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What are the functions of us cabinet positions?

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November 21, 2008 6:36AM

The President's Cabinet The purpose of the Cabinet is to advise the President on matters relating to the duties of their respective offices. As the President's closest and most trusted advisors, members of the Cabinet attend weekly meetings with the President. The Constitution does not directly mention a "Cabinet," but the Constitutional authority for a Cabinet is found in Article II, Section 2. The Constitution states that the President "may require the opinion, in writing of the principle officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices." The Constitution does not say which or how many executive departments should be created. Who makes up the Cabinet?

The Cabinet traditionally includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments-the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, and the Attorney General. Cabinet-level rank has also been given to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; the Director of the Office of Management and Budget; the Director of the National Drug Control Policy; the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security; and the U.S. Trade Representative. When requested by the President, other officials are asked to attend these weekly meetings including, the President's Chief of Staff, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, the Counselor to the President, the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Representative to the United Nations. How does one become a member of the Cabinet?

The 15 Secretaries from the executive departments are appointed by the President, and they must be confirmed by a majority vote (51 votes) of the Senate. They cannot be a member of Congress or hold any other elected office. Cabinet appointments are for the duration of the administration, but the President may dismiss any member at any time, without approval of the Senate. In addition, they are expected to resign when a new President takes office. The following is a list of the current heads of the 15 executive department agencies, their department, when that department was created, and a brief description of the department from the United States Government Manual. The list is organized by order of succession. More information about each department can be found in the United States Government Manual on GPO Access. Clicking on the name of the department will take you to that department's Web site. State | Treasury | Defense | Justice | Interior | Agriculture | Commerce | Labor | Health & Human Services

Housing & Urban Development | Transportation | Energy | Education | Veterans Affairs | Homeland Security Secretary of State

Department of State (1789):

The Department of State advises the President in the formulation and execution of foreign policy and promotes the long-range security and well-being of the United States. The Department determines and analyzes the facts relating to American overseas interests, makes recommendations on policy and future action, and takes the necessary steps to carry out established policy. In so doing, the Department engages in continuous consultations with the American public, the Congress, other U.S. departments and agencies, and foreign governments; negotiates treaties and agreements with foreign nations; speaks for the United States in the United Nations and other international organizations in which the United States participates; and represents the United States at international conferences. The Secretary of State is responsible for the overall direction, coordination, and supervision of U.S. foreign relations and for the interdepartmental activities of the U.S. Government abroad. The Secretary is the first-ranking member of the Cabinet, is a member of the National Security Council, and is in charge of the operations of the Department, including the Foreign Service. back to list

Secretary of the Treasury

Department of the Treasury (1789):

The Department of the Treasury performs four basic functions: formulating and recommending economic, financial, tax, and fiscal policies; serving as financial agent for the U.S. Government; enforcing the law; and manufacturing coins and currency. As a major policy adviser to the President, the Secretary of the Treasury has primary responsibility for formulating and recommending domestic and international financial, economic, and tax policy; participating in the formulation of broad fiscal policies that have general significance for the economy; and managing the public debt. The Secretary also oversees the activities of the Department in carrying out its major law enforcement responsibility; in serving as the financial agent for the U.S. Government; and in manufacturing coins, currency, and other products for customer agencies. The Secretary also serves as the Government's chief financial officer. back to list Secretary of Defense

Department of Defense (1947):

The Department of Defense is responsible for providing the military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of our country. The major elements of these forces are the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, consisting of about 1.4 million men and women on active duty. They are backed, in case of emergency, by the 1 million members of the Reserve and National Guard. In addition, there are about 700,000 civilian employees in the Defense Department. Under the President, who is also Commander-in-Chief, the Secretary of

Defense exercises authority, direction, and control over the Department, which includes the separately organized military departments of Army, Navy, and Air Force, the Joint Chiefs of Staff providing military advice, the unified combatant commands, and various defense agencies established for specific purposes. back to list Attorney General

Department of Justice (1870):

