Supplementary Guide to Cabinet Positions

Prepared by Ronnie Anguas and Sonam Velani

Harvard Model Congress Asia

Welcome to the Presidential Cabinet of Harvard Model Congress Asia. Over the course of the next few months, you will have the opportunity to delve into the issues and responsibilities that test the leaders of departments and agencies that constitute the Executive Branch of the United States Government. This process will no doubt expose you to new ideas and challenge your understanding of how government works and what skills are necessary for effective leadership. The Presidential Cabinet is responsible for advising the president on any subject he may require relating to the duties of their respective offices. The Cabinet includes the vice president and, by law, the heads of 15 executive departments, as well as the people the president regards as crucial for coordinating national policy at the highest level. It is the duty of each Cabinet member to provide the president with recommendations on policy issues at hand, as well as to implement the president's decision in their respective departments. While the president's agenda is of principal concern to each Cabinet member, they are each responsible for representing their department’s interests and opinions. Thus, the Cabinet is seldom unified in its consideration of any single issue. Instead, it usually turns out to be a meeting of clashing, diverse, and independent voices. It is the special challenge of a Cabinet to establish consensus amidst the turmoil. Before the conference, you will be responsible for developing policy papers outlining your advice to the president on the issues you have been assigned. In order to formulate these proposals you may wish to contact the department you are representing or use it's website to conduct research. Each cabinet department has a website that provides full biographical and policy information about the both the Cabinet members and the issues on which the president may call on them to report. For more general sources of information, visit the White House website. News outlets are also excellent sources for policy research, especially the New York Times. It is critical that you understand the responsibilities and background of the cabinet member that you will be representing at Harvard Model Congress Asia. You are the sole representative of

New York Times—the premier U.S. newspaper, online at


your department and its interests, so your well-informed participation is essential to a productive, insightful, exciting session of the Presidential Cabinet. Please contact us with questions, concerns, or random musings as they arise over the next few months. The Harvard Model Congress Asia website ( will be our primary means of communication, so check it regularly, and don’t hesitate to email us through the site. We are looking forward to meeting you and spending a terrific weekend together.

Nominated by President Bush in 2004, former White House Legal Counsel Alberto Gonzales is currently the United States Attorney General, an executive office as old as the federal government itself. Among the duties of the office are administering of the Department of Justice, prosecuting of criminal cases involving the government, and directing of the system of federal jails. The attorney general also provides legal advice to the president and the heads of executive departments. These opinions are published and provide precedents and guidelines for future action. Thus, the opinions of the Attorney General are important in shaping the government’s interpretation of the law. Acting as the President’s legal counsel since 2001, Alberto Gonzales developed a reputation for being a moderate voice among the President’s closest advisors. Prior to serving in the White House, Gonzales served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas (1999-2001) and as Secretary of State of Texas (1997-1999). As a Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, Gonzales raised eyebrows among the more conservative Republicans with some moderate rulings, including a majority vote not requiring some teenagers to get parental permission before abortion. Before his appointment as Attorney General, Gonzales was the General Counsel to Governor Bush for three years. Alberto Gonzales graduated from Rice University in 1979 and received his JD from Harvard Law School in 1982. He served in the United States Air Force between 1973 and 1975 and attended the United States Air Force Academy between 1975 and 1977. Gonzales is the first Hispanic American to hold a Cabinet position. In January of 2002, Gonzales was criticized for writing a memo that suggested the President’s administration may be held accountable for “war crimes” if it did not agree with the decision of Justice Department attorneys that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, where people captured in the War on Terror are held.

Prosecuting—to conduct a formal legal proceeding against someone suspected of a crime. Counsel—legal sor. advi-

Moderate—neither especially liberal or conservative. Abortion—a controversial surgical method that ends a pregnancy. Opposed by most Republicans, but strongly supported by nearly all Democrats. Geneva Conventions—international agreements regarding the treatment of prisoners of war. Guantanamo Bay—a controversial military prison facility where the U.S. keeps suspected terrorists.


