US President George Washington face on o

Executive Orders

Non-legislative actions are important to identify and track for a few reasons. From a federalism point of view, executive actions raise concerns about the tendency to delegate power from Congress and Senate to administrative agencies. Yet, as the data in this series indicate below, there are many different kinds of presidential actions. Our dashboard indicates that more research is needed to understand the ways in which traditional executive orders are being substituted in recent decades by  other kinds of major presidential actions, including notices, proclamations, memoranda, and determinations

Image by Library of Congress
Executive Actions Introduction

As the data in this series indicate below, the use of executive orders has varied wildly over different periods in American history. Since the first term of George Washington, there have been more than 16,000 executive actions. While 36% of those orders were issued by two presidents alone (Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt), our dashboard, below, suggests that there is less dramatic variation between presidents (and between parties) when measured by average per year in office. Recent empirical analysis also suggests that presidents have increasingly substituted the use of executive orders with other types of executive action. 



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