As the central nonpartisan professional staffing agency for the General Assembly of Maryland, the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) employs more than 350 people who provide legal, fiscal, committee, research, reference, auditing, administrative, and technological support to the members of the legislature and its committees. The department's mission is to facilitate the legislative process by providing the members of the General Assembly with the highest quality of staff support. This requires that the department establish and maintain high performance standards for its staff, as well as create an organizational culture that promotes adaptability to the changing needs and priorities of the General Assembly.
Appointed by the House Speaker and Senate President in consultation with the House and Senate Minority Leaders, the Executive Director has overall responsibility and supervision over the offices, functions, personnel, budget, and activities of the Department of Legislative Services.
The Executive Director is responsible for management, oversight, and direction of the department's four offices: the Office of Policy Analysis; the Office of Operations and Support Services; the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability; and the Office of Legislative Audits. The position of Counsel to the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, which functions as Ethics Advisor to the General Assembly also falls under the supervision of the Executive Director.
Office of Operations and Support Services
The Office of Operations and Support Services provides administrative activities of the General Assembly including personnel, benefits, budget, accounting, procurement, facilities management, supply inventories, distribution of bills and mail, and graphics and printing services. Additionally, the primary technology support group for the Department and General Assembly fall under this office. Services of Information Systems include design, development, maintenance, telecommunications, and support of custom legislative systems such as legislative bill drafting, bill status, and chamber automation.
Office of Policy Analysis
In the Office of Policy Analysis (OPA), staff works in one of three functional areas: Fiscal and Policy Analysis, Legislation and Committee Staffing, or Library and Information Services. Fiscal and Policy Analysis staff works in the areas of budget and fiscal review and analysis. Staff also prepares an estimate of the cost of every bill introduced during the legislative session. The area of Legislation includes legislative and amendment drafting, statutory revision, and legal review and analysis. Committee Staff comprises staff that provides professional services to all legislative committees, subcommittees, commissions, and task forces. Library and Information Services serves the legislature, staff, and the public through the operation of the legislative library and the provision of public information services about legislative activities.
- In addition to their functional responsibilities, OPA staff works in policy-related groups that operate during the legislative interim to review and analyze issues in subject areas such as business, technology, and economic development; courts and civil matters; criminal justice and public safety; education; fiscal planning; health; human services; intergovernmental matters; legal matters; natural resources, environment, and transportation; program review and special projects; public administration; and taxes and revenues. The primary purpose of the work groups is to foster the development of subject-area expertise in order to support the multidisciplinary research needs of the committees during the interim and to answer legislative inquiries.
- Additionally, the office maintains an active publication program to fulfill its statutory charge to conduct general research studies, develop options, make recommendations, and report to the General Assembly on various fiscal and policy matters.
Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability
At the direction of the Joint Audit and Evaluation Committee, the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPE) conducts evaluations of governmental activities and/or units. OPE evaluates the efficiency, effectiveness, and economy with which resources are used; determines whether desired program results are achieved; determines whether a program aligns with the unit’s mission; evaluates whether a program duplicates another program or activity within another unit; evaluates whether the governmental activity or unit operates in an open, accountable, fair, and non-discriminatory manner; and determines the reliability of specified performance measures.
Office of Legislative Audits
OLA conducts audits and evaluations of Maryland State government agencies and local school systems. OLA is a unit within the Department of Legislative Services, which provides staff support for the Maryland General Assembly.