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Social Studies: Bureaucracy [AP GOV]

Guides for American History, Government, & Electives

Independent Agencies

  • Independent agencies are created by Congress, and are similar to Cabinet Departments, but are smaller and focus on more specific policy areas.
  • The agency heads are appointed by the  President, and confirmed by the Senate.
  • The president may remove agency heads at any time without congressional approval

Executive Departments and Agencies

  • There are 15 Executive Departments, led by a Secretary or the Attorney General (Justice Department).
  • The heads are chosen by presidential appointment and confirmed by the Senate.
  • A department secretary can be fired by the president at any time without congressional approval.
  • Within each department, there are agencies of greater specialization.
    • If you have an agency from this list, you must figure out what Executive Department your agency is within.

Independent Regulatory Agencies

  • The Independent Regulatory Agencies are created by an act of Congress, and are to be autonomous agencies.
  • While they are considered part of the executive branch,they  are to be independent of the executive departments and the president.
  • These agencies are to impose and enforce regulations free of political influence.
  • They are typically run by 5-10 member boards, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
  • They tend to have specific terms of office, with terms staggered so a single president could not necessarily appoint all members. 
  • The president does not have the authority to remove agency heads, which is part of their independent nature.
  • Members generally may not all be from the same political party.

Government Corporation

  • Government corporations are agencies that conduct business or produce products for the nation.
  • They are organized like private corporations with a board of directors and general manger, and they usually charge for their services.
  • The president selects most of the top officers, with Senate confirmation.
  • These have generally been created to serve markets that would not be profitable for the private sector, and have varying degrees of independence.
  • They are often subject to congressional actions that control their missions and goals.

Executive Office of the Presidency

  • The Executive Offices of the Presidency [EOP] includes  highly influential policy-related offices and agencies.
  • Heads of agencies are filled through presidential appointment, but no Senate confirmation is required.
  • The President may remove heads of these agencies at any time without congressional approval.