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What is the US Secretary of the Treasury?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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The United States Secretary of the Treasury is the head of the United States Treasury, the American government agency responsible for establishing financial policy and handling America's finances. The United States has had a Secretary of the Treasury ever since it was established, as having an organized treasury is critical to running a functional country. In addition to handling domestic fiscal policy, the US Secretary of the Treasury is also responsible for international monetary policy.

This is a Cabinet level position, which means that the Secretary of the Treasury is appointed by the President and he or she is subject to Senate confirmation. As with other Cabinet level officers, the US Secretary of the Treasury is usually replaced when a new Presidential administration comes into office, with Presidents generally selecting individuals who support their goals and beliefs.

In addition to running the United States Treasury, the Secretary of the Treasury also acts as an adviser to the President, keeping the President up to date with economic developments and offering suggestions which could help to build a strong monetary policy for the United States. The US Secretary of the Treasury also sits on the boards of numerous international organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as a representative of the United States.

The Department of the Treasury prints and mints all American coinage; investigates economic crimes such as forgery, tax evasion, and counterfeiting; collects all bills due to the United States; pays all American bills; and establishes economic policies ranging from interest rates to tax law. One famous bureau within the Department of the Treasury is the Internal Revenue Service, which collects taxes from Americans, but there are numerous other departments, each headed by an Undersecretary. Until 2003, the US Secretary of the Treasury also handled the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the US Customs Service, and the Secret Service, but these departments were moved to other agencies as part of a structural reorganization designed to protect the security of the United States.

The US Secretary of the Treasury is fifth in the Presidential line of succession. Unless an Acting Secretary is heading the Treasury or the Secretary of the Treasury is a non-natural citizen, this means that he or she could potentially serve as President of the United States, although this has never happened and it would be extremely unlikely. The most notable Secretary of the Treasury was also its first, Alexander Hamilton, who was appointed by George Washington.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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