United States federal executive departments
The United States federal executive departments are among the oldest primary units of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States—the Departments of State, War, and the Treasury all having been established within a few weeks of each other in 1789.
Federal executive departments are analogous to ministries common in parliamentary or semi-presidential systems but, with the United States being a presidential system, their heads otherwise equivalent to ministers, do not form a government (in a parliamentary sense) nor are they led by a head of government separate from the head of state. The heads of the federal executive departments, known as secretaries of their respective department, form the traditional Cabinet of the United States, an executive organ that serves at the disposal of the president and normally act as an advisory body to the presidency.
Since 1792, by statutory specification, the cabinet constituted a line of succession, after the Speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate to the presidency in the event of a vacancy in both that office and the vice presidency. The Constitution refers to these officials when it authorizes the President, in Article II, section 2, to "require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices." In brief, they and their organizations are the administrative arms of the President.
Executive Departments of the present
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All departments are listed by their present-day name and only departments with past or present cabinet-level status are listed. Order of succession has always included the Vice President (1) as the first in line; at times – including presently – the Speaker of the House (2) and the President pro tempore of the Senate (3) have also been included.
|State||1789||4||Initially named "Department of Foreign Affairs".||16.39||18,900|
|Justice||1870||7||Position of Attorney General created in 1789, but had no department until 1870||46.20||112,557|
|Commerce||1903||10||Originally named Commerce and Labor; Labor later separated||15.77||43,880|
|Defense||1947||6||Initially named "National Military Establishment" 1947-49. Created as a subsuming—from executive to sub-executive status—of the Departments of The Navy and War (which split into the Departments of the Army and Air Force).||651.16||3,000,000|
|Health and Human Services||1953||12||Originally named Health, Education, and Welfare; Education later separated||879.20||67,000|
|Housing and Urban Development||1965||13||40.53||10,600|
|Veterans Affairs||1989||17||formerly an independent agency as the Veterans Administration||97.70||235,000|
|Total outlays, employees:||$2,311.30B||4,193,144|
Seal of the Department of Agriculture
Seal of the Department of Commerce
Seal of the Department of Defense
Seal of the Department of Education
Seal of the Department of Energy
Seal of the Department of Health and Human Services
Seal of the Department of Homeland Security
Seal of the Department of Housing and Urban Development
Seal of the Department of the Interior
Seal of the Department of Justice
Seal of the Department of Labor
Seal of the Department of State
Seal of the Department of Transportation
Seal of the Department of the Treasury
Seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs
Executive Departments of the past
|Department||Dates of Operation||Notes|
|Department of War||1789–1947||Renamed Department of the Army in 1947|
|Post Office Department||1792–1971||Reorganized as quasi-independent agency, United States Postal Service|
|Department of Commerce and Labor||1903–1913||Divided between Department of Commerce and Department of Labor|
|Department of the Army||1947–1949||From 1947-1949, these departments were executive departments with non-cabinet level secretaries who reported to the civilian Secretary of Defense with cabinet rank but no department. From 1949 on, they were Military Departments within the Department of Defense|
|Department of the Navy||1798–1949|
|Department of the Air Force||1947–1949|
|Department of Health, Education, and Welfare||1953–1979||Divided between Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education|
- Independent agencies of the United States government
- Departments of the United Kingdom Government, a British equivalent to a US federal executive department
- "Office of the Historian - Milestones - 1776-1783 - Articles of Confederation". History.state.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "History". Treasury.gov. 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "USDOJ: About DOJ". Justice.gov. 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "History of Interior". Doi.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "Secretaries | Department of Commerce". Commerce.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "Department of Commerce FY 2009 Budget in Brief". Osec.doc.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "The U.S. Department of Labor Historical Timeline - U.S. Department of Labor". Dol.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "About The Department of Defense (DOD)". Defense.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "HUD History/U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)". Portal.hud.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- [dead link]
- "Department of Energy Organization Act". U.S. Department of the Interior. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Retrieved August 4, 1977.
- "Overview and Mission Statement | U.S. Department of Education". .ed.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Department of Veterans Affairs. "History - VA History - About VA". Va.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "Creation of the Department of Homeland Security | Homeland Security". Dhs.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "Chapter 24: Peace Becomes Cold War, 1945-1950". American Military History. Army Historical Series II. United States Army. 2005. pp. 531–533. Retrieved 2011-03-23. Unknown parameter
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- Relyea, Harold C. "Homeland Security: Department Organization and Management" (PDF), Report for Congress, 2002. RL31493 (August 7, 2002).