The U.S. Secret Service: An Examination and Analysis of Its Evolving Missions
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
The U.S. Secret Service has two missions—criminal investigations and protection. Criminal
investigation activities, which have expanded since its inception as a small anti-counterfeiting
operation at the end of the Civil War, now encompass financial crimes, identity theft,
counterfeiting, computer fraud, and computer-based attacks on the nation’s financial, banking,
and telecommunications infrastructure, among other areas. Protection activities, which have
expanded and evolved since the 1890s, include the safety and security of the President, Vice
President, their families, and other identified individuals and locations.
In March 2003, the U.S. Secret Service was transferred from the Department of the Treasury to
the Department of Homeland Security as a distinct entity. Prior to enactment of the Homeland
Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296), the U.S. Secret Service had been part of the Treasury
Department for over 100 years.
During an April 2008 hearing on the FY2009 budget request for the U.S. Secret Service,
Members of Congress raised questions related to the missions and organizational location of the
Service. Are the two missions of the Service compatible and how should they be prioritized? Is
the Department of Homeland Security the most appropriate organizational and administrative
location for the Secret Service? These, and other policy questions, have been raised and addressed
at different times by Congress and various administrations during the long history of the Service.
Additionally, there has been increased interest in the Service due to the recent inaugural security
operations and the protection of President Barack Obama. Some may contend that these and other
questions call for renewed attention given the recent increase in demand for the Service’s th
protection function (for example, see P.L. 110-326 enacted by the 110 Congress) and the advent
of new technology used in financial crimes.
This report will be updated when congressional or executive branch actions warrant.
Introduc tion ..................................................................................................................................... 1
U.S. Secret Service Missions...........................................................................................................1
In vestigations ............................................................................................................................ 2
Protec ti on .................................................................................................................................. 2
Historical Overview of USSS Statutes............................................................................................4
Miss ions .................................................................................................................................. 12
Orga niza tion ................................................................................................................... ......... 13
Department of the Treasury’s Mission..............................................................................13
Department of Homeland Security’s Mission and National Homeland Security
St rategy .......................................................................................................................... 14
Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................... 16
Table 1. FY2008 and FY2009 Appropriations for the U.S. Secret Service....................................4
Appendix. Statutes Addressing U.S. Secret Service Activities.....................................................17
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................19
The U.S. Secret Service (USSS), a distinct entity within the Department of Homeland Security 1
(DHS), has two missions—criminal investigations and protection. Criminal investigation
activities encompass financial crimes, identity theft, counterfeiting, computer fraud, and
computer-based attacks on the nation’s financial, banking, and telecommunications infrastructure.
The protection mission is the most prominent of the two, covering the President, Vice President,
their families, former Presidents, and major candidates for those offices, along with the White
House and the Vice President’s residence (through the Service’s Uniformed Division). Protective
duties of the Service also extend to foreign missions in the District of Columbia and to designated
individuals, such as the Homeland Security Secretary and visiting foreign dignitaries. Separate
from these specific mandated assignments, USSS is responsible for certain security activities such
as National Special Security Events (NSSEs), which include the recent inaugural ceremony of 2
President Obama, the major party quadrennial national conventions, as well as international
conferences and events held in the United States.
Over the past century, USSS’s protection mission has received more congressional action than its 3
investigation mission, which was the agency’s initial responsibility when it was created in 1865. th
Most recently, the 110 Congress enacted P.L. 110-326, “Former Vice President Protection Act of
2008,” which provided Vice Presidents and their families USSS protection for six months after
leaving office. Additionally, a House committee conducted a hearing in April 2008 on the 4
FY2009 budget request and the issue of the Service’s presidential candidate protection. This
report frames potential policy questions concerning the Service’s mission and organization
through an examination of the USSS history and its statutory authorities, mission, and present
activities within DHS.
Since 1865, USSS has evolved into a federal law enforcement agency with statutory authority to
conduct criminal investigations and protect specific federal officials, individuals, and sites. 5
Congress transferred USSS to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2002. Previously,
it had been part of the U.S. Department of Treasury, since its inception in 1865.
1 The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) transferred USSS to the newly created DHS. All of the Service’s
functions were transferred and it was to remain a “distinct” entity within DHS. Since being transferred to DHS in 2003,
the USSS has continued to execute its investigative and protection missions.
2 USSS would have been involved in President Obama’s inauguration even if it had not been an NSSE because the
Service is responsible for protecting the president.
3 Of the 43 statutes referenced in this report, 26 were directly related to USSS’s protection mission.
4 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Fiscal Year 2009 Budget
for Secret Service’s Candidate Protection, 110th Cong., 2nd sess., April 3, 2008.
5 116 Stat. 2224.
The original mission of the Service was to investigate the counterfeiting of United States
currency. This mission has been expanded throughout the agency’s history through presidential, 6
departmental, and congressional action. At times, early in the agency’s history, Secret Service
agents conducted investigations that were not related to financial system crimes. Examples
include the investigation of the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1860s and counter-espionage activities 7
in the United States during World War I.
Today, USSS conducts criminal investigations into counterfeiting and financial crimes.8 Within
the investigative mission area is the USSS’s forensic services and investigative support unit.
