Executive Departments

Find detailed information about each Executive Department, including the department's secretary, role in government, contact information, and history of the department.

  • Department of Agriculture
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW (20250)
  •  Established: May 15, 1862. Administered by Commissioner of Agriculture until 1889, when it was made executive department.
  •  Function: Supervises agricultural production to make sure prices are fair; helps farmers financially with subsidies and development programs; helps food producers sell their goods overseas; runs food assistance and nutrition programs. The USDA's inspection and grading programs make sure food is safe to eat.
  •  Secretary: Tom Vilsack
  • Department of Commerce
  • 1401 Constitution Ave., NW (20230)
  •  Established: Department of Commerce and Labor was created Feb. 14, 1903. On March 4, 1913, all labor activities were transferred out of Department of Commerce and Labor and it was renamed Department of Commerce.
  •  Function: Promotes international trade, economic growth, and technological advancement; works to keep the U.S. competitive in international markets and to prevent unfair foreign trade practices; gathers statistics for business and government planners.
  •  Secretary: Penny Pritzker
  • Department of Defense
  • Office of the Secretary, The Pentagon (20301-1155)
  •  Established: July 26, 1947, as National Military Establishment; name changed to Department of Defense on Aug. 10, 1949. Subordinate to Secretary of Defense are Secretaries of Army, Navy, Air Force.
  •  Function: Oversees everything related to the nation's military security; directs the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff and several specialized combat commands; nonmilitary responsibilities including flood control, development of oceanographic resources, and management of oil reserves.
  •  Secretary: Chuck Hagel
  •  Deputy Secretary: Ashton B. Carter
  •  Secretary of Army: Admiral John M. McHugh
  •  Secretary of Navy: Ray Mabus
  •  Secretary of Air Force: Michael B. Donley
  •  Commandant of Marine Corps: Gen James F. Amos
  •  Joint Chiefs of Staff: Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman; Adm. James A. Winnefeld, Jr., Navy, Vice Chairman; Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army; Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, Navy; Gen. James F. Amos, Marine Corps; Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force; General Frank J. Grass, National Guard Bureau.
  • Department of Education
  • 400 Maryland Ave., SW (20202)
  •  Established: Oct. 17, 1979
  •  Function: Administers more than 150 federal education programs, including student loans, migrant worker training, vocational education, and special programs for the handicapped. The Department of Education took over many of the education programs previously managed by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and six other agencies.
  •  Secretary: Arne Duncan
  • Department of Energy
  • 1000 Independence Ave., SW (20585)
  •  Established: Oct. 1, 1977
  •  Function: Responsible for the research and development of energy technology; energy conservation; the civilian and military use of nuclear energy; regulation of energy production and use; pricing and allocation of oil; sets standards to reduce the harmful effects of energy production.
  •  Secretary: Ernest Moniz
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • 200 Independence Ave., SW (20201)
  •  Established: Formed April 11, 1953, replacing Federal Security Agency created in 1939. On Oct. 17, 1979, the Department of Education became a separate department.
  •  Function: Administers Social Security; funds Medicare and Medicaid; offers social services for poor families, Native Americans, children, the elderly, migrants, refugees, and the handicapped; oversees institutes dealing with mental health and substance abuse; works to control preventable and infectious diseases; conducts research on cancer, AIDS, child health, aging, and other issues; ensures the safety of the nation's food supply and tests and approves all drugs.
  •  Secretary: Kathleen Sebelius
  •  Surgeon General: Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak (acting)
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Washington, DC 20528
  •  Established: The most significant transformation of the U.S. government since 1947 was formed in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, when 22 separate agencies were combined to become the cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. It became an official cabinet department Jan. 24, 2003.
  •  Function: To protect the nation against threats to the homeland.
  •  Secretary: Jeh Johnson
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • 451 7th St., SW (20410)
  •  Established: Nov. 9, 1965, replacing Housing and Home Finance Agency created in 1947
