Who exactly is the U.S. President the boss of?

How does his power actual flow down to the federal employees? Article II of the Constitution is pretty clear where he stands in regard to the military, but it doesn’t really mention the other parts of the government.

The reason I’m asking is that I was just watching something on A&E about the Secret Service, and they mentioned that the President can’t turn down Secret Service protection. I’m curious why not (and whether this is even true of course).

The President is the boss of all people in the executive departments, including the Department of Defense (the military) the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Energy, the Department of Justice, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Agriculture, etc. An executive order (the President says, “do this.”) applies to all people working for executive departments, including the military, but not necessarily government contractors.

However, the statutes regulating the departments are passed by Congress. That’s why congressional approval is needed for changes to the tax code, for example. There is a federal statute which regulates the USSS (which is under the Department of the Treasury), and it does indeed say that the President cannot order the USSS to go away.

As to the second query, it is the law. Note the last sentence. A President would have had to sign this into law, just like any other federal law (OK I know that there are other ways like overriding a veto, etc.) I’m too lazy right now to research which prez did.

United States Code

U.S. Code as of: 01/05/99
Section 3056. Powers, authorities, and duties of United States Secret Service

  (a) Under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, the
United States Secret Service is authorized to protect the following
    (1) The President, the Vice President (or other officer next in
  the order of succession to the Office of President), the
  President-elect, and the Vice President-elect.
    (2) The immediate families of those individuals listed in
  paragraph (1).
    (3) Former Presidents and their spouses for their lifetimes,
  except that protection of a spouse shall terminate in the event
  of remarriage unless the former President did not serve as
  President prior to January 1, 1997, in which case, former
  Presidents and their spouses for a period of not more than ten
  years from the date a former President leaves office, except that
      (A) protection of a spouse shall terminate in the event of
    remarriage or the divorce from, or death of a former President;
      (B) should the death of a President occur while in office or
    within one year after leaving office, the spouse shall receive
    protection for one year from the time of such death:
  Provided, That the Secretary of the Treasury shall have the
  authority to direct the Secret Service to provide temporary
  protection for any of these individuals at any time if the
  Secretary of the Treasury or designee determines that information
  or conditions warrant such protection.
    (4) Children of a former President who are under 16 years of
  age for a period not to exceed ten years or upon the child
  becoming 16 years of age, whichever comes first.
    (5) Visiting heads of foreign states or foreign governments.
    (6) Other distinguished foreign visitors to the United States
  and official representatives of the United States performing
  special missions abroad when the President directs that such
  protection be provided.
    (7) Major Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates and,
  within 120 days of the general Presidential election, the spouses
  of such candidates. As used in this paragraph, the term ''major
  Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates'' means those
  individuals identified as such by the Secretary of the Treasury
  after consultation with an advisory committee consisting of the
  Speaker of the House of Representatives, the minority leader of
  the House of Representatives, the majority and minority leaders
  of the Senate, and one additional member selected by the other
  members of the committee.
The protection authorized in paragraphs (2) through (7) may be

There is one group of employees that serves literally at the pleasure of the President: The United States Marine Band, also known since Thomas Jefferson’s administration as, “The President’s Own”. Created by an act of Congress in 1798, its unique mission is to provide music for the President.

He’s not the boss of me!