A Brief History
On July 27, 1789, the Department of Foreign Affairs was created, becoming the first of many US Federal departments and agencies. As you may guess, this department is now called the Department of State.
How many agencies and departments does the Federal Government currently have? We have 15 Cabinet level departments, each led by a secretary appointed by the President and approved by the Senate. The most recently added Department is the Department of Homeland Security, added in 2002. Meanwhile, we now have a staggering 438 Federal agencies.
Despite this enormous growth in bureaucracy, there have been some Departments eliminated or consolidated, including separate Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and the erstwhile US Post Office, now designated as the United States Postal Service and still run by a Postmaster General although no longer a cabinet position.
Not counting uniformed military service, there are about 2.85 million US Federal employees.
Question for students (and subscribers): Is the US government too big or too small? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Campbell, Ballard. The Growth of American Government. Indiana University Press, 2014.
Moore, Stephen. Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Government Is Devouring Our Economy—And Our Freedom. Post Hill Press, 2021.
The featured image in this article, the flag of the United States Department of State, is a work of a United States Department of State employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain per 17 U.S.C. § 101 and § 105 and the Department Copyright Information.
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.