He joined the Parliamentarian's office in 1966. He was named Parliamentarian of the United States Senate in 1981 and remained in this position until he was dismissed by Democratic Majority Leader Robert Byrd in 1987 after the Democratic Party obtained a majority and control of the senate.
He served on the staff of Senator Robert Dole from 1987 until 1995, when he was again appointed Parliamentarian of the United States Senate. In 2001, he determined that Senate rules allow only one budget bill per year related to revenue to be immune from filibuster. Provisions in a reconciliation bill, one provided for in section 310 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, may be deleted because the Parliamentarian may find it only has policy implications and no budgetary implications, and hence be subject to a point of order. In 2001, Dove ruled to remove a Republican provision to allocate over $5 billion in the 2002 budget for natural disasters. Following Republican anger about these rulings, he was dismissed by Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott.  Both times Dove was dismissed, he was replaced by Alan Frumin.
He has served as a parliamentary consultant to a number of foreign legislatures, including the State Duma of Russia, the National Assembly of Bulgaria, the Assembly of Representatives of Yemen, the National Assembly of Kuwait, and the Parliament of Poland.
- Newton-Small, Jay (March 3, 2010). "Health Reform's Reconciliation Ref". Time.
- Rosenbaum, David E. (May 8, 2001). "Rules Keeper Is Dismissed By Senate, Official Says". The New York Times.
- Faler, Brian (August 12, 2009). "Alan Frumin May Rise From Obscurity to Craft Senate Health Bill". Bloomberg LP.
- Marshall, Joshua Micah (May 9, 2001). "Wanted: A Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy". Slate.
- "Faculty Biography: Robert Dove". The Graduate School of Political Management. The George Washington University.
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