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constitutional authority (presidential)

Powers derived from the provisions of the Constitution that outline the president's role in government


statutory authority (presidential)

Powers derived from laws enacted by Congress that add to the powers given to the president in the Constitution.


vesting clause

Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution, which states: "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America," making the president both the head of government and the head of state


head of government

One role of the president, through which he or she has authority over the executive branch


head of state

One role of the president, through which he or she represents the country symbolically and politically


recess appointment

Selection by the president of a person to be an ambassador or the head of a department while the Senate is not in session, thereby bypassing Senate approval. Unless approved by a subsequent Senate vote, recess appointees serve only to the end of the congressional term


executive orders

Proclamations made by the president that change government policy without congressional approval


executive agreement

An agreement between the executive branch and a foreign government, which acts as a treaty but does not require Senate approval.


State of the Union

An annual speech in which the president addresses Congress to report on the condition of the country and to recommend policies


executive privilege

The right of the president to keep executive branch conversations and correspondence confidential from the legislative and judicial branches.


Executive Office of the President (EOP)

The group of policy-related offices that serve as support staff to the president.



The group of 15 executive department heads who implement the president's agenda in their respective positions


unilateral action (presidential)

Any policy decision made and acted upon by the president and presidential staff without the explicit approval or consent of Congress.


signing statement

A document issued by the president when signing a bill into law explaining his or her interpretation of the law, which often differs from the interpretation of Congress, in an attempt to influence how the law will be implemented


presidential approval rating

The percentage of Americans who think that the president is doing a good job in offic


going public

A president's use of speeches and other public communications to appeal directly to citizens about issues the president would like the House and Senate to act on



The system of civil servants and political appointees who implement congressional or presidential decisions; also known as the administrative state


civil servants

Employees of bureaucratic agencies within the government.


political appointees

People selected by an elected leader, such as the president, to hold a government position.



A rule that allows the government to exercise control over individuals and corporations by restricting certain behaviors.


notice-and-comment procedure

A step in the rule-making process in which proposed rules are published in the Federal Register and made available for debate by the general public


state capacity

The knowledge, personnel, and institutions that the government requires to effectively implement policies


problem of control

A difficulty faced by elected officials in ensuring that when bureaucrats implement policies they follow these officials' intentions but still have enough discretion to use their expertise


principal–agent game

The interaction between a principal (such as the president or Congress), who needs something done, and an agent (such as a bureaucrat), who is responsible for carrying out the principal's orders.


red tape

Excessive or unnecessarily complex regulations imposed by the bureaucracy.


standard operating procedures (SOPs)

Rules that lower-level bureaucrats must follow when implementing policies


federal civil service

A system created by the 1883 Pendleton Civil Service Act in which bureaucrats are hired on the basis of merit rather than political connections.


Office of Management and Budget

An office within the EOP that is responsible for creating the president's annual budget proposal to Congress, reviewing proposed rules, and performing other budget-related tasks


independent agencies

Government offices or organizations that provide government services and are not part of an executive department.


budget maximizers

Bureaucrats who seek to increase funding for their agency whether or not that additional spending is worthwhile