United States federal executive departments

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The United States federal executive departments are the principal units of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States. They are analogous to ministries common in parliamentary or semi-presidential systems but (the United States being a presidential system) they are led by a head of government who is also the head of state. The executive departments are the administrative arms of the President of the United States. There are currently 15 executive departments.

Overview[edit]

Structure[edit]

Each department is headed by a secretary of their respective department, with the exception of the Department of Justice, whose head is known as the attorney general. The heads of the executive departments are appointed by the president and take office after confirmation by the United States Senate, and serve at the pleasure of the president. The heads of departments are members of the Cabinet of the United States, an executive organ that normally acts as an advisory body to the president. In the Opinion Clause (Article II, section 2, clause 1) of the U.S. Constitution, heads of executive departments are referred to as "principal Officer in each of the executive Departments".

The heads of executive departments are included in the line of succession to the president, in the event of a vacancy in the presidency, after the vice president, the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate.

Separation of powers[edit]

To enforce a strong separation of powers, the federal Constitution's Ineligibility Clause expressly prohibits executive branch employees (including heads of executive departments) from simultaneously serving in Congress, and vice versa. Accordingly, in sharp contrast to virtually all other Western democracies (parliamentary systems) where ministers are selected to form a government from members of parliament,[1] American legislators who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate to serve as heads of executive departments must resign from Congress before assuming their new positions.[2] If the emoluments for a new appointee's executive branch position were increased while the appointee was previously serving in Congress (e.g., cost of living adjustments), the president must implement a Saxbe fix.

Supervisory role[edit]

As is evident from the chart below, several executive departments (Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation) have disproportionately small employee headcounts in contrast to the size of their budgets. This is because many of their employees merely supervise contracts with private independent contractors or grants (especially categorical grants) to state or local government agencies who are primarily responsible for providing services directly to the general public. In the 20th century, when the federal government began to provide funding and supervision for matters which were historically seen as the domain of state governments (i.e., education, health and welfare services, housing, and transportation), Congress frequently authorized only funding for grants which were voluntary in the sense that state or local government agencies could choose to apply for such grants (and accept conditions attached by Congress), or they could decline to apply.[3] In the case of HHS's Medicare program, Congress chose to contract with private health insurers because they "already possessed the requisite expertise for administering complex health insurance programs", and because American hospitals preferred to continue dealing with private insurers instead of a new federal bureaucracy.[4]

Current departments[edit]

Department Formed Employees Annual budget Head
Title Titleholder
State July 27, 1789 69,000
13,000 Foreign Service
11,000 Civil Service
45,000 local
$52.505 billion
(2020)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Treasury September 2, 1789 86,049
(2014)
$16.55 billion
(2021)
Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen
Defense September 18, 1947 2.86 million $716 billion
(2021)
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
Justice July 1, 1870 113,543
(2012)
$33.2 billion
(2021)
Attorney General Merrick Garland
Interior March 3, 1849 70,003
(2012)
$21.55 billion
(2021)
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland
Agriculture May 15, 1862 105,778
(June 2007)
$151 billion
(2021)
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
Commerce February 14, 1903 43,880
(2011)
$7.89 billion
(2021)
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo
Labor March 4, 1913 17,450
(2014)
$41.7 billion
(2021)
Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh
Health and Human Services April 11, 1953 79,540
(2015)
$1.394 trillion
(2021)
Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra
Housing and Urban Development September 9, 1965 8,416
(2014)
$47.9 billion
(2021)
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge
Transportation April 1, 1967 58,622 $89 billion
(2021)
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
Energy August 4, 1977 12,944
(2014)
$35.36 billion
(2021)
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm
Education October 17, 1979 3,912
(2018)
$72.3 billion
(2021)
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona
Veterans Affairs March 15, 1989 377,805
(2016)
$243.3 billion
(2021)
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough
Homeland Security November 25, 2002 229,000
(2017)
$75.88 billion
(2021)
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas

Former departments[edit]

Department Formed Removed from Cabinet Superseded by Last Cabinet-level head
Title Titleholder
War August 7, 1789 September 18, 1947 Department of the Army
Department of the Air Force
Secretary of War Kenneth Claiborne Royall
Post Office February 20, 1792 July 1, 1971 United States Postal Service Postmaster General Winton M. Blount
Navy April 30, 1798 August 10, 1949 Department of Defense
(as executive department)
became and still is a military department within the Department of Defense
Secretary of the Navy Francis P. Matthews
Commerce and Labor February 14, 1903 March 4, 1913 Department of Commerce
Department of Labor
(The Department of Commerce is considered a continuation of the Department of Commerce and Labor under a new name.)
Secretary of Commerce and Labor Charles Nagel
Army September 18, 1947 August 10, 1949 Department of Defense
(as executive department)
became and still are military departments within the Department of Defense
Secretary of the Army Gordon Gray
Air Force Secretary of the Air Force Stuart Symington
Health, Education, and Welfare April 11, 1953 October 17, 1979 Department of Education
Department of Health and Human Services
(The Department of Health and Human Services is considered a continuation of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare under a new name.)
Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Patricia Roberts Harris