USSS forensic services personnel conduct analyses of evidence, some of which includes
documents, fingerprints, false identification documents, and credit cards, to assist in USSS 9
investigations. USSS’s investigative support is also responsible for developing and implementing
a criminal and investigative intelligence program. One of the aspects of this program is the
Criminal Research Specialist Program, which provides intelligence analysis related to
infrastructure protection, conducts forensic financial analysis, and provides research and 10
analytical support to USSS criminal investigations. Additionally, in 1994, Congress mandated
that USSS provide forensic and technical assistance to the National Center for Missing and 11
From protecting President Grover Cleveland in 1894 on a part-time basis to the constant
protection of President Obama, the USSS history of protection has been directed by unofficial
decisions (such as the protection of President Cleveland) and congressional mandate (such as the
protection of major presidential candidates). USSS protection activities have increased over the
years, with only one instance of a specified type of protectee being removed from the authorized 12
For the first time, in 2008, USSS protected a spouse of a former President who was also a
presidential candidate, and it is protecting a Vice-President who is not running for his political
6 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: Investigative Mission,”
available at http://www.secretservice.gov/investigations.shtml.
7 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: Secret Service History,”
available at http://www.secretservice.gov/history.shtml.
8 Financial crimes include identity theft, counterfeit and fraudulent identification, electronic access fraud, computer
fraud, forgery, money laundering, electronic benefits transfer fraud, asset forfeiture, and advance fee. For a detailed
definition of each of these crimes, see the U.S. Secret Service’s website on “Criminal Investigations,” available at
9 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: Forensic Services,”
website available at http://www.secretservice.gov/forensics.shtml.
10 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: Investigative Support,”
website available at http://www.secretservice.gov/investigative_support.shtml.
11 108 Stat. 2043.
12 91 Stat. 3 authorized USSS to continue to protect specific federal officials who had received protection during the
term of their employment; this was repealed in 1984 (98 Stat. 3110).
party’s nomination. The following are the current individuals authorized USSS protection in 18
• President, Vice President, President and Vice President-elect;13
• the immediate families of those listed above;14
• former Presidents and their spouses;15
• former Presidents’ children under the age of 16;
• visiting heads of foreign states or governments;
• distinguished foreign visitors and official United States representatives on special
• major presidential and vice presidential candidates and, within 120 days of the 16
general presidential elections, their spouses; and
• former Vice Presidents, their spouses, and their children under the age of 16.17
Similar to the evolution of who has been protected by USSS, protection operations have also
evolved. Originally, USSS protection entailed agents being, what could be described as,
“bodyguards.” Now protection includes not only the presence of agents in close proximity of the 18
protectee, but also advance security surveys of locations to be visited, coordination with state
and local enforcement entities, and intelligence analysis of present and future threats. The USSS
protection mission uses human resources and physical barriers, technology, and a review of 19
critical infrastructures and their vulnerabilities. Statutes also authorize USSS to conduct such
other activities as participating in the planning, coordination, and implementation of security
operations at special events of national significance, and providing forensic and investigative 20
assistance involving missing or exploited children.
In recent years Congress has appropriated approximately $1.4 billion annually for the USSS. The
following table provides the Service’s FY2008 and FY2009 appropriation amounts.
13 This protection can not be declined.
14 From this bullet forward, all of these individuals can decline protection.
15 Former Presidents and spouses may receive protection for their lifetime, unless they serve in office after January 1,
1997 or decline the protection. If they serve after January 1, 1997, they are authorized to receive protection for 10 years
after the date of leaving office and may decline the protection at any time.
16 “Major” presidential and vice presidential candidates are determined by the DHS Secretary after consulting with an
advisory committee. The advisory committee consists of the Speaker and minority leader of the House of
Representatives, Senate majority and minority leaders, and one other member chosen by the committee.
17 P.L. 110-326. This protection of former Vice Presidents and their families is for a period of not more than six months
after the date the Vice President leaves office.
18 Some of the issues addressed during an advanced survey include the assessment of manpower and equipment needs,
and the location of hospitals. See USSS website on “Protection,” available at http://www.secretservice.gov/
19 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: How Protection Works,”
website available at http://www.secretservice.gov/protection_works.shtml.
20 18 U.S.C. 3056(e)-(f).
Table 1. FY2008 and FY2009 Appropriations for the
U.S. Secret Service
(Amounts in millions)
Programs and Activities FY2008 FY2009
Protection of persons and facilities $694 $706
Protective intelligence activities $58 $60
National Special Security Events $1 $1
Presidential candidate nominee protection $85 $41
White House mail screening $16 $34
Management and administration $176 $182
Rowley Training Center $52 $53
Domestic field operations $220 $242
International field operations $26 $30
Electronic crimes program $45 $52
Forensic support for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children $8 $8
Acquisition, construction, and improvements $4 $4
Total $1,385 $1,413
Source: P.L. 110-161 and P.L. 110-329.
The “Investigation Mission” and “Protection Mission” have distinctive characteristics and
histories, and each has been affected by unofficial decisions and congressional action. However,
its protective mission has received the most congressional attention through legislative action,
and has been reinforced by the Service’s transfer to DHS following the terrorist attacks on 21
September 11, 2001. Nonetheless, the investigation mission also has expanded. These missions
are addressed below.
It should be noted that since USSS’s transfer to DHS, any statute still in effect authorizing or
requiring the Treasury Secretary to perform some function connected to the USSS’s previous
statutory responsibilities has now been assumed by the DHS Secretary. This report does not detail
every law enacted that has affected USSS, but instead attempts to identify important
congressional actions that addressed the role and responsibility of the Service. Additionally, the
Appendix to this report provides a list and brief description of the statutes identified in this
21 Of the 43 statutes referenced in this report, 26 of them affect the service’s protection mission.
In 1806, Congress passed the Enforcement of Counterfeiting Prevention Act, which enabled U.S. 22
marshals and district attorneys to investigate and prosecute counterfeiters. The authority to 23
investigate counterfeiting was later transferred to the Department of Treasury (TREAS) in 1860.
