White House Office

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White House Office
Agency overview
Formed 1857
Headquarters West Wing of the White House
Employees About 150
Agency executive Denis McDonough, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff
Parent agency Executive Office of the President of the United States
Website White House Office
President Barack Obama (in the foreground, facing away) meeting April 29, 2009 with senior White House staff.
Individuals present (l-r): David Axelrod (Senior Advisor to the President), Jim Messina (Deputy White House Chief of Staff), Peter Rouse (Chief of Staff, as of October 1, 2010), Rahm Emanuel (Chief of Staff), Robert Gibbs (Press Secretary), Phil Schiliro (Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs), Mona Sutphen (Deputy Chief of Staff), Alyssa Mastromonaco (Director of Scheduling and Advance) and Valerie Jarrett (Senior Advisor to the President and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison).

The White House Office is an entity within the Executive Office of the President of the United States. The White House Office is headed by the White House Chief of Staff, who is also the head of the Executive Office.[1] The staff of the various offices are based in the West Wing and East Wing of the White House, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and the New Executive Office Building. It is made up of personal assistants to the president with offices in the White House. These aides oversee the political and policy interests of the president and do not require Senate confirmation for appointment. They can be removed at the discretion of the president (Examples: National Security Adviser, special consultant to the president)


Established in the Executive Office of the President by Reorganization Plan 1 of 1939 and Executive Order 8248 to provide assistance to the President in the performance of his many detailed activities incident to his immediate office. The White House Office is organized in accordance with the wishes of each incumbent President and is directed by staff chosen by the President. A staff authorization was initially established in 1978 (92 Stat. 2445). Some presidential boards, committees, and commissions function organizationally as subunits of the White House Office.[2]

Although still a subunit of the EOP, the White House Office remains the centerpiece of the presidential staff system. In many ways it is closest to the President both in physical proximity, its top aides occupy most of the offices in the West Wing, and in its impact on the day-to-day operations, deliberations, policy agendas, and public communications of a presidency. During the transition to office and continuing throughout an administration, the President enjoys a great deal of discretion in terms of how the White House Office is organized.[1]


Presidents are free to determine what sub offices and functions will be represented in the staff structure. Most White Houses have some set of staffs handling national security, domestic, and economic policy, but their organizations can vary significantly. Most recent White Houses have offices that deal with the cabinet, congressional affairs, political affairs, intergovernmental affairs, and liaison with the public and a variety of constituency groups. There are usually large operations devoted to the media: a press office, a communications office, other media liaison, and the speechwriting staff. There are offices handling scheduling and preparations for when the President physically leaves the White House (the Advance Office), and a large White House personnel office that oversees presidential appointments throughout the government.

The issues that confront the United States at any one time can not be dealt with by the President alone, and therefore he (or she) must draw on the expertise of the staff he has surrounding him. Successfully launching a presidential policy initiative, effectively staging a presidential event, planning and conducting a meeting of world leaders, or delivering a major address to the nation, all require the collective contributions of different parts of the White House staff. For this to happen effectively there must be a few tough, strong offices pulling the pieces together. First and foremost is the Office of the Chief of Staff. The role and duties of a Chief of Staff vary from administration to administration and even within an administration as one chief of staff may differ from a predecessor or successor. While Chiefs of Staff may differ in the degree of policy advice they provide a President, they are at base the managers of the White House staff system. At least in theory, they are the coordinators bringing the pieces together; they are the tone-setters and disciplinarians making for good organizational order, and often act as the gatekeeper for the President, overseeing every person, document and communication that goes to the President.[1]


Office of the First Lady[edit]

Office of Legislative Affairs[edit]

Office of Political Affairs[edit]

Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs[edit]

Office of the White House Counsel[edit]

White House Fellows[edit]

White House Military Office[edit]


  1. ^ a b c John P. Burke. "Administration of the White House". Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. Retrieved June 6, 2009. 
  2. ^ Harold C. Relyea (March 17, 2008). "The Executive Office of the President: An Historical Overview". Congressional Research Service. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  3. ^ Cilizza, Chris. "The Fix- Dunn leaving White House, Pfeiffer takes over". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 2, 2012. 
  4. ^ "President-Elect Barack Obama names two new White House staff members" (Press release). Office of the President-Elect. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  5. ^ "President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama announce more key White House staff" (Press release). Office of the President-Elect. November 24, 2008. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c Executive Office of the President (July 1, 2009). "Annual Report to Congress on White House Office Staff". Retrieved July 7, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Additions to legislative affairs team" (Press release). Office of the President-Elect. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b "President-elect Obama announces more key White House staff" (Press release). Office of President-Elect. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  9. ^ "President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden Announce Key White House Staff" (Press release). Office of the President-Elect. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  10. ^ "President-elect Obama announces more key White House staff" (Press release). Office of the President-Elect. January 20, 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  11. ^ "President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden announce key White House staff" (Press release). Office of the President-Elect. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  12. ^ Slack, Donovan. "More White House staff changes . . .". Politico. 
  13. ^ "Establishing A White House Council On Women And Girls" (Press release). Office of the Press Secretary. March 11, 2009. Retrieved June 5, 2009. 
  14. ^ "President Barack Obama Announces Key White House Posts" (Press release). Office of the Press Secretary. February 19, 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  15. ^ "President Obama Appoints Cindy S. Moelis as the Director for the Presidential Commission on White House Fellows" (Press release). Office of the Press Secretary. April 21, 2009. Retrieved June 7, 2009.