HGov: Presidential Staffing


EOP seal

Newly elected presidents gain advantages from their appointment powers. Presidents appoint individuals who are members of their political party. Policymaking requires a detailed understanding of policy issues, and this knowledge is a source of considerable power. The appointees also extend the president’s reach into the huge federal bureaucracy by exerting influence on the day-to-day workings of the agencies they head. 

The key staff organization is the Executive Office of the President (EOP) which provides the president with the staff necessary to coordinate the activities of the executive branch.The EOP is the command center of the presidency. Its configuration is determined by the president and currently consists of the Office of the Vice President and thirteen other organizations. These include the White House Office (WHO), which consists of the president’s closest personal advisers; the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) which consists of experts who formulate and administer the federal budget; the National Security Council (NSC) which advises the president on foreign and military affairs; and the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) which advises the president on the national economy.

Of the EOP’s thirteen other organizations, the White House Office serves the president most directly and personally. The units within the WHO include the Communications Office, the Office of the Press Secretary, the Office of the Counsel to the President, and the Office of Legislative Affairs.The WHO consists of the president’s personal assistants including close personal advisers, press agents, legislative and group liaison aides and special assistants for domestic and international policy. They work in the White House and the president hires and fires them at will. Personal assistants do much of the legwork for the president and serve as a main source of advice. Most are skilled at developing political strategy, recognizing political opportunities and communicating with the public, Congress, state and local governments, key groups and the news media. Because of their closeness and loyalty to the president, they are among the most powerful individuals in Washington.

The president is also served by policy experts in the EOP’s other organizations. They include economists, legal analysts, national security specialists and others. Modern policymaking cannot be conducted in the absence of such expert advice and knowledge.

The heads of fifteen executive departments constitute the president’s cabinet. The cabinet once served as the president’s main advisory group but has not played this role since Herbert Hoover’s administration. As national issues have become increasingly complex, the cabinet has become outmoded as a policymaking forum. Department heads understand issues only in their respective areas. Therefore, cabinet meetings have been largely reduced to gatherings at which only the most general matters are discussed. Nevertheless, cabinet members are important figures in any administration. The president chooses them for their prominence in politics, business, government, or the professions. Many of them bring to their office a high level of experience in public affairs. The office of secretary of state is generally regarded as the most prestigious of the cabinet positions.

In addition to cabinet secretaries, the president appoints the heads and top deputies of federal agencies and commissions.Altogether, the president appoints a few thousand executive officials. Most of these appointees are selected at the agency level or are part-time workers. This still leaves nearly seven hundred full-time appointees who serve the president more or less directly.


Homework:
1) Read Chapter 12 pp.391-397

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