This category covers offices of chief executives and their advisory and interdepartmental committees and commissions.
Executive offices are those held and directly controlled by mayors, governors, city managers, county supervisors, and the president of the United States. They encompass heads of local, state, and national governments. They formulate and project policy, prepare budgets, handle major emergencies, appoint and nominate leaders and judges, and work to improve the lot of constituents, among other activities.
According to a 2003 report released by the United States Conference of Mayors and Global Insight, local metropolitan areas drive the nation's economy. They accounted for 85 percent of national output and 87 percent of the nation's economic growth from 1992 to 2002. In 2002 there were 87,900 identified units of government operating in the United States, comprising 87,849 local governments, 50 state governments, and the federal government. Local governments were further subclassified as 3,043 county governments; 19,431 municipal governments; 16,506 town/township governments; 13,522 school districts; and 35,356 special districts. State and local governments took in approximately $1.3 trillion dollars in revenues in 2001 and employed 307,000 persons (full-time equivalents) for government administration alone.
The three basic types of municipal government structures in the United States are mayor-council, commission, and council-manager. Although they typically oversee relatively small geographical units, local governments may exercise great control over the daily lives of their constituents. They are charged, for example, with providing fire and police protection, waste disposal, and other services.
In the mayor-council government, the mayor is elected as the executive and usually controls the council, which is also elected. The council formulates ordinances that the mayor enforces. Some systems use a weak-mayor system, in which the mayor is subordinate to the council. Examples of large cities with mayor-council organizations are Boston, New York, Chicago, and Seattle.
In contrast, a commission government consists of several commissioners elected to serve as heads of city departments. The presiding commissioner usually acts as the mayor. Cities with commissioners include Tulsa and Salt Lake City.
A council-manager government has an elected council. The council hires a city manager to run various city departments. The city manager is the chief executive of the city and is ultimately responsible for running the government and advising the council. The council also elects a mayor to chair the council and officiate at major functions and events. Des Moines and Cincinnati have council-manager governments.
The United States Conference of Mayors was organized to improve municipal government through cooperation with the federal government. It is comprised of about 1,183 mayors from cities with a population of more than 30,000. According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2002, the largest cities by population were New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and San Diego.
The 50 state governments are structured similarly to the government of the United...