In order to regulate U.S. currency and increase sanctions against counterfeiters, Congress passed 24
the National Currency Act in 1863. Also in 1863, the Treasury Secretary directed the Office of 25
the Solicitor of Treasury to assume the department’s role in investigating counterfeiting.
Counterfeiting continued to be a problem for the federal government throughout the Civil War; 26
and by 1865, between one-third and one-half of all U.S. currency in circulation was counterfeit.
As a result of this currency crisis, the Treasury Secretary established the Secret Service Division 27
(SSD), within the Office of the Solicitor of Treasury in 1865. At the July 5, 1865, swearing in of
the new chief of the SSD, William P. Wood, Treasury Secretary Hugh McCulloch stated “your 28
main objective is to restore public confidence in the money of the country.” SSD’s primary
responsibility was to investigate counterfeiting, forging, and the altering of United States’ 29
currency and securities.
The Office of Solicitor of the Treasury administered the SSD until 1879.30 Statutory recognition th
was given to SSD in 1882 when the 47 Congress appropriated funds, as follows.
SECRET SERVICE DIVISION.—For one chief, three thousand five hundred dollars; one
chief clerk, two thousand dollars; one clerk of class four; two clerks of class two; one clerk
of class one; one clerk at one thousand dollars; and one attendant at six hundred and eighty 31
dollars; in all, twelve thousand nine hundred and eighty dollars;
The investigation of counterfeiting continued to be the service’s only mission until 1894, when it 32
acquired its protection function.
In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson directed the Treasury Secretary to have SSD investigate
espionage in the United States, which expanded on its limited espionage mission conducted
22 2 Stat. 404.
23 12 Stat. 102.
24 12 Stat. 665.
25 The U.S. National Archives & Records Administration, “Records of the U.S. Secret Service,” website available at
26 Philip H. Melanson, and Peter F. Stevens, The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency, New
York, 2002, Carroll & Graf Publishers, p. 4.
27 The U.S. National Archives & Records Administration, “Records of the U.S. Secret Service,” website available at
28 Philip H. Melanson, and Peter F. Stevens, The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency, p. 3.
29 The U.S. National Archives & Records Administration, “Records of the U.S. Secret Service,” website available at
30 Ibid. The Office of Solicitor of the Treasury was transferred to the Department of Justice in 1870 (16 Stat. 162), but
continued to administer the SSD until 1879 even though the SSD remained within the Treasury Department.
31 22 Stat. 230.
32 The protection mission, however, did not appear in statute until 1906.
during the Spanish-American War in 1898.33 This mission was phased out at the end of World
War I, similar to its espionage mission ending following the Spanish-American War.
In the first half of the 20th Century, Congress continued to authorize the Treasury Secretary to
“direct and use” SSD to “detect, arrest, and deliver into custody of the United States marshal 34
having jurisdiction any person or persons violating” counterfeit laws. In 1948, SSD was also
authorized to investigate crimes against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, federal land 35
banks, joint-stock land banks, and national farm loan associations. As throughout USSS’s 36
history, Congress continued to amend the Service’s investigation mission.
Due to the increased use of computers and electronic devices in financial crime, Congress, in 37
1984, authorized USSS to investigate violations related to credit card and computer fraud. Two
years later in 1986, the Treasury Police Force was merged into the Secret Service Uniformed 38
Division as part of its protection mission.
In the 1990s, Congress continued to amend laws affecting the investigation, prosecution, and
punishment of crimes against United States financial systems. One authorized USSS investigation
of crimes against financial systems by authorizing the Service to conduct civil or criminal
investigations of federally insured financial institutions. This investigation jurisdiction was 39
concurrent with the Department of Justice’s investigation authority. Another law was the Violent
Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-322), which made international
manufacturing, trafficking, and possessing of United States currency a crime as if it were
committed in the United States. Congress also enacted laws related to telemarketing fraud (P.L.
105-184), and identity theft (P.L. 105-318). Both telemarketing and identity theft are used in
committing financial fraud and crime.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress enacted the USA PATRIOT 40
Act. Among numerous provisions addressing the protection of the United States financial
systems and electronic device crimes, the act contains a provision that authorizes the Service to
establish nationwide electronic crime task forces to assist law enforcement, private sector, and 41
academic entities in detecting and suppressing computer-based crimes.
33 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: Secret Service History,”
website available at http://www.secretservice.gov/history.shtml.
34 44 Stat. 918, and 48 Stat. 178.
35 62 Stat. 818.
36 76 Stat. 809 authorizes reimbursement to USSS for funds expended in purchasing counterfeit currency.
37 98 Stat. 2192. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: Secret
Service History,” website available at http://www.secretservice.gov/history.shtml.
38 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: Secret Service History,”
website available at http://www.secretservice.gov/history.shtml.
39 104 Stat. 1427.
40 P.L. 107-56.
41 115 Stat. 277.
In 1894, SSD began (unofficially) to protect President Grover Cleveland on a part-time basis. In 42
fact, USSS agents guarded him and his family at their vacation home in the Summer of 1894.
President William McKinley also received SSD protection during the Spanish-American War and 43
limited protection following the end of the war. There were three SSD agents present when
President McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo, New York, but reportedly not fully in charge of 44
the protection mission.
Following the assassination of President McKinley, in 1901, Congress informally requested SSD 45
to protect the President. Five years later Congress, for the first time, appropriated funds for the
protection of the President with the passage of the Sundry Civil Expenses Act for 1907 (enacted 46
Even as the SSD’s protection mission was authorized by Congress through statute, the Service
continued to investigate counterfeiting. Additionally, as with its investigation into the Ku Klux
Klan, SSD began another task outside the purview of its original mandate; the investigation of 47
land fraud in the western United States in the early 1900s.