  •  Function: Promotes community development; administers fair-housing laws; provides affordable housing and rent subsidies.
  •  Secretary: Shaun Donovan
  • Department of the Interior
  • 1849 C St., NW (20240)
  •  Established: March 3, 1849
  •  Function: Protects the natural environment; develops the country's natural resources; manages national parks, monuments, rivers, seashores, lakes, outdoor recreation areas, and historic sites; oversees more than 400 wildlife refuges, research centers, wildfowl production areas, and fish hatcheries; supervises economic development and environmental protection of public land; helps Native Americans living on reservations. The Department of the Interior is also responsible for the following U.S. territories: the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the Trust Territory of Palau, and the Freely Associated States (Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia).
  •  Secretary: Sally Jewel
  • Department of Justice
  • 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW (20530)
  •  Established: Office of Attorney General was created Sept. 24, 1789. Although one of the original cabinet members, the attorney general was not an executive department head until June 22, 1870, when the Department of Justice was established.
  •  Function: Supervises U.S. district attorneys and marshals; supervises federal prisons and other penal institutions; advises the President on petitions for paroles and pardons; represents the U.S. government in legal matters and gives legal advice to the president and other members of the Cabinet; researches violations of federal laws; administers immigration laws.
  •  Attorney General: Eric Holder
  •  Solicitor General: Donald B. Verrilli, Jr.
  •  Director of FBI: James B. Comey
  • Department of Labor
  • 200 Constitution Ave., NW (20210)
  •  Established: Bureau of Labor was created in 1884 under Department of the Interior; later became independent department without executive rank. Returned to bureau status in Department of Commerce and Labor, but on March 4, 1913, became independent executive department under its present name.
  •  Function: Protects the rights of workers; helps improve working conditions; promotes good relations between labor and management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks changes in employment, prices, and other national economic statistics.
  •  Secretary: Thomas Perez
  • Department of State
  • 2201 C St., NW (20520)
  •  Established: 1781 as Department of Foreign Affairs; reconstituted, 1789, following adoption of Constitution; name changed to Department of State Sept. 15, 1789.
  •  Function: Advises the president on foreign-policy issues; works to carry out the country's foreign policy; maintains relations between foreign countries and the U.S.; negotiates treaties and agreements with foreign nations; speaks for the U.S. in the United Nations and other major international organizations; supervises embassies, missions, and consulates overseas.
  •  Secretary: John Kerry
  •  UN Ambassador: Samantha Power
  •  Deputy UN Ambassador: Rosemary di Carlo
  • Department of Transportation
  • 1200 New Jersey Ave, SE (20590)
  •  Established: Oct. 15, 1966, as result of Department of Transportation Act, which became effective April 1, 1967.
  •  Function: Sets the nation's transportation policy. There are nine administrations within the department whose jurisdictions include highway planning, development, and construction; aviation; urban mass transit; railroads; and the safety of waterways, ports, highways, and oil and gas pipelines. Also supervises the Coast Guard, which is responsible for search and rescue at sea and the enforcement of laws that protect oceans and waterways from oil spills and other pollution.
  •  Secretary: Anthony Foxx
  • Department of the Treasury
  • 1500 Pennsylvania Ave., NW (20220)
  •  Established: Sept. 2, 1789
  •  Function: Reports to Congress and the president on the financial state of the government and the economy; regulates the interstate and foreign sale of alcohol and firearms; supervises the printing of stamps for the U.S. Postal Service; curbs counterfeiting; and operates the Customs Service, which regulates and taxes imports. The Internal Revenue Service, a branch of the Treasury, regulates tax laws and collects Federal taxes.
  •  Secretary: Jack Lew
  •  Treasurer of the U.S.: Rosie Rios
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • 810 Vermont Ave., NW (20420)
  •  Established: March 15, 1989, replacing Veterans Administration created in 1930
  •  Function: Provides benefits and services to veterans and their dependents; offers pensions, education, rehabilitation, home loan guarantees, burial, compensation payments for disabilities or death related to military service, and a medical care program.
  •  Secretary: Eric Shinseki

Executive Departments and Agencies


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