WhiteHouse - Why It Matters

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washington Capitol Building
West side view of the United States Capitol building.

Head: President of the United States Barack Obama

# of Employees: Estimated 2,000-3,000

2015 Budget: Estimated $500-$750 million

Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington

George Washington had one staff assistant, his nephew, who the first U.S. president paid out of his own pocket. Now, thousands of people work in what is termed the Executive Office of the President (EOP). A small but high-profile group of them are people who work in the White House: the press secretary, the scheduling team, the White House counsel and more.

The EOP also includes many offices outside of the White House, well-known ones such as the National Security Council, the National Economic Council and the Office of Management and Budget, and lesser-known entities like the Office of Administration and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board.

The mission of the EOP is to advise the president. Former presidential aide and historian Theodore Sorensen said some presidents use the EOP “as a farm league, some use it as a source of experts and implementers, and some use it as Elba.”

For decades after George Washington, presidents paid out of pocket for an aide or two to help them run the country. When Andrew Jackson took the oath of office, he was issued one government clerk, and slowly the office began to expand. The Executive Office of the President was created in 1939 by Franklin D. Roosevelt to assist the president, whose job had become unmanageable after the implementation of the New Deal.

The size and budget of the EOP are a bit of a mystery because many of the employees are detailed from other executive agencies. Staff estimates range from 2,000 to 6,000 employees with an annual budget between $500 million and $750 million.

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James Hakim writes for whorunsGov, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.