The President is the chief administrator of the federal government. He is responsible for all federal departments, including cabinet departments, such as the State Department, and independent agencies, such as NASA.
In his job as Chief Executive, the President is responsible for the administration of the many departments of the federal government. Thus, all of the federal employees are largely accountable to the President. It is the President's job to insure that this vast bureaucracy carries out the programs of the presidency. This is probably one of the most difficult tasks that a President faces. Arthur Schlesinger, the renowned presidential historian, wrote about the Kennedy Administration:
“The presidential government, coming to Washington aglow with new ideas and a euphoric sense that it could do no wrong, promptly collided with the feudal barons of the permanent government, entrenched in their domains and fortified by their sense of proprietorship; and the permanent government, confronted by this invasion, began almost to function as a resistance movement.”
President Truman is said to have stated, regarding his successor, Dwight Eisenhower: “He will sit here and he’ll say, Do this! Do that! And nothing will happen. Poor Ike- it won’t be a bit like the army!”
The powers of the Vice President are determined by what the Presidents have been willing to delegate the Vice President. In the twentieth century, Vice Presidents have traditionally been given ceremonial functions, such as attending funerals and other state visits. President Carter gave Vice President Mondale additional responsibilities. Since the Carter presidency, Presidents have attempted to give additional roles to the Vice President.