A Model for Defining the Structure of the Executive Branch

We recommend that the organizational structure provided here be used as a guideline for understanding where you are positioned vertically and horizontally in your organization and as a guide for assessing how your activities interact inside your organization.

The federal government generally has four vertical levels: governmentwide, agency, bureau or business unit, and projects and programs. There are primarily two categories horizontally: line and staff (or support).



Issues that the model highlights:

  • How much do you invest at each level and in each area for line and staff functions?
  • How much do you centralize or decentralize line and staff functions — and at what levels of the organization?
  • How are the staff functions organized: as a component of a line function, separate support staffs or centralized staff support?
  • How do you train the first-line managers who often have the responsibility for both line and the application of staff functions?


Governmentwide views (a "portfolio of portfolios")

Role of government: Constitution, mission areas, sectors (health, agriculture, etc. — "portals" or functional classifications).



Department and other cross-government organizations (an agency-based portfolio)

  • Strategic management: Mission, business board (line and staff).
  • Line functions: Operations, programs, central services.
  • Staff functions: Personnel management, legal, etc.


Bureau or business-unit organizations (a business-unit portfolio)

  • Business units: Manager.
  • Line functions: Operations, programs, central services.
  • Staff functions: Personnel management, legal, etc.


Programs or projects (compete to be included in the bureau or agency portfolio)

    Tactical management:
  • Operations managers (line and staff functions).
  • Program managers (line and staff functions).
  • Managers of central services (line and staff functions).
  • At this level, there is direct management of resources (people, time, assets, technology, processes and knowledge/information) and direct responsibility for implementing policies and other legal requirements.


Underlying legislative drivers for business processes:

  • Clinger-Cohen Act.
  • Government Performance and Results Act.
  • Government Paperwork Elimination Act of 1998.
  • Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act.
  • Paperwork Reduction Act.
  • Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act.
  • Sector- or mission-specific legislation.


Seven categories of underlying supporting knowledge

  • Architectures: Business, asset management (IT architectures, buildings, etc.).
  • Business: Budgeting, capital planning, financial management.
  • Leadership: Leadership, culture.
  • Management: Planning, organizing, business processes.
  • Policies: Security, privacy.
  • Relationships: Marketing, participative government, suppliers, customers, unions.
  • Technology: Web data centers, legacy systems.

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