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United States federal executive departments

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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.

The heads of the executive departments receive the title of Secretary of their respective department, except for the Attorney-General who is head of the Justice Department (and the Postmaster General who until 1971 was head of the Post Office Department). 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.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ The American President's Cabinet Explained
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I'm Mr. Beat I’m not the President of the United States. This dude is. He makes up the executive branch of the American government, the branch that carries out, or enforces laws made by the legislative branch and laws interpreted by the judicial branch. But it’s not just him, it’s his Vice President, who is currently this dude. But it’s just not these two dudes. In fact, there is a huge team working with them. It’s commonly referred to as “The Cabinet.” In this video, I will explain the history and purpose of the Cabinet. So let’s start with the Constitution. Article II, Section 2 says the President gets some help- he or she doesn’t have to do job alone. The Cabinet’s official role is to give the President advice based on their expertise. The Constitution actually doesn’t say anything explicitly about a Cabinet. The word “cabinet” comes from the Italian word “cabinetto,” which means a small, private room. You know, a place to talk about important stuff without interruptions. The first President to use the term was James Madison, who called his meetings “the President’s cabinet.” Over the years, as the country has grown, the Cabinet has grown. George Washington, the First President and still my favorite one by the way, held the first cabinet meeting on February 25, 1793. He had just four Department Heads there. His Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of War, Henry Knox, and Attorney General Edmund Randolph. Yeah, Jefferson and Hamilton spent much of the meeting fighting over the creation of a national bank. Today the meetings are bigger. The Cabinet officially includes the heads of 15 executive departments. So what the heck are these Cabinet members in charge of? Well... a lot. The Secretary of State, who currently is Rex Tillerson, mostly deals with foreign policy. Tillerson presides over the State Department, which employs around 69,000 people and has a 2017 budget of over $50 billion. The Secretary of the Treasury, who is currently Steven Mnuchin, is the President’s chief economic advisor, although the position used to oversee federal law enforcement agencies until 2003. The Department of the Treasury employs over 86,000 people and has a 2017 budget of over $13.3 billion. The Secretary of War is now called the Secretary of Defense. I guess that sounds less aggressive and more like “we’re all about peace and love man!” Anyway, that changed in 1947. The Secretary of Defense, who is currently James Mattis, is in charge of...well, you know, defense. More specifically, command and control and the carrying out of missions. The Department of Defense is the largest department BY FAR. It employs over 4 million people and its 2017 budget is over $582.7 billion. The Attorney General, currently Jeff Sessions, is the chief law enforcement officer and highest lawyer of the federal government. Sessions heads the Department of Justice, which employs over 113,000 people and its 2017 budget is over $29 billion. The U.S. created the Department of the Interior on March 3, 1849. Today, the Secretary of the Interior is Ryan Zinke. He and his department are responsible for maintaining and conserving most federal land and natural resources, and currently employs over 70,000 people, with an annual budget in 2017 of $13.4 billion. On May 15, 1862, Abraham Lincoln created what is today called the Department of Agriculture. Today, the Secretary of Agriculture is Sonny Perdue, and he and his department are responsible for carrying out federal laws related to farming, agriculture, forestry, and food. Hey I like food. The department has around 106,000 employees and its 2017 budget is over $151 billion. On Valentine’s Day, 1903, the U.S. created what is today called the Department of Commerce, which is all about looking for ways to grow the American economy. Today, it’s led by the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross. His department employs around 44,000 people and has an its 2017 budget is $9.8 billion. On March 5, 1913, the last day of his Presidency, William Howard Taft created the Department of Labor, which is all about finding ways to help workers, those seeking work, and those seeking a way OUT of work. Headed by the Secretary of Labor, who today is Alex Acosta, the department employs more than 17,000 people and its 2017 budget is over $12.8 billion. In 1933, Frances Perkins became the Secretary of Labor and the first woman to ever serve in the Cabinet. The U.S. established the Federal Security Agency on July 1, 1939. That morphed into the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare on April 11, 1953. But today? It’s called the Department of Health and Human Services, currently headed by Eric Hargan. The department promotes policy that focuses on the health of Americans, and recently gained a lot of power after Obamacare went into effect. It currently employs around 80,000 people and its 2017 budget is $1.2 billion. On September 9, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson created the Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of his Great Society initiative. It’s mission is to help Americans get quality, affordable housing, but it also used to