As the largest law firm in the Nation, the Department of Justice serves as counsel for its citizens. It represents them in enforcing the law in the public interest. Through its thousands of lawyers, investigators, and agents, the Department plays the key role in protection against criminals and subversion, in ensuring healthy competition of business in our free enterprise system, in safeguarding the consumer, and in enforcing drug, immigration, and naturalization laws. The affairs and activities of the Department of Justice are generally directed by the Attorney General. The Attorney General represents the United States in legal matters generally and gives advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of the executive departments of the Government when so requested. The Attorney General appears in person to represent the Government before the U.S. Supreme Court in cases of exceptional gravity or importance. back to list Secretary of the Interior

Department of the Interior (1849):

The mission of the Department of the Interior is to protect and provide access to our Nation's natural and cultural heritage and honor our trust responsibilities to tribes. The Department manages the Nation's public lands and minerals, national parks, national wildlife refuges, and western water resources and upholds Federal trust responsibilities to Indian tribes. It is responsible for migratory wildlife conservation; historic preservation; endangered species; surface-mined lands

protection and restoration; mapping; and geological, hydrological, and biological science. The Secretary of the Interior reports directly to the President and is responsible for the direction and supervision of all operations and activities of the Department. back to list Secretary of Agriculture

Department of Agriculture (1862):

The Department of Agriculture works to improve and maintain farm income and to develop and expand markets abroad for agricultural products. The Department helps to curb and to cure poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. It works to enhance the environment and to maintain production capacity by helping landowners protect the soil, water, forests, and other natural resources. Rural development, credit, and conservation programs are key resources for carrying out national growth policies. Department research findings directly or indirectly benefit all Americans. The Department, through inspection and grading services, safeguards and ensures standards of quality in the daily food supply. The Secretary of Agriculture reports directly to the President and is responsible for the direction and supervision of all operations and activities of the Department. back to list Secretary of Commerce

Department of Commerce (1903):

The Department of Commerce encourages, serves, and promotes the Nation's international trade, economic growth, and technological advancement. The Department provides a wide variety of programs through the competitive free enterprise system. It offers assistance and information to increase America's competitiveness in the world economy; administers programs to prevent unfair foreign trade competition; provides social and economic statistics and analyses for business and government planners; provides research and support for the increased use of scientific, engineering, and technological development; works to improve our understanding and benefits of the Earth's physical environment and oceanic resources; grants patents and registers trademarks; develops policies and conducts researsch on telecommunications; provides assistance to promote domestic economic development; and assists in the growth of minority businesses. The Secretary of Commerce is responsible for the administration of all functions and authorities assigned to the Department of Commerce and for advising the President on Federal policy and programs affecting the industrial and commercial segments of the national economy. back to list Secretary of Labor

Department of Labor (1913):

The purpose of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment. In carrying out this mission, the Department administers a variety of Federal labor laws guaranteeing workers' rights to safe and healthful working conditions, a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay, freedom from employment discrimination, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation. The department also protects workers' pension rights; provides for job training programs; helps workers find jobs; works to strengthen free collective bargaining; and keeps track of changes in employment, prices, and other national economic measurements. As the Department seeks to assist all Americans who need and want to work, special efforts are made to meet the unique job market problems of older workers, youths, minority group members, women, the handicapped, and other groups. The Secretary of Labor is the principal adviser to the President on the development and execution of policies and the administration and enforcement of laws relating to wage earners, their working conditions, and their employment opportunities. back to list

Secretary of Health & Human Services

Department of Health and Human Services (1953):

The Department of Health and Human Services is the Cabinet-level department of the Federal executive branch most involved with the Nation's human concerns. In one way or another, it touches the lives of more Americans than any other Federal agency. It is literally a department of people serving people, from newborn infants to persons requiring health services to our most elderly citizens. The Secretary of Health and Human Services advises the President on health, welfare, and income security plans, policies, and programs of the Federal Government; and directs Department staff in carrying out the approved programs and activities of the Department and promotes general public understanding of the Department's goals, programs, and objectives. back to list

