Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


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Who are the Secretaries?

The President has the power to appoint men and women to work with him/her in running the government and carrying out the laws of the nation. These people make up the President's Cabinet. The members of the President's Cabinet advise the President on all important problems he/she must face. They also lead the departments for the Executive Branch of our government. Congress must give its approval to the men and women the President appoints before they can take office.

The secretaries' titles of the President's Cabinet and a simplified version of their duties are listed below.

SECRETARY OF STATE: He/she supervises the State Department which works with foreign countries, decides on travel to countries, and protects U.S. citizens abroad.

SECRETARY OF TREASURY: He/she supervises the Treasury Department which has charge of the fiscal (money) responsibilities of the government, the Secret Service, and the collection of taxes.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: He/she leads the Defense Department which sees that the nation is protected against its enemies and which works closely with all branches of the armed forces.

ATTORNEY GENERAL: This person is the President's main legal advisor in matters pertaining to the country. He/she sees that the laws are enforced and that the people receive justice. This person may appoint special investigation teams. He/she runs the Justice Department. (This is not the same as being a justice with the Supreme Court.)

SECRETARY OF INTERIOR: This person leads the Department of the Interior which protects and improves the natural resources of the nation's national parks and forests.

SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE: He/she leads the Department of Agriculture which focuses on the safety and regulation of food production and works with farmers throughout the country.

SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: He/she leads the Department of Health and Human Services which handles welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security payments and issues.

SECRETARY OF LABOR: He/she supervises the Department of Labor which assists and protects the working people of the nation.

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: This secretary leads the Department of Commerce which assists the businesses of the nation, sets trade policies, and enforces rules for moving materials across the country and around the world.

SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: This secretary administers the Department of Housing and Urban Development which specializes in issues related to building homes for lower income Americans and planning for better communities.

SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: He/she administers the Department of Transportation which enforces the laws and safety regulations pertaining to railroads, busses, ships and airplanes.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY: He/she leads the Department of Energy which works on problems about energy and fuels such as coal, oil, gas, and atomic energy. This department also promotes research on solar energy and other alternate sources of power.

SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: He/she supervises the Department of Education which works with schools throughout the country to provide money and grants for educational programs and services.

SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: He/she runs the Department of Veterans Affairs which provides services and advice to men and women who have served in the armed forces. This department was just recently established in 1989.

Task: Find the names of each of the current secretaries.