coordinate disaster response across the country. Currently headed by Ben Carson, the department employs over 8,400 people and its 2017 budget is over $60 billion. Congress created the Department of Transportation on October 15, 1966 to help provide the country with a safe and efficient transportation network. Currently headed by Elaine Chao, the department employs over 58,000 people and its 2017 budget is over $98.1 billion. (Rick Perry clip) Well, he couldn’t remember the department, but I bet he remembers it now. He’s currently in charge of it. This dude is Rick Perry, the Secretary of Energy and head of the Department of Energy, which is in charge of the country’s nuclear weapons program and nuclear reaction production for the Navy. It also aids the country’s energy needs, whether it be through energy conservation or research or waste disposal. The U.S. founded the department on August 4, 1977. Its 2017 budget was over $32 billion and it employees more than 106,000 people. The U.S. created the Department of Education on October 17, 1979. Currently headed by Betsy DeVos, its main purpose manage and coordinate federal assistance to education, but it also collects data on the country’s schools and enforces federal educational laws. It employs more than 4400 people and its 2017 budget is more than $209 billion. Yeah, that’s a lot of student loans and grants. While the U.S. has provided benefits to its veterans dating back to the Revolutionary War, it didn’t create what’s now called the Department of Veterans Affairs until 1930, and didn’t become Cabinet level until 1989. The current Secretary of Veterans Affairs is David Shulkin, and the department’s main job is to provide essential services to American veterans. Its 2017 budget is more than $182 billion and it employs more than 377,000 people. And last but certainly not least is the Department of Homeland Security, created in the aftermath of 9/11 on November 25th, 2002. Sure, it’s all about keeping America safe, but more specifically their focus is anti-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, cyber security, and disaster prevention and response after taking on FEMA. The newest Cabinet department, it is also the third largest, with a 2017 budget of more than $40.6 billion and over 240,000 employees. The current Secretary of Homeland Security is Kirstjen Nielsen, pending Senate approval, that is. All 15 Department Heads are in the line of succession, meaning that if the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, and the President por tempore of the U.S. Senate all died, these folks would be next up to take the President’s spot. That’s why Kiefer Sutherland became President that one time, even though he was just the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Wait a second, was that real life? Nooo, yeah I’m pretty sure that’s just a TV show, come to think of it. The President nominates the department heads and presents them to the Senate to be approved by a simple majority, aka 51 of the 100 Senators approve. The Vice President doesn’t need Senate approval, as he or she is elected, but neither does the White House Chief of Staff, who is basically the President’s personal assistant. Because the Chief of Staff manages the President’s schedule and manages the White House staff, her or she is often seen as a gatekeeper of sorts. The Chief of Staff actually isn’t technically a part of the Cabinet, though. He or she is what we call a Cabinet-level official. Cabinet-level officials attend Cabinet meetings but are not official Cabinet members. It includes the Trade Representative, Director of National Intelligence, Ambassador to the United Nations, the OMB Director, the CIA Director, the EPA Administrator, and SBA Administrator. ("The Apprentice" clip) Cabinet members, except the Vice President, can be fired by the President fairly easily. Yeah, the current President probably has made that quite evident. All Cabinet members are subject to impeachment by the House of Representatives if they act up. Now here’s the thing. I haven’t even got to the individual federal agencies that both fall under the umbrella of the departments or are independent agencies. You know, like the FBI, CIA, Federal Trade Commission, Social Security Administration, National Park Service, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, NASA, and many others I am sure you have heard of. For the most part, they all are part of the executive branch as well. How many federal agencies are there? Well, I had a really hard time figuring this out. I honestly don’t think anyone really knows. There might be 430, according to one source I found, or there might just be 115, according to the Administrative Conference of the United States, which recently printed “There is no authoritative list of government agencies.” We do know that there are approximately 4 million people who work for the federal government. Probably...maybe? That number is not for sure either. There’s also all the state and local workers who get federal aid, not to mention the millions of contractors who work for the federal government. The bottom line is, the executive branch is HUGE. When I see diagrams in government textbooks like this one, I sort of chuckle. That's ridiculous. It's not just the President and his Cabinet. We're talking about a huge team of people working underneath them Millions of employees Hundreds of billions of dollars The Cabinet has a lot of power and they do a lot to help run this country. They are a force to be reckoned with. Thanks to Ian for suggesting that I make a video about the President’s Cabinet. He is a long-time and loyal supporter of my channel on Patreon and he’s also just a really smart young man who gives me hope for the future. So thanks to him and thanks to you for watching. I’ll see you next Friday.


