The United States federal executive departments are the primary units of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, and are analogous to ministries common in parliamentary or semi-presidential systems but, with the United States being a presidential system, led by a head of government separate from 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.
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Departments are listed by their present-day name and only departments with past or present cabinet-level status are listed.
|State||1789||4||Initially named "Department of Foreign Affairs"||16.39||18,900|
|Justice||1870||7||Attorney General created in 1789, but had no department until 1870||46.20||113,543|
|Agriculture||1889||9||Elevated to Cabinet level in 1889||134.12||109,832|
|Commerce||1903||10||Originally named Commerce and Labor; Labor later separated||15.77||43,880|
|Defense||1947||6||Created by the National Security Act of 1947. Initially named "National Military Establishment" 1947-49. Created from a merger of the Department of War and Department of the Navy.||651.16||3,000,000|
|Health and Human Services||1953||12||Originally the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; Education later separated||879.20||67,000|
|Housing and Urban Development||1965||13||40.53||10,600|
|Veterans Affairs||1989||17||Formerly an independent agency as the Veterans Administration||97.70||235,000|
|Homeland Security||2003||18||Created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002||40.00||240,000|
|Total outlays, employees:||2,311.30Bn||4,214,652|
|Department||Dates of Operation||Notes|
|Department of War||1789–1947||Split into Department of the Army and Department of the Air Force in the National Security Act of 1947|
|Post Office Department||1792–1971||Reorganized as quasi-independent agency, United States Postal Service|
|Department of Commerce and Labor||1903–1913||Divided between Department of Commerce and Department of Labor|
|Department of the Army||1947–1949||From 1947-1949, these departments were executive departments with non-cabinet level secretaries who reported to the civilian Secretary of Defense with cabinet rank but no department. From 1949 on, they were Military Departments within the Department of Defense|
|Department of the Navy||1798–1949|
|Department of the Air Force||1947–1949|
|Department of Health, Education, and Welfare||1953–1979||Divided between Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education|
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