Federal Government Structure
Every four years, after the presidential election, the “United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions,” commonly known as the Plum Book, is published, alternately, by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
This publication contains data on over 9,000 federal civil service leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointment (e.g., positions such as agency heads and their immediate subordinates, policy executives and advisors, and aides who report to these officials). The duties of many such positions may involve advocacy of Administration policies and programs and the incumbents usually have a close and confidential working relationship with the agency head or other key officials.
Following are the major categories of positions listed:
- Executive Schedule and salary-equivalent positions paid at the rates established for levels I through V of the Executive Schedule.
- Senior Executive Service (SES) “General” positions.
- Senior Foreign Service positions.
- Schedule C positions excepted from the competitive service by the president, or by the Director, Office of Personnel Management, because of the confidential or policy-determining nature of the position duties.
- Other positions at the GS-14 and above level excepted from the competitive civil service by law because of the confidential or policy-determining nature of the position duties.
See Appendix 2 for more details on SES appointments and Appendix 3 for more details on Schedule C appointments. The appendices within the Plum Book provide additional information on the positions listed and the federal salary schedules that determine their pay.
As the official handbook of the Federal Government, the United States Government Manual provides comprehensive information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. It also includes information on quasi-official agencies; international organizations in which the United States participates; and boards, commissions, and committees.
A typical agency description includes a list of officials heading major operating units, a summary statement of the agency’s purpose and role in the Federal Government, a brief history of the agency, including its legislative or executive authority, a description of its programs and activities, and information, addresses, and phone numbers to help users locate detailed information on consumer activities, contracts and grants, employment, publications, and other matters of public interest.
The Manual appears as a special edition of the Federal Register (see 1 CFR 9.1). The Manual's focus is on programs and activities. Persons interested in detailed organizational structure, the regulatory documents of an agency, or presidential documents should refer to the Federal Register or one of its other special editions. Govinfo.gov contains the U.S. Government Manual for 1995-96 and all subsequent editions to the present. The new edition of the Manual is available annually to the Public. Documents are available as ASCII text and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.
The Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents. The Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), publishes it Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, with daily updates by 8:45 a.m. All issues of the Federal Register are available on govinfo.gov.