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Section 3: Executive Departments and the Cabinet pp. 153-161. Chapter 6: The Executive Branch. Reading Focus. The duties of the executive branch of the federal government has grown since its birth.

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Chapter 6: The Executive Branch

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section 3 executive departments and the cabinet pp 153 161
Section 3:

Executive Departments and the Cabinet

pp. 153-161

Chapter 6:The Executive Branch

reading focus
Reading Focus
  • The duties of the executive branch of the federal government has grown since its birth.
  • The President used a few assistants at first but now uses thousands of people to assist him/her in running the government.
executive office of the president
Executive Office of the President
  • The President’s closest advisers and aides are part of the Executive Office of the President. It was established in 1939.
  • These people advise the president
    • Council of Economic Advisers: help inform about the economy.
    • Office of Management and Budget: help prepare a federal budget (income and spending).
    • National Security Council: top advisers on all matters involving defense and security.

Office of National Drug Control Policy: try to stop the use of illegal drugs.

    • Council of Environmental Quality: monitors the environment.
  • Besides these advisers, the office also includes researches, clerical stuff, social secretaries, and the president’s doctor.
  • These people are important to the president. Write speeches, make the schedule, represent the president in the media, help maintain good relations, etc.
executive departments
Executive Departments
  • The Constitution makes no mention of the president’s assistants except that “he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments.”
  • There are 15 Executive Departments in the federal government (pg. 158).
  • Congress has the power to establish executive departments, to reorganize and combine different departments, or even eliminate a department.
  • The President advises Congress on this and has the power to direct the executive departments.
the cabinet
The Cabinet
  • George Washington had the help of only 5 executive departments. He met with them regularly and became known as his cabinet.
  • The Cabinet consists of the 15 heads of the executive departments and any other officials the president chooses. This is usually the VP, and the president leads these meetings.
  • The President appoints the members of the cabinet and the Senate must approve them with a majority vote. Most of the cabinet members carry the title, secretary (except the head of the Department of Justice is known as the attorney general).
department of state
Department of State
  • Foreign policy is the special responsibility of this department. The Secretary of State controls many officials who work abroad and represent the US.
  • Ambassadors are the highest ranking US rep’s in foreign countries. The official residence and offices of an ambassador in a foreign country are called an embassy.
  • In smaller countries, ministers, or diplomatic ministers (below ambassadors) represent the US.

Consuls represent the US commercial interests in foreign countries. A US consul’s office, or consulate, can be found in most large foreign cities.

  • Try to promote foreign trade with the US
  • Protect US citizens who conduct business and own property in foreign countries.
  • Department of State is the keeper of the Great Seal of the US. This is put on all laws and treaties.
  • It issues passports and visas (passports are formal documents that allow US citizens to travel abroad and visas allow foreigners to come to the US).
department of the treasury
Department of the Treasury
  • Manages the country’s money.
  • It collects taxes from citizens and businesses and pays out the money owed by the federal government.
  • It borrows money for the government, coins and prints money, and keeps the president informed about the economic condition of the country.
    • One division of this is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) who collects income taxes
    • Custom Service collects taxes on goods brought into the country.
    • The Secret Service protects the president and helps prevent counterfeiting (fake money).
department of defense
Department of Defense
  • In 1947, Congress placed the army, navy, and air force under this department.
  • The department’s head is always a civilian (nonmilitary person) but has many military officers advising him/her.
  • Army: commands land forces
  • Navy: commands seagoing forces (supervises the Coast Guard during times of war)
  • Air Force: responsible for air defense
  • US Marine Corps: first in to battle
  • All led by civilian secretaries.

The highest ranking military officers of the army, navy, and air force form the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They advise the president.

  • Head of Marines is not an official member, but attends all meetings and advises also
  • The department runs 4 officer training schools (US Military Academy at West Point, US Naval Academy at Annaplis, US Air Force Academy, and the US Coast Guard Academy).
  • Must be nominated to attend by a district representative or a senator
  • Successful candidate receive a free 4 year college education and upon graduation becomes an officer in one of the military services. Since 1976, women have been admitted into all service academies.
department of justice
Department of Justice
  • Led by the attorney general, enforces laws.
  • It defends the US in court when a lawsuit is brought against the federal government.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is an important agency within. It investigates crimes in which federal government laws are broken and arrests those accused of crimes against the US.
  • The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Federal Bureau of Prisons are also agencies in this department.
department of the interior
Department of the Interior
  • Manages the nation’s natural resources.
  • It encourages the wise use of land, minerals, water, fish, and wildlife.
  • Also manages national parks and federal dams
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs handles matters involving American Indians.
  • Bureau of Reclamation sponsors irrigation, food control, and hydroelectric power projects
  • Also National Park Service, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
department of agriculture
Department of Agriculture
  • Helps farmers raise and market crops.
  • Includes the Agricultural Research Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service which encourage better farming methods.
  • Also prepares reports on market conditions for crops and livestock to assist in planning.
  • Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides loans for buying and operating farms.
  • USDA Forest Service helps protect the nation’s woodlands.
  • Food and Nutrition Service manages the Food Stamp and National School Lunch programs.
department of commerce
Department of Commerce
  • Encourages American trade and business.
  • An agency is the Bureau of Economic Analysis that studies business conditions in the US.
  • Minority Business Development Agency assists in creating and strengthening minority owned businesses.
  • Patent and Trademark Office protects the rights of inventors.
  • International Trade Administration promotes world trade.
  • US Census Bureau which counts the population every 10 years
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration monitors and forecasts the country’s weather.
department of labor
Department of Labor
  • Gathers information on working conditions in various businesses and industries.
  • Employment Standards Administration is responsible for carrying out federal laws that regulate the wages and hours of workers (also tries to improve working conditions).
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics collects information about and reports on employment and labor-management relations.
  • Women’s Bureau is responsible for promoting the employment opportunities and personal well-being of working women.
other executive departments
Other Executive Departments
  • Health and Human Services:
    • Runs programs to promote the health and well-being of all citizens.
    • Created out of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and its largest division, Social Security Administration is now independent.
  • Housing and Urban Development (HUD):
    • Seeks to improve housing conditions in US cities.
    • Runs programs to help people buy homes, and it helps city and state governments provide public housing and improve neighborhoods.


    • Helps coordinate and develop the country’s ground, water, and air transportation systems.
    • Promotes public safety and deals with mass transportation issues.
    • Coast Guard is part of this during peace times.
  • Energy:
    • Helps plan and manage US energy policy.
    • Tries to lessen the amount of energy that is wasted in the US.
    • Responsible for enforcing energy laws.
    • Regulates the development and use of nuclear and hydroelectric power, gas, and oil pipelines and other energy resources.


    • Provides advice and information to the country’s school systems.
    • Responsible for distributing federal funds and administering federal school programs.
  • Veterans Affairs:
    • Replaced the Veterans Admin (VA)
    • Responsible for administering government benefits to US veterans and their families (health care, pensions, and education loans).

Homeland Security:

    • Created in 2002.
    • It was created in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US.
    • The primary responsibilities of protecting the territory of the United States and protectorates from and responding to terrorist attacks, man-made accidents, and natural disasters.