The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call said: "The book is perhaps most valuable for its understanding of the new challenges that legislative staff must face and its in-depth look into the ever-changing and increasingly rapid realm of Congressional communication."
Surviving Inside Congress was written by Mark Strand, Michael Johnson and Jerry Climer. Strand is the current president of the Congressional Institute and Johnson is the Chairman of the Board. Jerry Climer is an original founder of the 23-year old Congressional Institute and its past president.
The book provides essential and non-partisan educational information to new Congressional staff and perhaps fills in some of the gaps for some not-so-new staff. Many books are written with advice for new Members of Congress, and no doubt they would benefit from the book, but rarely is anything written giving new staff an idea of what is expected and required of those who would be the glue that holds the institution of Congress together.
Most new members of Congressional staffs are ill equipped to the meet the diverse and critical needs of elected officials and their constituents. There are no comprehensive training programs, no curriculum that adequately addresses the multiple roles they will play and functions they will perform. This is due in large measure to the uniqueness of the roles they will play and the environment in which their work will be done. As a result, the academic credentials and professional experience they bring with them will have little relevance to the tasks they’re about to undertake.
Surviving Inside Congress explores what professional staff in the public arena can do to prepare themselves for the challenges facing them and those they work for. Although it focuses primarily on work within the United States Congress, what is written here may be of value to everyone interested or involved in government, whether as a student, an elected official, a member of a government agency or a constituency hoping to influence an elected official’s actions. You can purchase your copy of Surviving Inside Congress here.
Mark Strand is the President of the Congressional Institute. The Sausage Factory blog is a Congressional Institute project dedicated to explaining parliamentary procedure, Congressional politics, and other issues pertaining to the legislative branch.