Learning about Government: The Department of the Treasury

The Department of the Treasury is tied with the State Department as the oldest federal executive department in the United States. It was founded in 1789 through an Act of Congress and tasked to manage all government revenue. Alexander Hamilton was nominated as the first Secretary of the Treasury by President George Washington. He was not actually President Washington’s preferred selection for the post. Robert Morris, who was ask first, declined the position and recommended Alexander Hamilton in his place.

As it turns out, Alexander Hamilton was the perfect man for the job. In just a few short years he created the nation’s financial system almost from scratch. Much the nation’s early financial success has been attributed to Hamilton’s brilliant work. To honor him, his portrait has been placed on the ten-dollar bill.

Today the Secretary of the Treasury is Jacob J. Lew. He was nominated by President Barack Obama and was sworn in on February 28, 2013. It is the job of the Secretary of the Treasury to oversee the immense and unwieldy machinery that runs the national economy.

There are many duties entailed by this responsibility. The Department of the Treasury oversees he minting, coinage, and production of all currency in the United States. It also regulates the distribution and production of postage stamps. But really, this is just scratching the surface of the duties of the Department of the Treasury. It regulates every aspect of federal finances, from supervising national banks, prosecuting tax evaders, managing public debt, to collection taxes. That is right, the dreaded Internal Revenue Service is a branch of the Department of the Treasury.

Like most executive departments, the Department of the Treasury is headquartered in Washington D.C. It currently employees almost 120,000 individuals and runs on a budget of $14 billion a year.