In 1908, SSD’s protection mission was expanded to include the President-elect.48 In that same
year, President Theodore Roosevelt transferred a number of SSD agents to the Department of 49
Justice, which served as the foundation for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Annual
congressional authorization of the mandate to protect the President and President-elect began in 50
42 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: Secret Service History,”
website available at http://www.secretservice.gov/history.shtml, and Frederick Kaiser, “Origins of Secret Service
Protection of the President: Personal, Interagency, and Institutional Conflict,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, 1988,
vol. XVIII, num. 1, p. 102. These early protective activities violated the strictures in the Service’s appropriations that
limited it to counterfeiting investigations.
43 Frederick Kaiser, “Origins of Secret Service Protection of the President: Personal, Interagency, and Institutional
Conflict,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, 1988, vol. XVIII, no. 1, p. 112.
45 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: Secret Service History,”
website available at http://www.secretservice.gov/history.shtml. For further information on presidential assassinations,
see CRS Report RS20821, Direct Assaults Against Presidents, Presidents-Elect, and Candidates, by Frederick M.
46 34 Stat. 708.
47 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: Secret Service History,”
website available at http://www.secretservice.gov/history.shtml. According to the USSS, millions of acres were
returned to the federal government as a result of the Service’s investigations. In this case, Service agents were
temporarily assigned to the Departments of Justice and Interior to conduct the investigations, as neither department had
a permanent investigation force.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: Secret Service History,”
website available at http://www.secretservice.gov/history.shtml.
50 38 Stat. 23. Congress continued to authorize this protection annually until 1951, when it permanently authorized
USSS’s protective mission in statute (65 Stat. 122).
During World War I threats began to arrive at the White House, which resulted in a 1917 law 51
making it a crime to threaten the President. Additionally, in that same year, Congress authorized 52
SSD to protect the President’s immediate family.
As part of increasing the protection of the President and the President’s family, the White House
Police Force was created in 1922 to secure and patrol the Executive Mansion and grounds in
Washington, DC. Initially, the White House Police Force was not supervised or administered by
SSD; instead, the President or his appointed representative supervised the White House Police 53
Force. In 1930, however, Congress mandated that the White House Police Force be supervised 54
by the SSD. In 1943, Congress appropriated funding, for the first time, for both the investigation
and protection mission, specifically for: “suppressing” counterfeiting and “other” crimes;
protecting the President, the President-elect, and their immediate families; and providing funding 55
for the White House Police Force.
In 1951, Congress permanently authorized the “U.S. Secret Service” to protect the President, his 56
immediate family, the President-elect, and the Vice President—if the Vice President so desired. 57
In 1954, Congress used the title “U.S. Secret Service” in an appropriation act.
Eleven years after permanently authorizing USSS’s protection mission, Congress called for the 58
protection of the Vice President (or the next officer to succeed the President), the Vice
President-elect, and each former President “at his request” for “a reasonable period after he leaves 59
office.” In 1963, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Congress enacted
legislation that authorized protection for Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy and her children for two 60
In 1965, Congress authorized permanent protection for former Presidents and their spouses for 61
the duration of their lives, and protection of their children until age 16. Also in that year,
Congress increased USSS law enforcement responsibilities by authorizing the Service’s agents to 62
make arrests without warrant for crimes committed in their presence.
The initial protection of Mrs. Kennedy (a widow of a former President) was not extended.63
Congress, in 1967, authorized protection to former Presidents’ widows and minor children until 6465
March 1, 1969. This protection became permanent in 1968. USSS’s protection mission was
51 39 Stat. 919.
52 40 Stat. 120.
53 42 Stat. 841.
54 46 Stat. 328.
55 57 Stat. 259-260.
56 65 Stat. 122.
57 67 Stat. 68. The U.S. National Archives & Records Administration, “Records of the U.S. Secret Service,” website
available at http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/087.html.
58 From 1951 to 1962, the Vice President was protected by USSS if “he so desired.”
59 76 Stat. 956.
60 77 Stat. 348.
61 79 Stat. 791.
62 79 Stat. 890.
63 79 Stat. 791.
64 81 Stat. 466.
furthered expanded in that same year following the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy (a
presidential candidate). Congress authorized the Treasury Secretary to determine which 66
presidential and vice presidential candidates should receive USSS protection. An advisory
committee was established to assist the Treasury Secretary in determining what candidates could
receive protection. The committee included the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the
minority leader of the House of Representatives, the Senate majority and minority leaders, and 67
one additional member selected by the committee.
Following a decade of expanding USSS’s protection mission, Congress further amended this
mission, and renamed the White House Police Force as the Executive Protection Service (EPS) in
• the Executive Mansion and grounds in the District of Columbia (D.C.);
• any building with presidential offices;
• the President and immediate family;
• foreign diplomatic missions located in the metropolitan D.C. area; and
• foreign diplomatic missions located in the United States, its territories, and its 68
possessions—as directed by the President.
EPS was renamed the “Secret Service Uniformed Division” in 1977.69
Along with the protection of foreign diplomatic missions, Congress, in 1971, authorized USSS to
protect visiting heads of foreign states, and other distinguished foreign visitors—at the direction 70
of the President. Congress also authorized the President to direct the protection of United States’ 71
official representatives on special missions abroad. Additionally, in 1971, Congress established
criminal penalties for a person who “ ... knowingly and willfully obstructs, resists, or interferes
with an agent of the United States engaged in the performance ... ” of USSS’s protection 72
As Congress increased the authority of the USSS to protect foreign diplomatic missions and
visitors, it once again expanded protection, this time in 1975, to include the Vice President’s 73
immediate family. Congress further refined the protection mission in the Presidential Protection
Assistance Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-524) by regulating the number and types of property to be
65 82 Stat. 1198.
