session (May – December), work group members conduct research and analysis of issues that may be before the General Assembly.

 

Other interim activities in which OPA analysts may participate, in addition to the functional assignment, include: staffing special committees and task forces; reviewing regulations proposed by the Executive Branch; and responding to legislative requests.  Analysts with law degrees may also participate in a multi-year project to reorganize and revise the codification of Maryland’s statutes.

 

Library & Information Services

 

Library and Information Services provides reference and research services to the General Assembly and its staff and legislative information to the public. The Library contains over 85,000 volumes, including the Laws of Maryland since 1637 and House and Senate Journals since 1826, as well as all other State and federal laws. An extensive collection of materials related to bills introduced in previous legislative sessions consists of committee files and votes, floor votes, indexes, and other valuable documents. Librarians use these resources and others in the collection, as well as standard library resources, including online databases and the Internet, to provide information on public policy topics and other reference information of interest to the legislature. Librarians index bills, laws, and other legislative publications. Additionally, by law, through the Library, the Department of Legislative Services serves as the official depository for all State agency publications and for all county government codes. Maryland Documents, a listing of the State agency publications, is distributed each month to legislators and staff.

 

In addition to traditional library functions, staff also writes, edits, and coordinates the preparation of legislative documents and materials for a diverse audience. These include publications such as the Daily Synopsis, the weekly Legislative Wrap-Up, and the Annapolis Report. Staff also prepares the Maryland Clipper, a compilation of newspaper clippings of interest to the legislature, daily during session and weekly during the interim. Legislative Information Desk staff responds to requests for legislative information from the public over the telephone, via e-mail, in person, and through the distribution of numerous legislative documents.

 

Coordinating the General Assembly's educational and visitors' programs for schoolchildren, constituents, public interest groups, and international dignitaries, many of whom are legislators in their own countries, is an important part of this unit's work.  Visits to the General Assembly of officials from other states and countries are usually coordinated by Library staff in conjunction with the United States Information Agency, Congressional Research Service, National Conference of State Legislators, Maryland International Center, Maryland Sister States Program, or other similar agencies and organizations. Staff also conducts workshops and orientations about the legislative process and the General Assembly on request.

 

Applicants interested in applying for positions in the OPA should inquire at the Department of Legislative Services, Human Resources Office, Room 311, 90 State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401 or call (410) 946-5120 or (301) 946-5120.