Current departments

Seal Department Formed Employees Annual budget Head
Portrait Name
and title
U.S. Department of State official seal.svg
State July 27, 1789 13,000 Foreign Service
11,000 Civil Service
45,000 local
$90.3 billion
Mike Pompeo official photo (cropped).jpg
Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
Seal of the United States Department of the Treasury.svg
Treasury September 2, 1789 86,049 (2014) $14 billion
Steven Mnuchin official photo (cropped).jpg
Steven Mnuchin
Secretary of the Treasury
United States Department of Defense Seal.svg
Defense September 18, 1947 2.86 million $717 billion
Patrick M. Shanahan official portrait (cropped).jpg
Patrick M. Shanahan
Secretary of Defense
Seal of the United States Department of Justice.svg
Justice July 1, 1870 113,543 (2012) $31 billion
William Barr (cropped).jpg
William Barr
Attorney General
Seal of the United States Department of the Interior.svg
Interior March 3, 1849 70,003 (2012) $20.7 billion
David Bernhardt official photo (cropped).jpg
David Bernhardt
Secretary of the Interior
Seal of the United States Department of Agriculture.svg
Agriculture May 15, 1862 105,778 (June 2007) $151 billion
Sonny Perdue headshot.jpg
Sonny Perdue
Secretary of Agriculture
Seal of the United States Department of Commerce.svg
Commerce February 14, 1903 43,880 (2011) $8.6 billion
Wilbur Ross headshot.jpg
Wilbur Ross
Secretary of Commerce
Seal of the United States Department of Labor.svg
Labor March 4, 1913 17,450 (2014) $12.1 billion
Alexander Acosta headshot.jpg
Alexander Acosta
Secretary of Labor
Seal of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.svg
Health and Human Services April 11, 1953 79,540 (2015) $1 020 billion


Alex Azar official portrait 2 (cropped).jpg
Alex Azar
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Seal of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.svg
Housing and Urban Development September 9, 1965 8,416 (2014) $32.6 billion
Ben Carson headshot.jpg
Ben Carson
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Seal of the United States Department of Transportation.svg
Transportation April 1, 1967 58,622 $72.4 billion
Elaine Chao official portrait 2 (cropped).jpg
Elaine Chao
Secretary of Transportation
Seal of the United States Department of Energy.svg
Energy August 4, 1977 12,944 (2014) $27.9 billion
Rick Perry official portrait (cropped).jpg
Rick Perry
Secretary of Energy
Seal of the United States Department of Education.svg
Education October 17, 1979 3912 (2018) $68 billion
Betsy DeVos official portrait (cropped).jpg
Betsy DeVos
Secretary of Education
Seal of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.svg
Veterans Affairs 21 July 1930 377,805 (2016) $180 billion
Robert Wilkie official portrait (cropped).jpg
Robert Wilkie
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security.svg
Homeland Security November 25, 2002 229,000 (2017) $40.6 billion
Kirstjen Nielsen official photo (cropped).jpg
Kirstjen Nielsen
Secretary of Homeland Security

Former departments

Seal Department Formed Abolished Superseded by Last head
Portrait Name
and title
Seal of the United States Department of War.png
War August 7, 1789 September 18, 1947 Department of the Army
Department of the Air Force
KCR portrait.jpg
Kenneth C. Royall
Secretary of War
Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg
Army September 18, 1947 August 10, 1949 Department of Defense
(as executive department)
becomes military department
Gordon Gray - Project Gutenberg etext 20587.jpg
Gordon Gray
Secretary of the Army
Seal of the United States Department of the Air Force.svg
Air Force
Portrait of W. Stuart Symington 97-1844.jpg
W. Stuart Symington
Secretary of the Air Force
Seal of the United States Department of the Navy (1879-1957).png
Navy April 30, 1798
Francis P. Matthews.jpg
Francis P. Matthews
Secretary of the Navy
Seal of the United States Department of the Post Office.svg
Post Office February 20, 1792 July 1, 1971 Postal Service
Winton M. Blount.jpg
Winton M. Blount
Postmaster General

See also



This page was last edited on 1 April 2019, at 21:26
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