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US Government Information: Executive Orders and Proclamations

What are executive orders, proclamations, and directives?

  • Executive Orders are the formal means through which the President of the United States prescribes the conduct of business in the Executive Branch. They relate to how and what executive agencies do.
  • Proclamations, unlike executive orders, are aimed at those outside of the government. Proclamations can grant presidential pardons, commemorate or celebrate an occasion or group, call attention to events, or make statements of policy.
  • Presidential Directives have been called different names by various administrations.
    • National Security Action Memoranda (NSAMs): Kennedy and Johnson
    • National Security Decision Memoranda (NSDMs): Nixon and Ford
    • Presidential Directives (PDs): Carter
    • National Security Decision Directives (NSDDs): Reagan
    • National Security Directives (NSDs): George H. W. Bush
    • Presidential Decision Directives (PDDs): Clinton
    • National Security Presidential Directives (NSPDs): George W. Bush
    • Presidential Policy Directives (PPDs): Obama

Executive orders, proclamations, directives

The American Presidency Project Executive Orders

Presidential Directives on National Security, Part I: From Truman to Clinton
Presidential Directives on National Security, Part II: From Harry Truman to George W. Bush

The two parts of this Digital National Security Archive collection contain every presidential directive released to date, from the Truman administration through the George W. Bush administration. (All of the documents in Part II became available after the publication of Part I.) These directives concern foreign affairs, defense and arms control policy, intelligence and counterterrorist activities, and international economic policy.

Presidential Directives and Executive Orders (Federation of American Scientists)
Truman through Obama.

Compilation of Presidential Documents
(Weekly, 1965-2009; Daily, 2009-present)
Includes all documents and statements issued by the White House.

Public Papers of the Presidents.

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 3 (the President). [Washington, DC: Office of the Federal Register] Proclamations and Executive Orders are published as supplements to the CFR Title 3. The first volume published in 1944 covered 1943; supplements covering the calendar year are published annually.Cumulative issues are published periodically.

Federal Register (1936-present). [Washington, DC: Office of the Federal Register] Published daily when government operating, includes Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders.


Presidential Executive Orders, no.1(1845:June 26)-no.7403(1936:June 26) Full text on microfilm.

Indexes to executive orders (not full text)

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