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The U.S. Secret Service; Are they worth it? Term Paper

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Updated: Jun 7th, 2019


As President, Barak Obama and other leaders deal with issues affecting Americans, it is clear that times have tremendously throughout history. This change has resulted into transformation of problems and emergence of unique challenges, only known to the current generation. Being one of the most respected American presidents, Abraham Lincoln was confronted with a series of issues, which called for radical and sober solutions.

He is historically remembered for his outstanding role during the Civil War and the fight against slavery, which was augmented by the signing of the Emancipation and Proclamation. Nevertheless, he established the United States Secret Service, which continuously works with other security agencies in the country to promote security and combat crime (Reese, 2012).

This term paper focuses on the internal affairs and budgetary issues facing the Secret Service. Throughout the analysis, the paper will describe the structure, practice and procedure of the Service, and compare it with other agencies. Importantly, the paper is divided into segments, including methodology, discussions and conclusion, structured in a concise manner.


The issue of security has received a wide range of literature coverage by American writers, researchers and investigators. As a result, the topic has well-documented information, covering different issues, including security agencies like the United States Secret Service. This paper will therefore focus on secondary methods of colleting the information required to achieve the objectives of the research.

In particular, the information will be sourced from books, journal articles and authentic websites. With regard to books and journals, they will be obtained from the university library and from the internet.

United States Secret Service

Although the United States Secret Service could be performing other functions today in the United States, it is worth noting that the Service was mainly established to deal with the illegal production of money in the United States. This was based on the fact that the country’s monetary system was somehow disorganized in 1800s; every state issued coins and bills, through banks, which produced different forms of genuine currency (Reese, 2012).

Due to this massive circulation of bills, it was easy for individuals to produce counterfeit money and put it into circulation without being discovered by authorities. It was during President Lincoln’s reign that the country witnessed the highest level of this exercise as more than a third of America’s money was illegal.

Through advice by the treasury, the president established a commission to counter the problem, which was threatening the country’s economy, a move that was followed by the establishment of the United States Secret Service on April, 14 1865 to execute the commission’s recommendations (Homeland Security, 2011).

The Service became fully recognized in July, 1865, with William Wood being appointed as its first chief. He was highly applauded for his success during the Civil War, and by the end of the first year, more than two hundred counterfeiting plants had been shut down.

This was viewed as a milestone, with most leaders realizing its practical role in taming counterfeiting of money. Its national headquarters was established in 1866, under the U.S. Department of Treasury (Homeland Security, 2011).

Although President Lincoln is considered to be the pioneer of the Service, he never lived to see its achievements and expansion. He was assassinated on the same evening he launched the service, sending the country into national mourning. Lincoln’s assassination was the first in the country’s history, since no other president had been assassinated (Homeland Security, 2011).

As a result, Congress began deliberating on the need of improving the president’s security by including it among the roles of the Secret Service. However, this was approved thirty six years later, after the assassination of two more presidents, James Garfield and William McKinley. As a result, the protection of the president has always been under the Secret Service from 1901, during the reign of President Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1917, threats against the president’s security heightened, forcing Congress to include the entire First Family under the protection of the Service. In 1951, the protection of the vice president was included, as President Lyndon endorsed the inclusion of all presidential candidates, after the assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968 (Miller, 2008).


Since its establishment, the agency remained under the Department of Treasury, until 2002, when it became part of the Department of Homeland Security. This was achieved after the ratification of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

Based on this, the Service is tasked with the protective-investigative mission, which is aimed at safeguarding the financial infrastructure of the nation, encompassing the integrity of the currency, protecting leaders of the nation, visiting heads of state, selected sites and National Special Security Events (Miller, 2008).

Importantly, the protective mission includes a host of activities, which could be related to identification of threats, counteracting vulnerabilities and the attainment of a secure environment for those being protected. On the other hand, the investigative mission includes enforcing U.S. laws, which are related to financial, technology and electronic offenses (Miller, 2008).

From this structure, it is evident that the U.S. Secret Service has a demanding role, which is key in determining the country’s development. The Service has more than one hundred and fifty offices around the world, with more than 6,700 employees, who carry out varying responsibilities to ensure that its goal is achieved. The following chart shows a summary of the organizational structure of the Service.

The organizational structure of the U.S. Secret Service.

It is essential to note from the organizational structure that the Office of Protective Research, OPR plays a major role in supporting the dual protective-investigative mission pursued by the Secret Service. Under OPR, the CIO and the Information Resources Management Division IRM are crucial sources of information technology support and expertise.

In particular, the CIO office provides IT solutions and services, which are paramount in realizing the Service’s dual mission. Of significance is the fact that this office provides strategic leadership, advice, direction and any form of assistance, which is related to IT programs of the entire Service.

Moreover, IRM personnel are handy in developing, providing and management of IT, which is necessary to support the investigative and protective operations of the agency (Miller, 2008).

