Navigation Bar Grades K-2 Grades 3-5 Grades 6-8Grades 9-12 Parents and Teachers Home

Executive Branch

When the delegates to the Constitutional Convention created the executive branch of government, they gave the president a limited term of office to lead the government. This was very different from any form of government in Europe and caused much debate. The delegates were afraid of what too much power in the hands of one person might lead to. In the end, with a system of checks and balances included in the Constitution, a single president to manage the executive branch of government was adopted.

The executive branch of Government enforces the laws of the land. When George Washington was president, people recognized that one person could not carry out the duties of the President without advice and assistance. The President receives this help from the Vice President, department heads (Cabinet members), heads of independent agencies, and executive agencies. Unlike the powers of the President, their responsibilities are not defined in the Constitution but each has special powers and functions.

Many laws enacted by Congress require agencies to issue regulations. Executive branch agencies are granted the power to implement regulations relating to matters within their jurisdiction. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) makes regulations regarding medical issues. Regulations are published daily in the Federal Register and are then codified in the Code of Federal Regulations once a year.

  • President: Leader of the country and Commander in Chief of the military.
  • Vice President: President of the Senate and becomes President if the President is unable to serve.
  • Departments: Department heads advise the President on policy issues and help execute those policies.
  • Executive Agencies: Makes regulations to help implement laws.
  • Independent Agencies: Help carry out policy or provide special services.