Council of State Governments

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The Council of State Governments (CSG) was established in 1933 as a nonprofit umbrella organization for all state officials. Core responsibilities have been information collection and dissemination, interstate cooperation and problem-solving promotion, trend and emerging issue identification, and state administration and management improvement.

SERVICES

CSG serves all branches of state government. Headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, services include research studies, an information clearinghouse, inquiry responses, innovations reports, suggested legislation, secretariat support, leadership development and training, and conferences. While promoting state sovereignty, CSG does not lobby.

The Council’s “signature” publication is the annual Book of the States, containing statistical compilations and analyses of constitutional amendments; trends in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches; summaries of developments in elections, finances, management, and major policy areas; overviews of federalism and state-local relations; and background information on each state. CSG publishes a monthly magazine, State News; a quarterly on best practices and solutions, Spectrum; an annual volume of Suggested State Legislation; and periodic rosters of state officials.

GOVERNANCE AND FUNDING

CSG is a regionally based national organization. Four regional offices (Atlanta; Sacramento; Lombard, Illinois; and New York City) each support a legislative conference (southern, western, midwestern, and eastern). CSG also supports two regional governors’ associations (southern and midwestern). These offices receive move than half of the Council’s budget to provide regionally focused research, training, technical assistance, and conferences.

CSG’s Governing Board, composed of all governors, two legislators from each state, and constituent organization representatives, meets annually to review programs, activities, and finances. From this group, an Executive Committee of about thirty-five members provides direction and oversight between the annual meetings. Typically a governor is president of CSG’s Governing Board and a legislator is chair of the Executive Committee.

The Council’s chief funding sources are state appropriations, based on population. Other sources include dues assessments for secretariat services to groups of officials such as lieutenant governors, publications sales, and grants from federal agencies and foundations. Since the 1980s, private contributions through a Corporate Associates program have supplemented the Council’s budget.

Beginning in the late 1970s, the governors, legislators, attorneys general, and budget directors chose to establish separate offices in Washington, D.C. They desired dedicated staff, direct access to Washington policy makers and regulators, and a lobbying agenda. Later the auditors, comptrollers, and treasurers and secretaries of state followed suit. To facilitate collaboration and help monitor the status of federal legislation, regulations, and programs, CSG maintains a small Washington office in the Hall of the States.

While a smaller umbrella organization than it was seventy years ago, CSG still plays a valuable role in collecting and disseminating information and insights on best practices, innovations, and solutions to the problems that state officials experience, nationally and regionally. It remains the only organization spanning all three branches of state government.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Council of State Governments, “The Council of State Governments,” in The Book of the States 1984–85 (Lexington, KY: Council of State Governments, 1984); and State Government News 26, no. 12 (December 1983).

Carl W. Stenberg

Last updated: 2006

SEE ALSO: Intergovernmental Lobbying