Moreover, the agency is composed of two major divisions, which are the Special Agent Division and the Uniformed Division. The principal role of the Uniformed Division is to offer sufficient protection to the White House and its environs, the residence of the Vice President, and all embassies, which are located in Washington, D.C.

The division was created by an act of Congress in 1922 and was initially known as the White House Police. This was under the leadership of President Warren G. Harding’s (Gaines, 2001).

Driving Forces

The U.S. Secret Service operates within an environment, which continues to expose the country’s leaders, economy and major events to criminal attacks. As the world experiences emerging technology and new weaponry, more criminals are willing to employ these new tactics to threaten the security of the United States (Gaines, 2001).

As a result, the Secret Service examines and incorporates new technology and practices, where possible, together with partnering with the private and public organizations in enhancing knowledge and experience.

Global Economic and Technological Trends

Unlike in the past, the accessibility to electronic technology has widely spread in the United States and around the world in the 21st century. Additionally, there has been an increase in international and global internet connection. These advancements have led to exponential growth in e-commerce and online banking across the country.

Likewise, there has been an increase in electronic payment, including the use of credit and debit cards to facilitate international and local business transactions (Gaines, 2001). Due to this, electronic and financial crimes have become more common across the country, than it was before.

Besides this, it is also believed that the complexity of the problem has been contributed by the global scale of the internet and lack of cooperation from foreign countries in prosecuting such cases. In the year 2006, 8.9 million Americans were reported to have suffered identity theft, which had a cost implication of approximately $50 billion.

Budget and achievements

According to the director of the U.S. Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, 2011 was a special year in terms of the achievements realized by the agency. This was pegged on an array of issues, including the commitment of employees and professionalism of the entire workforce. In the year 2011, the agency used a total of$1.515 billion to deliver commendable results through its duo protective and investigative mission.

In the same year, the Service provided incident-free protection for 3,284 domestic presidential travel stops, together with 376 international stops for the President, Vice Presidents and other national leaders (USSS, 2011).

Additionally, the budget included 2,355 travel stops by 216 foreign heads of states from 136 countries from around the world. Moreover, the Secret Service was able to secure the enactment of the Uniformed Division Modernization Act, which gave the agency the authority to recruit and retain its workforce.

Aside from these, the agency arrested 9,022 suspects of various financial crimes, which was equivalent to 8% percent increment from 2010 fiscal year. Due to enhanced services, the Secret Service recovered more than $72 million through seized assets, which was equivalent to an increment of 34%.

In addition, the IT infrastructure was stabilized with $47 million investment, which supported the duo-mission (USSS, 2011). In general the Service has continuously delivered outstanding protective and investigative services, coupled with pinnacle levels of loyalty and integrity.

It has exceeded several levels of trust and confidence throughout its history. From William Wood to Mark Sullivan, its leaders have redefined and expanded the foundation and value of the agency, through dedication and commitment to the driving goals.


Whilst the United States Secret Service has been highly rated with regard to its outstanding performance, reputable history and achievements, it has also failed the nation in several ways, which will be highlighted in this segment of the analysis. Many security analysts believe that the U.S. Secret Service as failed to perform its tasks in several terror attacks, which have hit the country.

Among these attacks is the September 11, 2001. It has been argued that the Service was in a position to act in several ways to save the nation (National Commission O Terrorist Attacks, 2010).

A major failure of the Service on 9/11 was its inability to provide enough protection for the president after it had been known that the country was under attack. Even though the president received Secret Service protection on that particular day, he remained exposed to danger in various instances.

On the fatal day and hour, the president entered several buildings, for activities which had received massive publicity even though there was knowledge of hijacked airlines (National Commission O Terrorist Attacks, 2010). The Secret Service allowed the president to give a televised speech, allowing the world to know where he was.

After he left, there was no air cover for his motorcade or Air Force One reinforcement. The Vice President equally remained exposed to attack, as he was evacuated from the office after the first plane had already hit the city.


Since 1865, the U.S. Secret Service has remained a major security agency in America. Of great significance has been its role in dealing with counterfeiting of money, which was a serious problem during Lincoln’s reign. Through its duo-mission, the Service has also been on the frontline in protecting U.S. leaders.

However, the Service’s greatest failure was in 2001 when it failed to protect the president and his vice, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Regardless of this failure, the Service needs to be strengthened and empowered to enable it execute its mandate holistically.


Gaines, A. (2001). The U.S. Secret Service. New York City: Infobase Publishing.

Homeland Security. (2011). U.S. Secret Service’s Information Technology Modernization Effort. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved from

Miller, C. (2008). The U.S. Secret Service: Protecting Our Leaders. Minnesota: Capstone Press.

National Commission On Terrorist Attacks. (2010). The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. New York: Cosimo, Inc.

Reese, S. (2012). The U.S. Secret Service: An Examination and Analysis of Its Evolving Missions. CRS Report for Congress. Retrieved from

USSS. (2011). United States Secret Service Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Report. United States Secret Service. Retrieved from

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