66 82 Stat. 170. Presidential and vice presidential candidates could decline protection.
68 84 Stat. 74-75. USSS states, on their website, that it assumed the protection of foreign diplomatic missions outside of
the metropolitan D.C. area in 1975. This document is available at http://www.secretservice.gov/history.shtml.
69 91 Stat. 1371.
70 84 Stat. 1941. One of the “distinguished foreign visitors” to receive USSS protection was Pope Benedict in April
72 84 Stat. 1892.
73 88 Stat. 1765.
protected by USSS.74 Also in 1976, Congress further expanded the list of who was eligible for 75
USSS protection by adding presidential and vice presidential candidate spouses. The
“protectee” list was again expanded in 1977, when Congress authorized the USSS to continue to 76
protect specified federal officials and their families.
The list was increased with the addition of former Vice Presidents and their spouses for a period 77
to be determined by the President. Temporary residences of the President and Vice President
were designated (as determined by the Treasury Secretary) as property that could be protected if 78
occupied in 1982.
For the first time in 1984, Congress enacted a consolidated list—from earlier statutes—of
individuals authorized USSS protection. The statute amended 18 U.S.C. §3056, “Powers, 79
authorities, and duties of United States Secret Service.” In 1994, the protection of former 80
Presidents and their spouses was limited to 10 years after the President leaves office.
The list of “protectees” has also been affected by presidential directives. As an example, in 1986, 81
the President directed USSS to protect the spouses of visiting heads of foreign states. Any
protectee may decline USSS protection except the President, the Vice President, the President-82
elect, or the Vice President-elect.
As the federal government began to address terrorist threats at the end of the 1990s, President
William J. Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive 62 (PDD 62)—“Protection Against 83
Unconventional Threats to the Homeland and Americans Overseas” on May 22, 1998. PDD 62
established a framework for federal department and agency counter-terrorism programs that
addressed the issues of terrorist apprehension and prosecution, increased transportation security,
enhanced emergency response, and enhanced cyber security. PDD 62 also designated specific 84
federal departments and agencies as the “lead” agencies in the event of terrorist attacks. The
74 90 Stat. 2475. This activity arose in the aftermath of concerns that the security arrangements at multiple private
residences were excessive and not adequately justified. See House Committee on Government Operations,
Expenditures of Federal Funds in Support of Presidential Properties, H.Rept. 93-1052 (GPO, 1974), pp. 1-6.
75 90 Stat. 1239.
76 91 Stat. 3. The individual had to be an official who had been receiving USSS protection before 1977, and the
President had to determine the former official still needed protection. This provision was repealed in 1984. 98 Stat.
77 94 Stat. 2740.
78 96 Stat. 1451.
79 98 Stat. 3110.
80 108 Stat. 2412-2413. “The protection of a former President will end ten years from the date a former President leaves
office, if the President served in office after January 1, 1997. Protection of the spouse of a former President will
terminate in the event of remarriage or divorce from a former President. If the President dies in office or within one
year of office, the spouse will receive protection for one year from the time of death. Provided, that the Department of
Homeland Security Secretary has the authority to direct USSS to provide temporary protection for any of these
individuals at anytime the Secretary or designee determines that conditions or information warrant such protection.” 18
81 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: Secret Service History,”
website available at http://www.secretservice.gov/history.shtml.
82 President Richard M. Nixon declined USSS protection after leaving office.
83 Additionally, in 1995 a portion of Pennsylvania Avenue was closed off to vehicular traffic due to the bombing of the
James Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
84 Presidential Decision Directive 62 is classified. The White House issued a fact sheet abstract about it, and the
Service was designated as the lead agency with the leadership role in the planning,
implementation, and coordination of operational security for events of national significance—as
designated by the President.
On December 19, 2000, President Clinton signed P.L. 106-544, the Presidential Threat Protection
Act of 2000, authorizing the USSS—when directed by the President—to plan, coordinate, and 85
implement security operations at special events of national significance. The special events were
entitled National Special Security Events (NSSEs). Some events categorized as NSSEs include
presidential inaugurations, major international summits held in the United States, major sporting
events, and presidential nominating conventions. Among other actions, this act also established
the National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) within USSS. Congress required NTAC to
provide the following assistance to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies:
• threat assessment training;
• consulting on complex threat assessment cases;
• researching threat assessment and targeted violence;
• promoting standardization of federal, state, and local threat assessments and
• other threat assessment activities, as determined by the DHS Secretary.86
In light of the historical information presented above on the evolution of the statutory foundation
for the USSS and its present budget authority, Congress might wish to consider the following
policy questions, among others.
• Should Congress consider what is the optimum or preferred mission of the USSS
and whether the mission should consist of both investigation and protection?
• Is the current allocation of resources, with the majority dedicated to the
protection mission, appropriate?
• Five years after the establishment of DHS, is this department the most
appropriate administrative location for the USSS?
• What are the advantages and disadvantages of alternative organizational
arrangements, including the transfer of some functions and personnel back to the
Federation of American Scientists has posted an “unclassified abstract” said to be “derived from” PDD 62, available at
85 114 Stat. 2716.
