Under Construction

Executive: The two main functions of the executive are:
  • to collect taxes and customs duties and to use the money to pay the salaries of government employees and other government expenditure;
  • to assure the internal and external security of the state, notably by maintaining a police force and armed forces.

The executive is also responsible for regulating many (if not most) sectors of the economy, notably

  • the labor force (e.g. by enforcing labor laws)
  • agriculture
  • transportation
  • energy provision
  • housing and construction (e.g. by issuing building permits)
  • commerce in general (e.g. by enforcing minimum standards, and notably by issuing a currency)
The executive may provide health and education services: at the very least, it usually has a role in regulating these areas. It may also operate nationalized industries, and promote research and culture.

The fourth branch of government refers to a group that influences the three branches of governance defined in the American Constitution (legislative, judicial, and executive). Such groups can include the press, the people, nterest groups.

The United States Constitution provides that the president "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for..." (Article II, section 2). This provision, like many others in the Constitution, was born of compromise, and, over the more than two centuries since its adoption, has inspired widely varying interpretations.

The president nominates all federal judges in the judicial branch and specified officers in cabinet-level departments, independent agencies, the military services, the Foreign Service and uniformed civilian services, as well as U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals. In recent years, more than three hundred positions in fourteen cabinet agencies and more than one hundred positions in independent and other agencies have been subject to presidential appointment. Approximately 4,000 civilian and 65,000 military nominations are submitted to the Senate during each two-year session of Congress.

Presidents have occasionally circumvented the confirmation process by making so-called "recess appointments" when the Senate is in adjournment between sessions, or in recess within a session. As provided by the Constitution, such appointments expire at the end of the following congressional session, but may expire earlier in certain specified circumstances.


  • U.S. Government Manual - The official handbook of the Federal Government, the United States Government Manual provides comprehensive information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. It also includes information on quasi-official agencies, international organizations in which the United States participates, and boards, commissions, and committees. The Manual begins with reprints of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The new edition of the Manual is available annually in late summer.

U.S. Federal Government, on USA.gov
Executive Departments

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last updated 9 Nov 2008