25 jobs in the White House and what they do
As the administrations change in the White House, the jobs inside the executive mansion attract the public’s attention more than usual. Their moves make headlines, as new names are put forward, departing advisors might kiss and tell, and even the executive chef will be getting new marching orders.
White House jobs in the Trump administration, perhaps more than others in recent history, have made news—especially for the astounding turnover rate that topped 92% by the waning days of the term. The first resignation had come within a month of Trump’s inauguration with the forced departure of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and, with four chiefs of staff, turnover in just 32 months outpaced that of the five preceding presidents’ first full terms.
Looking back, other White House jobs became household words during the Watergate scandal of the 1970s that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Caught up in the political treachery were Chuck Colson, special advisor to the president; John Ehrlichman, advisor for domestic affairs; White House counsel John Dean; chief of staff H.R. Haldeman; and communications adviser Jeb Magruder—all of whom went to prison.
On a gentler, albeit fictional note, many people know, and love, White House staffers from the popular television drama “The West Wing,” from heartthrob speechwriter Sam Seaborn played by Rob Lowe and gruff communications director Toby Ziegler played by Richard Schiff to the workaholic chief of staff Leo McGarry played by John Spencer and the brilliant press secretary C.J. Cregg portrayed by Allison Janney.
In real life, Stacker compiled a list of 25 jobs in the White House, taking a look at their responsibilities and history, by consulting official White House and government websites, news reports and interviews, historical accounts, and academic sources.
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White House chief of staff
The chief of staff position is enormously influential and involves supervising staff, controlling access to the president, and coordinating with other White House offices such as the Council of Economic Advisors, the national security staff, and the vice president. The job was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his second administration in 1939. Ron Klain will serve as President-elect Joe Biden’s chief of staff.
White House press secretary
The press secretary is the spokesperson for the president and is responsible for relations with the media. The press secretary typically holds briefings with the White House press corps. Those holding the job in the Trump administration such as Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders became well known for their handling of the president’s communications and the media.
Director of the Office of Management and Budget
The Office of Management and Budget, known as OMB, formulates budgets, manages procurement, coordinates regulatory policy, and reviews executive orders. President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Neera Tanden, who held positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations, as his head of the OMB.
Director of the White House Military Office
The Military Office handles presidential transportation, food service, and medical services at the White House. It also is responsible for the Marine helicopters that transport the president to and from the White House grounds, on board Air Force One, and at Camp David.
U.S. trade representative
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative oversees and coordinates policies on international trade, investments, and commodities, and it negotiates agreements around the world. The trade representative acts as the president’s advisor and spokesperson. The office was created by President John Kennedy in 1963, and its responsibilities were expanded by Congress in the 1970s.
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White House photographer
The White House photographer is tasked with capturing images of the presidency. Among the most notable was Pete Souza, who enjoyed extensive access to President Barack Obama in the White House. Many of his pictures of the president with his wife Michelle and visiting with children played a major role in creating and maintaining Obama’s public image.
White House chief usher
The chief usher manages about 90 staff such as florists and butlers, oversees the building and grounds of the White House, and works on events with the first family. The job typically does not change with administrations, and just 10 people have held the position in more than 130 years.
National security advisor
The national security adviser, formally the assistant to the president for national security affairs, reports directly to the president and acts as liaison to other top security officials. The adviser typically briefs the president on security issues, plans foreign travel, helps draft policy speeches, and prepares background for the president’s meetings and calls with world leaders.
Director of presidential correspondence
Running the Office of Presidential Correspondence entails handling and responding to the letters, emails, and gifts sent to the president and first family from the public. It also deals with calls made to the White House Comment Line and requests for presidential proclamations and presidential greetings. While in office, President Barack Obama asked to see a sample 10 letters each day from members of the public.
Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers
The Council of Economic Advisers is responsible for giving the president research and guidance to set domestic and international economic policy. Comprising three presidential appointees, typically highly respected professors of economics, the council is supposed to make economic forecasts and provide unbiased advice. The acting chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Tyler Goodspeed, was one of the top officials in the Trump administration who resigned the day after the violent rioting on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.
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