Proposed departments[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Wexler, Jay (2011). The Odd Clauses: Understanding the Constitution Through Ten of Its Most Curious Provisions. Boston: Beacon Press. p. 17. ISBN 9780807000892. Retrieved December 24, 2022.
  2. ^ Wexler, Jay (2011). The Odd Clauses: Understanding the Constitution Through Ten of Its Most Curious Provisions. Boston: Beacon Press. p. 11. ISBN 9780807000892. Retrieved December 24, 2022.
  3. ^ Federal Grants to State and Local Governments: A Historical Perspective on Contemporary Issues (PDF). Washington: Congressional Research Service. May 22, 2019. pp. 15–26. Retrieved December 24, 2022. CRS Report No. R40638. Version 27.
  4. ^ Kinney, Eleanor D. (2015). The Affordable Care Act and Medicare in Comparative Context. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 25. ISBN 9781316352618. Retrieved December 24, 2022.
  5. ^ "A Department of Commerce". The New York Times. 1881-05-13.
  6. ^ Improving Management and Organization in Federal Natural Resources and Environmental Functions: Hearing Before the Committee on Governmental Affairs, U. S. Senate. Diane Publishing. April 1, 1998. ISBN 9780788148743. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved February 20, 2017 – via Google Books. Chairman Stevens. Thank you very much. I think both of you are really pointing in the same direction as this Committee. I do hope we can keep it on a bipartisan basis. Mr. Dean, when I was at the Interior Department, I drafted Eisenhower's Department of Natural Resources proposal, and we have had a series of them that have been presented.
  7. ^ a b c "116 - Special Message to the Congress on Executive Branch Reorganization". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017. The administration is today transmitting to the Congress four bills which, if enacted, would replace seven of the present executive departments and several other agencies with four new departments: the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Community Development, the Department of Human Resources and the Department of Economic Affairs.
  8. ^ "Republican Party Platform of 1976". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project. August 18, 1976. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
  9. ^ Thrush, Glenn (November 8, 2013). "Locked in the Cabinet". Politico. Archived from the original on November 17, 2013. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
  10. ^ Schuman, Frederick L. (1969). Why a Department of Peace. Beverly Hills: Another Mother for Peace. p. 56. OCLC 339785.
  11. ^ "History of Legislation to Create a Dept. of Peace". Archived from the original on 2006-07-20.
  12. ^ a b c "10 - Summary of the Report of the Committee on Administrative Management". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on February 13, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017. Overhaul the more than 100 separate departments, boards, commissions, administrations, authorities, corporations, committees, agencies and activities which are now parts of the Executive Branch, and theoretically under the President, and consolidate them within twelve regular departments, which would include the existing ten departments and two new departments, a Department of Social Welfare, and a Department of Public Works. Change the name of the Department of Interior to Department of Conservation.
  13. ^ "23 - Special Message to the Congress Transmitting Reorganization Plan 1 of 1962". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  14. ^ "121 - Special Message to the Congress: The Quality of American Government". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017. In my State of the Union Address, and later in my Budget and Economic Messages to the Congress, I proposed the creation of a new Department of Business and Labor.
  15. ^ "33 - Special Message to the Congress on Rural Development". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  16. ^ "116 - Special Message to the Congress on Executive Branch Reorganization". The University of California, Santa Barbara - The American Presidency Project. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. Retrieved February 13, 2017. The new Department of Economic Affairs would include many of the offices that are now within the Departments of Commerce, Labor and Agriculture. A large part of the Department of Transportation would also be relocated here, including the United States Coast Guard, the Federal Railroad Administration, the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Transportation Systems Center, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Motor Carrier Safety Bureau and most of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Small Business Administration, the Science Information Exchange program from the Smithsonian Institution, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and the Office of Technology Utilization from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration would also be included in the new Department.
  17. ^ "Public Notes on 02-RMSP3". Archived from the original on June 13, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  18. ^ "A Conversation with Michael McConnell". Council on Foreign Relations (Federal News Service, rush transcript). June 29, 2007. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  19. ^ "Time for a Cabinet-Level U.S. Department of Global Development". The Center for Global Development. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  20. ^ Clarke, Jr., John (January 16, 2009). "Quincy Jones Lobbies Obama for Secretary of Culture Post". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 8, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2010.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ "President Obama Announces proposal to reform, reorganize and consolidate Government". whitehouse.gov. Archived from the original on February 11, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2017 – via National Archives.
  22. ^ "Obama Suggests 'Secretary of Business' in a 2nd Term - Washington Wire - WSJ". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on March 1, 2017. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  23. ^ "Burr Cuts Wasteful Spending, Improves Efficiency by Combining Dept. of Labor and Commerce | U.S. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina". www.burr.senate.gov. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 2019-07-12.
  24. ^ "S.1116: Actions & Votes". Retrieved November 10, 2011.
  25. ^ "White House Proposes Merging Education And Labor Departments". NPR.org. Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  26. ^ "Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century | Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations" (PDF). whitehouse.gov. 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 12, 2019.
  27. ^ Warren, Team (2019-06-04). "A Plan For Economic Patriotism". Medium. Archived from the original on July 31, 2019. Retrieved 2019-07-30.
  28. ^ "Regulate AI and other Emerging Technologies". Andrew Yang for President. Archived from the original on August 20, 2019. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  29. ^ "U.S. Department of Children and Youth "The Whole Child Plan"". Marianne Williamson for President. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  30. ^ Garber, Megan (2013-07-01). "Should the U.S. Have a Secretary of Culture?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2021-01-22.
  31. ^ "Hey Joe – appoint a culture secretary". theweek.com. 2020-11-16. Retrieved 2021-01-22.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]