The federal bureaucracy began in 1789 with three departments, State, War, and Treasury and a handful of employees. Today, the fifteen executive departments of government and other agencies employ approximately 2.7 million employees. See Figure 13-1 for a look at the government civilian employees by agency and Figure 13-2 for employees at the various levels of government.
The federal bureaucracy has four major types of structures. These are cabinet departments, independent executive agencies, independent regulatory agencies and government corporations. See Figure 13-3 for an organizational chart of the federal government. The fifteen cabinet departments, described as line organizations, are the major part of the federal bureaucracy. See Table 13-2 for information about the executive departments. Independent executive agencies are bureaucratic organizations that are not part of an executive department but still report directly to the president. See Table 13-3 for a brief description of various independent executive agencies. Independent regulatory agencies are responsible for regulating a particular sector of the economy in the public interest. The first agency established was the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) in 1887. See Table 13-4 for information on selected independent regulatory agencies. Government corporations are agencies that administer a quasi-business enterprise. The U.S. Postal Service is a good example of this type of bureaucratic entity. See Table 13-5 for information on selected government corporations.