White House Office of the Staff Secretary

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The Staff Secretary ("Staff Sec") is a position in the White House Office responsible for managing paper flow to the President and circulating documents among senior staff for comment.

Joani Walsh is the current Staff Secretary in the Administration of President Barack Obama, she was appointed to the position in early 2014. She previously served as an Assistant Staff Secretary earlier in the administration.

The Office of the Staff Secretary, along with it's sub-offices -- the Office of the Executive Clerk, the Office of Records Management, and the Office of Presidential Correspondence -- is the largest of the White House Offices.[1]


The Office of the Staff Secretary has been referred to as "the nerve center of the White House."

Due to the high volume of important memos, meetings and decisions generated for the President's attention, the Staff Secretary is tasked with deciding which papers should go to the President's desk -- and when the paper should be sent to him. These documents range from presidential decision memos and bills passed by Congress to drafts of speeches and samples of correspondence.[2]

The Staff Secretary's principal role is to review the incoming papers and determine which issues must reach the President. Secondary to this, Staff Sec determines who else in the administration should comment on the issue to give the President a full picture of the situation. Staff Sec then compiles the documents with the relevant commentary for the President's consumption.[2]

Traditionally, the Staff Secretary is a position of great trust due to the influence it can wield over which memos are allowed to reach the President, and who is given the opportunity to comment on those issues.


The position was established under President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953, one of the recommendations of the Hoover Commission (Commission on the Organization of the Executive Branch). Under Eisenhower, the first staff secretaries focused particularly on screening national security communications; in this role, Colonel Andrew J. Goodpaster was thought to overshadow the President's special assistant for national security.[3]

Holders of the Office (incomplete list)[edit]

Obama Administration[edit]

  • (2014–Present) Joani Walsh as Deputy Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary
  • (2012–2013) Douglas Kramer as Deputy Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary
  • (2011–2012) Rajesh De as Deputy Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary
  • (2009–2011) Lisa Brown as Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary

Bush (43) Administration[edit]

  • (2006–2009) Raul F. Yanes as Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary
  • (2003–2006) Brett M. Kavanaugh as Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary
  • (2001–2003) Harriet Miers as Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary

Clinton Administration[edit]

Bush (41) Administration[edit]

Reagan Administration[edit]

  • (1985–1988) David L. Chew
  • (1981–1985) Richard Darman as Assistant to the President, Deputy to the Chief of Staff, and Staff Secretary

Carter Administration[edit]

Ford Administration[edit]

Nixon Administration[edit]

Kennedy Administration[edit]

Eisenhower Administration[edit]


  1. ^ "White House Staff Disclosure 2014". WhiteHouse.gov. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Office of the Staff Secretary". WhiteHouseTransitionProject.org. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  3. ^ Description of creation of staff secretary position

External links[edit]