Generally speaking, the Attorney General will work to justify the legal grounds for some of the President’s policies. For instance, when President Bush wanted to expand the government’s rights of search and investigation, Mr. Gonzales was at the forefront of the legal battle. As necessary, the Attorney General will also participate in the discussions of the National Security Council. For more information: and http:// The Attorney General should pay special attention to these issues that will be discussed in Congress: Wiretapping, National IDs, Enemy Combatants

Mike McConnell was appointed as the country’s second Director of National Intelligence (DNI) on February 13, 2007. He serves as the head of the intelligence community. The DNI is also the main advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council. He also supervises and guides the implementation of the National Intelligence Program. The Director is assisted by a Senateconfirmed deputy director. The DNI position was created by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, in response to the 9/11 Commission Report. Prior to the creation of the DNI, the head of the intelligence community was the Director of Central Intelligence. The 9/11 Commission highlighted the need for major overhaul in the intelligence community, and the creation of the DNI resulted from this overhaul. Prior to his nomination as DNI, McConnell served as Senior Vice President with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. He was also the Director of the National Security Agency, leading the organization as it adapted to the multi-polar threats brought about by the end of the Cold War. He also served as a member of the Director of Central Intelligence senior leadership team and as the Intelligence Officer for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense. He holds a M.P.A. from George Washington University, is a graduate of the National Defense University (Global Telecom), the National Defense Intelligence College (Strategic Intelligence), and holds a B.A. in Economics from Furman University. The DNI will mainly focus on the President’s initiatives to prevent terrorism, working closely with other cabinet members such as the

9/11 Commission Report—the official report about the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, why they occurred, and what should be done in the future to prevent terrorism. Intelligence community—the group of intelligence agencies in the U.S. government.


Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of Homeland Security. Together they will devise a plan to keep the country safe from domestic and international threats. Under President Bush, the DNI will also provide intelligence reports that would be useful in fighting the war in Iraq, as well as information about securing America’s borders. By law, the DNI is also a member of the National Security Council. For Further Information: The Director of National Intelligence should pay special attention to these issues that will be discussed in Congress: Intelligence Reform, Wiretapping, National IDs

Stephen Johnson holds cabinet rank as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an executive agency of that seeks to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment upon which life depends by regulating and eliminating threats to the environment. As administrator of the agency, he must oversee its goals of: eliminating environmental health risks, enforcing federal environmental laws, integrating environmental conservation into United States policies, providing accurate information regarding the environment, and working with other nations to protect the global environment. The underlying purpose of the EPA is to make the air cleaner, the water purer, and the land better protected through research, lobbying and educational efforts. Johnson is a career civil servant. Prior to his appointment to the Bush cabinet on May 2, 2005, Stephen Johnson served as Acting Administrator, Deputy Administrator, and Acting Deputy Administrator. He has been working in the EPA for over twenty-four years holding multiple offices. Generally speaking, the head of the EPA is at odds with big business. Large corporations often find it more profitable to pollute than to dispose of their materials in an environmentally friendly manner. Since the Republican Party is generally friendly with corporate America, the head of the EPA under Bush must strike a balance between enforcing the law and maintaining a sound relationship with the business community. Further information: The Director of the EPA should pay special attention to these issues that will be discussed in Congress: CAFE standards, CO2 emissions

Natural environment—the air, water, minerals, and organism that populate the earth.


Carlos Gutierrez heads the Department of Commerce, which seeks to promote job creation, economic growth, sustainable development, and improved living standards for the country. These goals are pursued by fostering domestic and global trade and by encouraging technological development. The Department of Commerce deals with a wide array of economic issues including international trade negotiations and U.S. participation in foreign markets, supporting minority-owned businesses, and patent distribution. Carlos Gutierrez oversees the Department of Commerce and is a key member of President Bush’s economic policy team. As a representative of business in the government, he defends companies against unjust policies, but also ensures that workers within these companies are given fair treatment. Before his appointment Gutierrez worked in the business sector, rising through the corporate ranks to become CEO of Kellogg Company, a major US corporation. A Cuban immigrant, Gutierrez studied business administration and worked his way up through Kellogg after starting as sales associate. Gutierrez is a life-long Republican. He is a dedicated supporter of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and generally is a trusted manager who executes the President’s policies. Since commerce includes a broad range of industries, Gutierrez works with a number of other cabinet officials to ensure that businesses receive protection from the government, if need be. Further information: The Secretary of Commerce should pay special attention to these issues that will be discussed in Congress: Foreign Takeovers, Taiwan Arms Sales, Poverty Reduction