The two USSS missions—investigation and protection—have evolved over 143 years. Its original
and oldest mission, which began in 1865, is its investigation mission. Statutorily, the protection
mission did not begin until 1906. In FY2009, however, the protection mission received 60% of
the agency’s funding and employed approximately 73% of its full-time equivalents (FTE). In
FY2009, the protection mission was appropriated approximately $842 million, and the 87
investigation mission was appropriated $324 million. Additionally, according to USSS FY2009
congressional justification, the FY2008 protection mission’s FTE is 4,850, compared to the
investigation mission’s FTE of 1,850.
As described earlier in this report, USSS’s protection mission employs the majority of the
Service’s agents and receives a larger share of the agency’s resources. Additionally, the majority
of congressional action concerning USSS has been related to its protection mission. This
difference may be the result of the costs associated with an increase in protecting individuals,
events, and facilities. The relevant statutes identify what federal officials are authorized, through
statute, USSS protection; the role and responsibilities of the Secret Service Uniform Division; and
the Service’s role in security for NSSEs.
While Congress has maintained USSS’s role in investigating financial crimes, congressional
action primarily has addressed, and continues to address the Service’s protection mission. An
example of this is Congress’ enactment of P.L. 110-326, the “Former Vice President Protection
Act of 2008,” which requires the Service to protect former Vice Presidents, their spouses, and
minor children for a period up to six months after leaving office. Another example of
congressional interest in the Service’s protection mission occurred in the FY2008 Consolidated
Appropriations Act, when Congress specifically stated that the USSS could not use any funds to
protect any federal department head, except the DHS Secretary, unless the Service is 88
One could argue, potential terrorist attacks have resulted in an increase in the need for the
Service’s protection activities. The Service’s protection mission has increased and become more
“urgent” due to the increase in terrorist threats and the expanded arsenal of weapons that terrorists 89
could use in an assassination attempt or attacks on facilities. The USSS transfer from the
Treasury Department to DHS indicates this change.
The establishment of a single mission, or a distinct primary and secondary mission, for the USSS
is one option for Congress in light of this increased terrorist threat. One argument for this is that
the majority of the Service’s resources are used for its protection mission, and that Congress has
raised the issue of the Service’s competing missions of protection and investigation. It can be
argued, however, that the Service trains its agents in both investigations and protection with no
loss of a protectee in the last 45 years. Some have argued, however, that there needs to be an
independent examination of the Service’s dual mission to evaluate the effectiveness of USSS’s
87 P.L. 110-329, Title II.
88 P.L. 110-161, Div. E, Title V, Sec. 516.
89 Philip H. Melanson, and Peter F. Stevens, The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency, p. 333.
training.90 If there were an evaluation of the Service’s two missions, it might be determined that it
is ineffective for the USSS to conduct its protection mission and investigate financial crimes.
Specifically, in 2008, USSS is engaged in an increased protection workload which includes
protection of major presidential candidates, ensuring security for the 2008 presidential
nominating conventions, preparing for the transfer of presidential administrations and the January
protection. Members expressed concern with the Service’s ability to meet the demands of its 92
dual mission. USSS Director, Mark Sullivan stated, at the hearing, that the Service has
“initiated” candidate protection approximately 18 months before the general election, the earliest 93
it has ever begun protection. Director Sullivan also stated that the Service has employed
approximately 1,000 Transportation Security Administration screeners, also within DHS, to 94
augment the Service’s uniform division’s officers for security screening at campaign functions.
As one examines the placement of the Service in DHS following the terrorist attacks of
September 11, 2001, it might be useful to examine the missions of the Departments of Treasury
and Homeland Security, and the Homeland Security Council’s National Strategy for Homeland 95
The Department of the Treasury’s mission is to “Serve the American people and strengthen
national security by managing the Government’s finances effectively, promoting economic
growth and stability, ensuring the safety, soundness, and security of the U.S. and international 96
finance systems.” Specifically, the Department of the Treasury is authorized to establish a
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which would, among other activities, identify
possible criminal activity to appropriate law enforcement entities; support criminal financial
investigations and prosecutions; determine emerging money laundering and financial crime
trends; and support intelligence and counterintelligence activities to protect against international 97
terrorism. The Department of the Treasury also has an Office of Intelligence and Analysis which
is responsible for the “receipt, analysis, collation, and dissemination” of foreign intelligence and 98
counterintelligence related to the Department of Treasury’s operations and responsibilities.
Finally, within the Department of Treasury, there is an Office of Terrorism and Financial
90 Philip H. Melanson, and Peter F. Stevens, The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency, p. 335.
91 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Appropriation’s Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Fiscal Year 2009
Budget for Secret Service’s Candidate Protection, hearing, 110th Cong., 2nd sess., April 3, 2008, p. 2.
92 Ibid., p. 3.
93 Ibid., p. 4.
94 Ibid., p. 8. At the hearing USSS Director Sullivan stated that it costs approximately $44,000 a day to protect a
95 The homeland security strategy is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/homeland/nshs/NSHS.pdf.
96 U.S. Department of Treasury, “Duties and Functions: Mission,” available at http://www.treas.gov/education/duties/.
97 31 U.S.C. 310(C).
98 31 U.S.C. 311(a)(2).
Intelligence, whose functions include providing policy, strategic, and operational direction
• combating terrorist financing; and
• combating financial crimes, including money laundering, counterfeiting, and 99
other offenses threatening the integrity of banking and financial systems.
These functions are similar to elements of the USSS investigation mission.
DHS’s mission statement reads “We will lead the unified national effort to secure America. We
will prevent and deter terrorist attacks and protect against and respond to threats and hazards to
the nation. We will ensure safe and secure borders, welcome lawful immigrants and visitors, and 100
promote the free flow of commerce.” More specifically, certain authorities and responsibilities
of the Homeland Security Act address USSS activities. Some involve DHS’s mission to prevent 101102
terrorist attacks within the U.S. and reduce the nation’s vulnerability from terrorist attacks.
