Presidential memorandum

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A presidential memorandum is a type of executive instrument typically issued by the President of the United States to manage and govern the actions, practices and policies of the various departments and agencies found under the executive branch of the United States government. Presidential memoranda and executive orders appear to be very closely related, if not identical. However, the lack of a definition for either of these mechanisms has made it difficult to make a clear distinction between them.[1] Presidential memoranda are generally considered less prestigious than executive orders.[2] Presidential memoranda do not have an established process for issuance or publication.[3]

There are three types of memorandum: presidential determination or presidential finding, memorandum of disapproval, and hortatory memorandum.[3]


In the past, presidential memoranda have been referred to as presidential letters.[3]

Presidential determination

Presidential determination, or presidential finding, are memoranda required by a statute and must be issued before certain actions are taken. For example, a presidential determination on the status of a country must be released before sanctions are imposed on the country.[3]

Memorandum of disapproval

A memorandum of disapproval is a public veto statement.[3]

Hortatory memorandum

A hortatory memorandum is issued as a broad policy statement, but unlike a Presidential Proclamation is directed to executive agencies.[3]

See also


  1. Neither the executive memorandum or order was present in the U.S. Constitution.Contrubis, John. "CRS Report 95-772 A; Executive Orders and Proclamations". Congressional Research Service. March 09, 1999 Edition. Library of Congress. pp. 20–23. Archived from the original on April 16, 2011. . . . Although a clear distinction cannot be made, they are both forms of executive legislation that must possess similar authority. If issued under a valid claim of authority and published, executive orders and presidential memoranda have the force and effect of law and courts are required to take judicial notice of their existence. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Porter, Roger B. (1982). Presidential Decision Making: The Economic Policy Board. Cambridge University Press. p. 41. ISBN 9780521271127.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "Presidential Documents". SDSU Library & Information Access. Retrieved 31 January 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>