Presidential Directives: Background and Overview
From the earliest days of the federal government, Presidents, exercisingmagisterial or executive power not unlike that of a monarch, from time to time haveissued directives establishing new policy, decreeing the commencement or cessationof some action, or ordaining that notice be given to some declaration. Theinstruments used by Presidents in these regards have come to be known by variousnames, and some have prescribed forms and purposes. Executive orders andproclamations are probably two of the best-known types, largely because of theirlong-standing use and publication in the
Code of Federal Regulations
. Others are less familiar, some because they are cloaked in officialsecrecy. There is, as well, the oral presidential directive, the sense of which iscaptured in an announcement that records what the President has prescribed orinstructed. This report provides an overview of the different kinds of directives thathave primarily been utilized by 20
century Presidents. Presenting background onthe historical development, accounting, use, and effect of such directives, it will beupdated as events suggest.