Departments are governed by the elected governors (until 2010, prefects; and until 2005, appointed by the President) and by independently elected Departmental Legislative Assemblies (until 2010; Departmental Councils).
Bolivia's nine departments received greater autonomy under the Administrative Decentralization law of 1995. Departmental autonomy further increased with the first popular elections for departmental governors, known as prefects, on 18 December 2005. Four departments (Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija) voted for greater autonomy in 2005, and without constitutional authorization, passed statutes of autonomy in 2008. The remaining five departments approved departmental autonomy in the general elections of 2009.