Minority-owned business—a business that is owned by a racial or ethnic minority. Patent—an exclusive right granted by the government to an inventor to manufacture a good.

CEO—chief executive officer; the head of a large company.

On November 8, 2006, following the midterm elections, President Bush announced the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld and nominated Robert M. Gates to replace him. Gates was confirmed by the Senate in December 2006. The Secretary of Defense heads the Department of Defense (DoD). The DoD directs and controls the armed forces, distributing military resources and developing policies that support of US
Midterm elections— elections for Congress that do not coincide with a presidential election year.


national security objectives. In times of war, the Secretary of Defense is the second-highest commander of the US military, answering only to the president. Born in Wichita, Kansas, Robert M. Gates is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, Indiana University, and Georgetown University. Upon graduation, Gates began his 26 year career in the intelligence agencies with a three year deployment in Vietnam. Gates rose through the ranks of the CIA, eventually being nominated by George H.W. Bush and confirmed as the Director of Central Intelligence, where he served from 1991-1993. As a civilian running the military bureaucracy, Mr. Gates will bring a novel perspective to the position. He will not have the field experience that a military leader might have, but he will have a great sense of how military endeavors affect American domestic policy. Lacking direct experience himself, he will likely need to rely heavily on military advisors in combat areas. By law, the Secretary of Defense is also a member of the National Security Council. Further information: Secretary of Defense should pay special attention to the following issues that are being discussed in Congress: Taiwan Arms Sales, Foreign Takeovers

Nominated in November 2004 by President Bush, Margaret Spellings is slated to head the Department of Education, which was created in 1980 to oversee federal government’s involvement in education across the country. Although education has traditionally been an issue determined by state governments, over the past 50 years, the federal government has sought to ensure to equal access to education, to supplement and complement the state funding, and to improve the quality of education nationally. The Department promotes such improvements in quality and usefulness of education through federally supported research, evaluation and sharing of information. Prior to her nomination for Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings served as the White House Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. As the President’s Domestic Policy Advisor, Spellings helped shape the news while staying out of it herself. Before her White House appointment, Spellings worked for six years as Governor George W. Bush's Senior Advisor with responsibility for developing and imple-


menting the Governor's education policy. Spellings was one of the principal authors behind the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Spellings’ role is to ensure that the American education system is up to par in a global environment. She works extensively with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to determine policies that will result in a safe and healthy school environment. Under President Bush, she must also make sure that the No Child Left Behind Act is properly implemented and reformed with the passage of time. Further information: Secretary of Education should pay special attention to the following issues that are being discussed in Congress: Education Reform

Michael O. Leavitt heads the Department of Health and Human Services, an executive department of the United States government that works to protect the health and welfare of American citizens. The Secretary of Health and Human Services must oversee the support of and protection of older Americans, infants and children, people with disabilities, and the poor. Simultaneously, the department must maintain public health in the United States by supporting medical research, regulating foods and health care products, and fighting illegal drug use. Health and Human Services is essentially responsible for a great deal of social stability and protection of fundamental human needs such as nourishment, shelter, and medical attention. Before leading the Department of Health and Human Services, Leavitt led the Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to his appointment to the Bush cabinet, Mike Leavitt served as Governor of Utah and was a national leader on homeland security, welfare reform and environmental management. During his tenure as governor of Utah, Leavitt worked as a health-care innovator and welfare reformer, witnessing a decrease in the number of insured by 400,000. The Republican Party generally considers social welfare to be a private rather than government-run enterprise. The Secretary of Health and Human Services must balance his desire to expand programs (and thus improve quality of life for low-income, elderly, and disabled Americans) with his desire to follow President Bush’s plan to not increase government spending.