The focus on terrorism prevention, within a homeland security context, is further reinforced with
the October 7, 2007, version of the Homeland Security Council’s National Strategy for Homeland
Security. The strategy’s four goals are:
• prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks;
• protect the American people, our critical infrastructure, and key resources;
• respond to and recover from incidents that do occur; and
• continue to strengthen the foundation to ensure our long term success.103
Arguably, the authority for the USSS to protect specified categories of individuals listed in 18
U.S.C. 3056(a) (provided earlier in this report) and the Service’s investigation into financial
crimes related to terrorism or terrorist organizations meet DHS’s mission and the strategy’s goals
of preventing and disrupting terrorist attacks. Some past assassination attempts on Presidents,
President-elects, and candidates have been terrorist attacks, such as the 1901 assassination of
President McKinley by an anarchist and the attempted 1951 assassination attempt on President 104
Harry S Truman by two Puerto Rican nationalists. However, to date, no attempted or successful
assassination has been attributed to an individual professing to be a terrorist or being a member of
a terrorist organization. It is not unreasonable, however, to associate general terrorist threats with
potential dangers to top government officials. In its study, through the National Threat
99 31 U.S.C. 313(a)(4).
100 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “Strategic Plan -Securing Our Homeland,” available at http://www.dhs.gov/
101 6 U.S.C. 111(b)(1)(A).
102 6 U.S.C. 111(b)(1)(B).
103 Office of the President, National Homeland Security Council, National Strategy for Homeland Security, p. 1,
available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/homeland/nshs/NSHS.pdf.
104 For a detailed list of assassination attempts, see CRS Report RS20821, Direct Assaults Against Presidents,
Presidents-Elect, and Candidates, by Frederick M. Kaiser.
Assessment Center (NTAC), USSS found that “assassins and attackers plan their attacks and are 105
motivated by a wide range of issues.” The NTAC study also “suggests” that mental illness is
not critical to determining legitimate threats; the ability to develop and execute a plan is a more 106
significant factor. Terrorists are motivated by many issues and ideologies, and have proven to
be adept at developing and executing plans.
Also, in the National Strategy for Homeland Security, “banking and finance” is listed as a critical 107
infrastructure and key resource. USSS’s original mandate to investigate crimes against United
States’ financial system meets the strategy’s goal to protect our critical infrastructure and key
resources. DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate contains an Office for
Infrastructure Protection (OIP). OIP is responsible for the “coordinated national effort to reduce
risk to our critical infrastructures and key resources (CI/KR) posed by acts of terrorism. In doing
so, the department increases the nation’s level of preparedness and the ability to respond and 108
quickly recover in the event of an attack, natural disaster, or other emergency.” It could be
assumed that DHS’s responsibility for ensuring the protection of critical infrastructure, which
includes banking and finance, supports USSS transfer to DHS. Therefore, it could be argued that
the USSS is able to effectively execute its missions as a distinct entity within DHS.
It can also be argued that because of the Department of the Treasury’s mission to ensure the
nation’s financial systems, USSS could execute its investigation of financial crimes mission as
one of the department’s entities—as it was prior to its transfer to DHS in March 2003. This option
might ensure that the lead agency for financial crime investigations was part of the federal
government’s financial department.
This option would require an evaluation of the Service’s history of its protection mission when it
was part of the Treasury Department, and if the Service would still be effective in this mission if
was reassigned to the Treasury Department. Again, this was an activity USSS executed as part of
the Treasury Department prior to March 2003, however, the Service’s protection mission has
taken on increased significance since September 11, 2001. This may, arguably, be a reason to
maintain USSS’s protection mission within DHS. Presently, the Service’s practice of training its
agents in investigations and protection could impede on this division of USSS between the
Departments of Treasury and Homeland Security.
Another example of an agency that could possibly assume the Service’s investigation mission is
the FBI, which has the mission of protecting and defending the United States against terrorist and 109
foreign intelligence threats, and enforcing the criminal laws of the United States. However, this
might be problematic, since investigations of financial crimes was the original mission of the
USSS. Additionally, the Service has developed a proficiency in investigating financial crimes that
the FBI may not be able to replicate, unless USSS personnel and resources were transferred.
105 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, “United States Secret Service: National Threat
Assessment Center,” available at http://www.secretservice.gov/ntac.shtml.
107 Office of the President, National Homeland Security Council, National Strategy for Homeland Security, p. 27.
108 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “Office of Infrastructure Protection,” available at http://www.dhs.gov/
109 Federal Bureau of Investigation, “About Us-Quick Facts,” available at http://www.fbi.gov/quickfacts.htm.
It may be argued that it is necessary for Congress to debate the question of what is the primary
USSS mission in order to determine where the Service can efficiently execute its mission and be
appropriately supported. This evaluation could result in the status quo (USSS as a DHS agency),
a separation of USSS missions (financial investigations in the Treasury Department and
protection in DHS), or the Service being transferred back to the Department of the Treasury.
Another possibility may be establishing the USSS as an independent agency that investigates
financial crimes and conducts its protection mission. This would require Service coordination
with the Treasury Department during financial crime investigations, and coordination with other
governmental entities—such as DHS and the Department of Justice—when USSS is executing its
protection mission. One additional course of action could be having the Service transferred to a
federal department other than Treasury or DHS, such as the Department of Justice. Regardless of
how the Service is organized, it may be necessary to examine how USSS is funded and if the
present procedure of funding adequately meets the Service’s needs and organization.