Secretary of Housing & Development

Department of Housing and Urban Development (1965):

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is the principal Federal agency responsible for programs concerned with the Nation's housing needs, fair housing opportunities, and improvement and development of the Nation's communities. The Department of Houseing and Urban Development was created to: administer the principal programs that provide assistance for housing and for the development of the Nation's communities; encourage the solution of housing and community development problems through States and localities; and encourage the maximum contributions that may be made by vigorous private homebuilding and mortgage lending industries, both primary and secondary, to housing, community development, and the national economy. The Secretary of Housing and Urban Develepment formulates recommendations for basic policies in the fields of housing and community development; encourages private enterprise participation in housing and community development; promotes the growth of cities and States and the efficient and effective use of housing and community and economic development resources by stimulating private sector initiatives, public/private sector partnerships, and public entrepreneurship; ensures equal access to housing and affirmatively prevents discrimination in housing; and provides general oversight for the Federal National Mortgage Association. back to list

Secretary of Transportation

Department of Transportation (1966):

The U.S. Department of Transportation establishes the Nation's overall transportation policy. Under its umbrella there are 10 administrations whose jurisdictions include highway planning, development, and construction; urban mass transit; railroads; aviation; and the safety of waterways, ports, highways, and oil and gas pipelines. Decisions made by the Department in conjunction with the appropriate State and local officials strongly affect other programs such as land planning, energy conservation, scarce resource utilization, and technological change.The Department of Transportation was established ``to assure the coordinated, effective administration of the transportation programs of the Federal Government'' and to develop ``national transportation policies and programs conducive to the provision of fast, safe, efficient, and convenient transportation at the lowest cost consistent therewith.'' Secretary The Department of Transportation is administered by the Secretary of Transportation, who is the principal adviser to the President in all matters relating to Federal transportation programs. back to list

Secretary of Energy

Department of Energy (1977):

The Department of Energy, in partnership with its customers, is entrusted to contribute to the welfare of the Nation by providing the technical information and the scientific and educational foundation for the technology, policy, and institutional leadership necessary to achieve efficiency in energy use, diversity in energy sources, a more productive and competitive economy, improved environmental quality, and a secure national defense.

The Secretary of Energy decides major energy policy and planning issues; acts as the principal spokesperson for the Department; and ensures the effective communication and working relationships with Federal, State, local, and tribal governments and the public. The Secretary is the principal adviser to the President on energy policies, plans, and programs. back to list

Secretary of Education

Department of Education (1979):

The Department of Education establishes policy for, administers, and coordinates most Federal assistance to education. Its mission is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the Nation. The Secretary of Education advises the President on education plans, policies, and programs of the Federal Government and serves as the chief executive officer of the Department, coordinating and overseeing all Department activities, providing support and encouragement to States and localities on matters related to education, and focusing the resources of the Department and the attention of the country on ensuring equal access to education and promoting educational excellence throughout the Nation. back to list

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Department of Veterans Affairs (1988):

The Department of Veterans Affairs operates programs to benefit veterans and members of their families. Benefits include compensation payments for disabilities or death related to military service; pensions; education and rehabilitation; home loan guaranty; burial; and a medical care program incorporating nursing homes, clinics, and medical centers. The Department is comprised of three organizations that administer veterans programs: the Veterans Health Administration, the Veterans Benefits Administration, and the National Cemetery Administration. Each organization has field facilities and a central office component. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs reports directly to the President and is responsible for the direction and supervision of all operations and activities of the Department. Secretary of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security (2003):

Worksto prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage from potential attacks and natural disasters. back to list

To learn more, choose from the following: * Branches of Government * The Executive Branch * The President * Requirements to be President * Legislative Powers of the President * The President's Cabinet * List of Cabinet Secretaries * Order of Succession * Presidents of the United States * United States Government Manual

---- A service of the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office. Last updated: February 1, 2007

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