W e l f a r e — governmental aid to the poor.


Further information: Secretary of HHS should pay special attention to the following issues that are being discussed in Congress: Human Trafficking, Immigration, Education Reform

Michael Chertoff is Secretary of the recently created U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which was established in response to the tragic terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Chertoff oversees efforts to prevent terrorist actions in the US. The Department of Homeland Security is charged with developing and coordinating the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to detect, prepare for, prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks within the United States. Chertoff must ensure that intelligence obtained by one agency — evidence of a potential terrorist plot, for example — is disseminated to other agencies; he must ensure vital facilities — such as government buildings, airports, bridges, dams, electrical grids, water and food supplies and nuclear power plants — are secure from possible terrorist attack; finally he must ensure the United States is prepared to respond as quickly and effectively as possible to any future terrorist attack, including attacks using weapons of mass destruction. Chertoff must collaborate with many other departments to help ensure the nation’s security. One of President Bush’s main initiatives is the prevention of terrorism, and Chertoff’s role as the Secretary of Homeland Security is crucial in implementing these policies. He works with almost all members in the Cabinet since this issue infiltrates many departments. For example, he devises plans with the Secretary of Defense to determine how conflicts abroad will affect the threat of terrorism at home, but he also works with the Attorney General to establish adequate punishments for terrorist offenders. Further information: Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should pay attention to the following Congressional issues: Border Fence and Immigration Reform, Intelligence Reform

Weapons of mass destruction—chemical, biological, nuclear, or radiological weapons.


Elaine Chao heads the Department of Labor, an executive department of the United States federal government created by an act of Congress in 1913 "to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States, to improve their working conditions and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment." The Secretary of Labor is the President’s chief advisor on labor issues. Elaine Chao is the first Asian-American woman appointed to a United States cabinet position. Prior to her appointment as Secretary of Labor, Chao was a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a public policy research and educational institute. Before that she served as the President and CEO of United Way of America – the nation’s largest institution of private charitable giving. Chao opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which increased worker rights to sue for discrimination in the workplace, and she is against affirmative action. Chao also has no major experience working with labor unions. Labor relations are generally a very significant issue for businesses in America. As you will see in the guide to partisanship, the Democratic Party tends to be more supportive of labor unions than the Republican Party. With little union experience, Chao may be placed in a new situation in dealing with these large American institutions. Further information: Secretary of Labor should pay attention to the following issues: Immigration, Poverty Reduction, Education reform

Affirmative action— giving preference to racial or ethnic minorities in an attempt to right a historic inequality. Labor u ni o n s —a group of workers formed to advocate for higher pay and increased benefits.

On May 26, 2006, the United States Senate confirmed Rob Portman as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Mr. Portman was sworn in three days later. The OMB's chief mission is to assist the President in overseeing the preparation of the federal budget and to supervise its administration in Executive Branch agencies. In helping to formulate the President's spending plans, OMB evaluates the effectiveness of programs, policies, and procedures; assesses competing funding demands among agencies; and sets funding priorities. The OMB ensures that agency reports, rules, testimony, and proposed legislation are consistent with the President's Budget and with Administration policies. OMB's role is to help improve administrative management, to develop better performance measures and coordinating mecha-


nisms, and to reduce any unnecessary burdens on the public. The director of the OMB will be wary of any increase in government expenditure, especially in a time of deficit. Before assuming his position as the OMB Director, Portman was a part of the President’s cabinet as the United States Trade Representative. Portman also served in the United States Congress as the Representative of the Second District of Ohio. In this capacity, Portman was a Member of the House Ways and Means Committee as well as the House Budget Committee, and acted as a liaison between the House Leadership and the White House. With the government deficit increasing, Portman will have to ensure that spending for certain programs is not only required, but also efficient. He will have to carefully analyze each department’s budget to ensure that government expenditures are limited.