From 1865 to the present, USSS has been investigating financial crimes, its only activity for the
first three decades, and protecting senior executive branch officials, most notably the President.
Recently the Service has increased its efforts in cybersecurity and its protection activities due to
certain events, such as the terrorist attacks of September 2001 and the war in Iraq. The missions
of the Service have evolved and conformed to presidential, departmental, and congressional
requirements. Due to evolving technology and tactics used in crimes—including financial, cyber,
terrorism, and attempted assassinations—USSS has had to evolve. As the cost of this law
enforcement increases, and the number of protectees increases (at least during presidential
campaign election years), the Service is having to determine how to continue to balance and
fulfill its two missions.
Statute Brief Description Year
2 Stat. 404 The Enforcement of Counterfeiting Prevention Act passed; authorized U.S. marshals and 1806
district attorneys to investigate and prosecute counterfeiters.
12 Stat. Counterfeiting investigation authority transferred to the Department of the Treasury. 1860
12 Stat. National Currency Act passed by Congress. 1863
16 Stat. The Office of the Solicitor of the Treasury transferred to the Department of Justice. 1870
22 Stat. Statutory recognition given to the Secret Service Division (SSD) in an appropriation act. 1882
34 Stat. Congress, for the first time, appropriated funds specifically for the protection of the President. 1906
38 Stat. 23 Beginning of annual authorization for presidential protection. 1913
39 Stat. Congress makes it a crime to threaten the President. 1917
40 Stat. Congress authorizes SSD to protect the President’s immediate family. 1917
42 Stat. White House Police Force established. 1922
44 Stat. Treasury Secretary authorized to use SSD to investigate counterfeiting. 1926
46 Stat. Congress authorizes SSD to administer and supervise the White House Police Force. 1930
48 Stat. Congress authorizes SSD to investigate and arrest individuals involved in fraud related to the 1933
178 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
57 Stat. Congress, for the first time, appropriates funding for the SSD’s investigation and protection 1943
62 Stat. SDD authorized to investigate crimes related to federal banks and loan associations. 1948
65 Stat. Congress permanently authorizes the “U.S. Secret Service” to protect the Presidents, their 1951
122 immediate families, Vice Presidents (if so desired), and the Presidents-elect.
67 Stat. 68 Congress, for the first time, uses the title “U.S. Secret Service” in an appropriation act. 1954
76 Stat. Congress authorizes reimbursement to USSS for funds used to purchase counterfeit currency. 1962
76 Stat. Congress authorizes permanent protection of the Vice President and former Presidents (as 1962
956 requested) for a “reasonable amount of time.”
77 Stat. Congress authorizes USSS protection of Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy and her minor children for 1963
348 two years following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
79 Stat. Congress authorizes permanent protection of former Presidents and their spouses during their 1965
791 lifetime, and their children until age 16.
79 Stat. Congress authorizes USSS agents to make arrests without warrants if crimes are committed in 1965
Statute Brief Description Year
890 their presence.
81 Stat. Congress extends USSS protection to widows of former Presidents and minor children until 1967
466 March 1, 1969.
82 Stat. Congress authorizes the Treasury Secretary to determine what presidential and vice 1968
170 presidential candidates should receive USSS protection, and establishes an advisory committee
to assist the Secretary in this determination.
82 Stat. Congress permanently authorizes the protection of former Presidents’ widows and minor 1968
84 Stat. 74-Congress renames the White House Police Force the Executive Protection Service (EPS), and 1970
75 authorizes the USSS Director to ensure EPS’s protection of different locations and facilities.
84 Stat. Congress makes it a crime to interfere with USSS agents engaged in a protection mission. 1971
84 Stat. Congress authorizes USSS protection of visiting heads of foreign states, distinguished foreign 1971
1941 visitors, and U.S. officials abroad on special missions.
88 Stat. Congress extends USSS protection of foreign diplomatic missions and the Vice President’s 1975
1765 immediate family.
90 Stat. Congress authorizes protection of presidential and vice presidential candidates’ spouses. 1976
90 Stat. Congress identifies the number and types of residences and properties to be protected by 1976
2475 USSS, such as residences owned by Presidents and Vice Presidents.
91 Stat. 3 Congress authorizes USSS protection to specified federal officials. Repealed in 1984 (98 Stat. 1977
91 Stat. EPS is renamed the Secret Service Uniform Division. 1977
94 Stat. Former Vice Presidents and spouses are authorized USSS protection if directed by the 1980
2740 President, but not indefinite protection.
96 Stat. Temporary presidential and vice presidential residences were designated as property that 1982
1451 could be protected when occupied.
98 Stat. USSS authorized to investigate credit card and computer fraud. 1984
98 Stat. Congress authorizes a specific list of individuals to be protected by USSS, including the 1984
3110 President, Vice President, and their immediate families.
104 Stat. Congress authorizes USSS to conduct civil and criminal investigations into crimes against 1990
1427 federally insured financial institutions.
108 Stat. Congress mandates that USSS provide technical and analytical assistance to the National 1994
2043 Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
108 Stat. Congress modifies authorities concerning protection of former Presidents and their spouses 1994
2413 by limiting the protection to ten years following the date the President leaves office.
114 Stat. Congress authorizes USSS to plan, coordinate, and implement security at National Special 2000
2716 Security Events, and established the National Threat Assessment Center within the Service.
115 Stat. Congress authorizes USSS to establish electronic crimes taskforces. 2001
116 Stat. Congress transfers USSS to DHS as a “distinct entity.” 2002
Analyst in Emergency Management and Homeland Security Policy