House Administrative Officers and Officials

House Administrative Officers and Officials
Lorraine H. Tong
Analyst in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
Article I, Section 2 of the U. S. Constitution empowers the House of Representatives
to choose its Speaker and other officers. The Constitution does not specifically identify
the other officers, who currently are the Clerk, Sergeant at Arms, chief administrative
officer, and chaplain. These officers are elected at the beginning of each Congress (Rule
II). Over time, the House has also established offices under the direction of an inspector
general, Parliamentarian, Historian, general counsel, legislative counsel, and law revision
counsel, who are appointed by House leaders. The Architect of the Capitol, an officer of
Congress, is appointed by the President, subject to Senate confirmation. The Speaker
(Rule I) is not included in this report; see CRS Report 97-780, The Speaker of the House:
House Officer, Party Leader, and Representative. For more information on congressional
processes, see [].
Elected by the House
Clerk of the House (Rule II). The Clerk of the House presides over the House
pending the election of the Speaker at the beginning of a new Congress, and certifies the
credentials of newly elected members. The Clerk, as chief legislative officer, directs
administrative activities that support the legislative process such as keeping the Journal,
recording all votes, certifying bill passage, and processing all legislation. Other entities
under the Office of the Clerk deal with employment counsel, legislative operations,
official reporters, printing services, legislative computer systems, and legislative
information. (See CRS Report 98-761, Clerk of the House: Legislative and
Administrative Duties, and [].)
Sergeant at Arms (Rule II). The Sergeant at Arms, as the chief House law
enforcement officer, is responsible for maintaining security, order, and decorum in the
House chamber, House wing of the Capitol, and House office buildings. The Sergeant
at Arms also serves, with the Senate Sergeant at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol,
on the Capitol Police Board and the Capitol Guide Board. (See CRS Report 98-835,
House Sergeant at Arms: Legislative and Administrative Duties.)
Chief Administrative Officer (Rule II). The chief administrative officer (CAO) is
responsible for certain administrative and financial activities that support the operations
of the House, including the finance office, Members’ accounts, information resources,
human resources, office systems management, furniture, office supplies, postal

operations, food services, and various media services. (See CRS Report RS22731, Chief
Administrative Officer of the House: History and Organization.)
Chaplain (Rule II). The chaplain of the House opens each legislative session with
a formal prayer, a custom since the First Congress. The chaplain, who neither represents
nor is selected on the basis of a particular denomination, also provides pastoral counseling
to Members, their families, and staff. Guest chaplains of various denominations regularly
offer the prayer. (See CRS Report RS20427, House and Senate Chaplains, and
[] .)
Jointly Appointed by the Speaker and
Majority and Minority Leaders
Inspector General (Rule II). The inspector general (IG) conducts periodic audits
of the financial activities of other House officers and reports the findings and
recommendations simultaneously to the Speaker, the majority and minority leaders, and
the chair and ranking member of the Committee on House Administration
[]. If possible violations of law or House rules are indicated, the
IG is required to report them to appropriate House officers and committees, including the
Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
Appointed by the Speaker
Parliamentarian (Rule II). The House Parliamentarian provides advice on
parliamentary procedure, compiles a record of the precedents of the House, and, acting
in behalf of the Speaker, determines the referral of measures to committees. The
Parliamentarian or an assistant is always present and near the podium during legislative
sessions to offer procedural assistance to the presiding officer. The House Rules and
Manual is revised by the Parliamentarian, who also usually reviews special rules before
the Rules Committee reports them. (See CRS Report RS20544, The Office of the
Parliamentarian in the House and Senate.)
Historian (Rule II). The Historian directs the Office of the Historian, which
researches the history of the House of Representatives and makes historical information
available to Members of Congress, the press, and the public. The office conducts oral
history interviews of Members, former Members, and selected staff; prepares committee
histories; and trains congressional staff on the history of the House. The office has also
initiated a House Fellows Program, an educational institute for secondary education
teachers to further their knowledge and understanding of the House. (See
[] .)
General Counsel (Rule II). The general counsel heads the Office of the General
Counsel, which provides legal advice to Members, committees, officers, and employees
of the House of Representatives on matters pertaining to their official duties, and
represents them in litigation that relates to the performance of those duties (House access
only: [].)
Legislative Counsel. The legislative counsel heads the Office of Legislative
Counsel, which assists Members, committees, and staff in drafting legislation and

preparing conference reports, and, in certain situations, assists Members on the House
floor. See CRS Report RS20735, Office of Legislative Counsel: House, and
[] .
Law Revision Counsel. Under the direction of the law revision counsel, the Office
of the Law Revision Counsel prepares, publishes, and keeps current the United States
Code, a consolidation and codification by subject matter of the general and permanent
laws of the United States [].
Appointed by the President
Architect of the Capitol. As an officer of Congress, the Architect of the Capitol
(AOC) is charged with the operation, maintenance, and improvement of the U.S. Capitol
and adjacent buildings and grounds. The AOC also performs certain administrative
functions affecting the House and Senate. A bicameral congressional advisory
commission conducts a search for an architect, who is then nominated by the President
and confirmed by the Senate for a tenure limited to 10 years. (See CRS Report RL32820,
Architect of the Capitol: Appointment, Duties, and Operations, and