Deficit—when the government spends more than it takes in through taxes.

Liaison—a person charged with maintaining communication between two groups.

Nominated in November 2004, Condoleezza Rice is the head of the State Department, which advises the president on foreign issues and conducts relations with other countries. The Secretary of State conducts negotiations, represents the United States internationally, and supervises the Foreign Service bureaucracy. Of all the responsibilities of the State Department, diplomacy is at the top of the list. The Secretary of State must oversee this process of diplomacy, ensuring that the following occur: management of diplomatic relations with other countries and international institutions, promotion of peace and stability in regions of vital interest, encouragement of dialogue between countries, and establishment of stable political and economic environments in developing nations. Prior to her nomination, Condoleezza Rice served as the President’s National Security Advisor. Before serving as the National Security Advisor, Rice served in the elder Bush’s administration as an expert on Soviet and East European Affairs. When approaching policy issues, the Secretary of State is closely interested in how proposed policy will affect U.S. relations with other nations. In issues of foreign trade, for example, the Secretary of State is more likely than the Secretary of the Treasury to ask about how other countries will respond to a proposed trade pact. Whereas the Secretary of Health and Human Services will primarily worry about the domestic cost of immigration, the Secretary of State will also consider how our immigration policy affects our image abroad. By law, the Secretary of State is also a member of the National Security Council.

Diplomacy—the management of relations between states.


Further information: Secretary of State should pay attention to the following issues: US Arms Sales to Taiwan, Foreign Takeovers, Immigration

Henry M. Paulson, Jr. heads the Department of the Treasury, which is responsible for managing the finances of the government. The department seeks to promote prosperous and stable American and world economies, to manage the government's finances, and to safeguard our financial systems. In addition to administering the Department of Treasury, the Secretary acts as the principle economic advisor to the President and plays a critical role in policy-making by bringing an economic and government financial policy perspective to issues facing the government. The Secretary of Treasury is responsible for formulating and recommending domestic and international financial, economic, and tax policy, participating in broad fiscal policies that have general significance for the economy, and managing the public debt. The United States Senate unanimously confirmed Henry M. Paulson to the position of Secretary of Treasury on June 28, 2006. Before assuming this post, Paulson served as the Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, where he worked since 1974 in Investment Banking Services. Coming from the private sector, Paulson will have a unique perspective on the Treasury. On Wall Street, he was motivated by financial performance and the demands of investors in the open market. In Washington, he will serve at the president’s disposal and be subject to the whims of politics. As necessary, the Attorney General will also participate in the discussions of the National Secretary of Treasury should pay attention to the following issues: Poverty Reduction, Foreign Takeovers
Finances—monetary resources.

Public debt—the financial obligation incurred by a state resulting from deficit spending. Unanimously—without dissent. Goldman Sachs—a premier investment bank.

Joshua B. Bolten is a senior White House official of cabinet rank with a great deal of power. As White House Chief of Staff, he oversees the White House employees and acts as a liaison to the president. He is present at a wide variety of meetings on policy, military, and logistical matters. The latter includes issues regarding the press, public speeches
Press—refers to the media. A press secretary manages the President’s relationship with the media.


by the president, and other issues of public image. He constantly works with the Press Secretary and Directors of Communication to ensure that the White House projects a positive image and that it has the upper hand in political dealings. The Chief of Staff must be knowledgeable, organized, and ready to speak about issues that are fundamental to the president’s platform. Before his appointment as chief of staff, Bolten served as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and as Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy. From March 1999 through November 2000, he was Policy Director of the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign. Bolten’s role is crucial as the President’s top aid. He must not only ensure that everything under the Bush administration is going smoothly, but must also be frank with the President and make sure that he knows about key issues that will effect his policies and his public image. As necessary, the Attorney General will also participate in the discussions of the National

Public image—the way people perceive the President.

