DC Government Links

DC Government Links

Washington, DC, is a multidimensional jurisdiction with federal and local government agencies operating in the same community. The complex web of agencies, departments and offices are vital to the District’s operations and make it unique in the United States.

As the federal capital, the U.S. Constitution grants the United States Congress exclusive jurisdiction over the District of Columbia in “all cases whatsoever”. At certain times, and presently since 1973, Congress has allowed certain powers of government to be carried out by locally elected officials. However, Congress maintains the power to overturn local laws and exercises greater oversight of the city than exists for any U.S. state. Furthermore, the District’s elected government exists at the pleasure of Congress and could theoretically be revoked at any time.

Government of the District of Columbia

On July 16, 1790, the Residence Act provided for a new permanent capital to be located on the Potomac River, the exact area to be selected by President George Washington. The initial shape of the federal district was a square, measuring 10 miles on each side.

The Residence Act also provided for the selection of a three-member board of commissioners, appointed by the President, which was charged with overseeing the construction of the new capital. Two other incorporated cities that predated the District were also included within the new federal territory: Georgetown and the City of Alexandria, Virginia.

The Government of the District of Columbia functions under Article One of the U.S. Constitution and the District of Columbia Home Rule Act of 1973, which delegates certain powers of the Congress to the Mayor and thirteen-member Council. Congress retains the right to review and overturn laws created by the council.

The District was formally placed under the control of Congress in 1801, and organized into two counties: Washington County to the north and east of the Potomac River and Alexandria County to the west and south. The charters for the cities of Georgetown and Alexandria remained in place

The District of Columbia Home Rule Act of 1973 devolved certain congressional powers of the District of Columbia to local government and enacted the Home Rule Charter, furthering District of Columbia home rule.

The Mayor is the head of the executive branch of the District. The Mayor has the duty to enforce city laws, and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Council. In addition, the Mayor oversees all city services, public property, police and fire protection, most public agencies, and the District of Columbia Public Schools.[2] The mayor’s office oversees an annual city budget of $8.8 billion. Contact the Office of the Mayor.

The Council of the District of Columbia is the legislative branch. Led by the Council Chairman, Phil Mendolson, the 13 members of the Council work with the Mayor and the executive branch to operate the government. The Council also plays a critical role in maintaining a balanced budget and the fiscal health of the DC government. Each of the city’s eight wards elects a single member of the council and residents elect four at-large members to represent the District as a whole. The council chair is also elected at-large. Contact the DC Council.

Attorney General
The Attorney General of the District of Columbia is the chief legal officer of the District. In 2010 voters approved a charter amendment making the office an elected position, ending mayor appointment. Contact the Office of the Attorney General.

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals is the highest court in the jurisdiction. Established in 1970, it is equivalent to a state supreme court, except that its authority is derived from Congress. The Court of Appeals should not be confused with the District’s federal appellate court, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. All appeals of Superior Court decisions go to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The Court consists of a chief judge, 61 associate judges and 24 magistrate judges. District judges are appointed to the court by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Contact the DC Courts.

Additional DC Government Links

Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration
Businesses & Associations

DC Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) Small Business Resource Center

DCRA Small Business Resource Center Calendar

DC DCRA’s Building Permit Status

DC Department of Employment Services (DOES)

DC Department of Small and Local Business Development

DC Procurement Technical Assistance Center
DC Department of Small and Local Business Development

Washington DC Convention and Tourism Corporation (WCTC)

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)