The Chief Political Strategist develops and coordinates political strategy in the White House. The Chief Political Strategist is responsible for helping to determine which policies the White House should pursue and developing recommendations for the administration’s agenda. The Strategist also determines how and to whom the administration should promote the policies. He or she devises political strategies to garner support for the policy proposals and helps members of the administration to develop their political strategies. The Strategist’s recommendations should consider not only the stance of The White House, but should also consider those of interest groups and the public. The strategist should coordinate the use of political persuasion and political capital to persuade Congress, interest groups, and the public to support the White House’s policies. Finally, the Chief Political Strategist should maintain favorable relations with as many factions as possible in order to more effectively promote policies. Very importantly, working with the Liaisons to Congress, the Chief Political Strategist will help to direct and coordinate the lobbying efforts of the White House. The Chief Political Strategist works to solidify the president’s efforts to get his agenda through Congress. He makes use of all the resources available in order to improve the president’s image and increase his support among voters.


The Communications Director is charged with developing the administration’s message and coordinating its distribution through various forms of media. The message is the key theme or idea to be emphasized and sold to the public on any given issue or day. During the 2004 Election, for instance, President Bush’s message centered on his efforts against terrorism at home and abroad. The message should highlight key priorities and present them in a favorable manner, and may also be used to spin world events. The Communications Director will also coordinate the speechwriting process for the State of the Union Address. Speechwriters must remain ultimately devoted to executing clear and concise political persuasion that supports the oratorical style of the speaker. After determining the message for any given issue, situation, or day with White House staff, the Communications Director coordinates getting the word out. Everyone in the administration should be briefed on key talking points so that they speak with one voice and present a unified front to the public distribution channels include press briefings, speeches, and newspapers. The Communications Director should collaborate with the Press Secretary, another key member of the communications team. Finally, the Communications Director is the administration’s liaison with news media, and should coordinate interviews. Maintaining President Bush’s public image is crucial, especially as his ratings fall due to some controversial policies at home and abroad. The Director of Communications must do whatever she can to ensure that the President’s initiatives are correctly portrayed in the media and she must also constantly analyze public opinion polls to improve the President’s image.

Media—refers collectively to the various sources of news: TV, newspaper, radio, etc. Spin—the act of selectively providing or carefully interpreting information with the goal of favorably influencing individuals State of the Union Address—a yearly speech by the President on the general state of the country. This speech is watched by at least 50 million people each year.

Serving essentially the same function, these liaisons work directly with members of the committees with which they work, their staffs, and any key players in the policymaking arena. As you might expect, the Liaison to the House works with House Members, the Liaison to the Senate works with Senators, and the Liaison to the NGA works with governors. These lines are not absolute, however, and very often, the three Liaisons will work closely in one united lobbying effort. Without strong liaisons to other parts of government, the President will find it nearly impossible to enact any of his legislative priorities. With the high levels of influence of the media, interest groups, and other partisan groups, the Legislative Affairs Office is integral in pro-


tecting the President’s interests in the legislative arena. The head of Legislative Affairs must maintain a strong bond with congressional members and stay informed of their proceedings. In order to ensure success in the legislative arena, liaisons must undertake a number of tasks. The liaisons’ job is to monitor and influence the proceedings in Congressional committees and the NGA to reflect the president’s agenda. As a result, they will spend the majority of their time in Congressional or NGA committees. They should identify members in Congress who support the administration on key issues and work with them to craft proposals and political strategies. Liaisons should also identify those who present opposition and choose the best way to deal with this opposition in conjunction with other of the president’s staffers. This may include trying to persuade congressmen to cross the aisle for various incentives, using the press to discredit the opposition or work with other congressmen or fellow committee members to influence the opposition, bringing more people onto “your side’s team.” Finally liaisons should work to persuade members, often with incentives to vote the party’s way. These might include a promise to assist in re-election campaigns or assurances the President or will compromise on another issue that would be important to the legislator’s constituency. It might involve a direct appeal the Member’s constituency. If the vote is particularly important, the President might be brought in to make a direct appeal to the legislator, but this should be not be used frequently.

Aisle—in Congress, Democrats and Republicans sit on different sides of the room, which is divided by an aisle. ‘Crossing the aisle’ means working with the other party. Constituency—voters.