Preliminary Guide to Environmental Sources
Office of the Governor
Current Functions. The governor, as chief executive officer of the State, is responsible for ensuring that the laws of the State are carried out. The governor exercises executive power and authority over the administrative machinery of State government, including all departments, divisions, offices, bureaus, and commissions established by constitutional provision or by statute.
The governor acts as commander-in-chief of the State's military and naval forces; directs to the legislature an annual message concerning the condition of the State; recommends action to the legislature and approves or vetoes actions proposed by the legislature; convenes extraordinary sessions of the legislature, or of the senate only, when necessary; appoints, and may remove, heads of most State departments; prepares annually for the legislature a comprehensive State budget; and may grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons to persons convicted of crimes (other than treason or impeachment cases).
Organizational History. New York's first constitution in 1777, and subsequent constitutions of 1821, 1846, and 1894, vested supreme executive power and authority in a governor. Colonial precedents for a governor as executive officer were the director general, who administered New Netherland under the Dutch from 1624 to 1664; and the royal governor, who administered the colony under the British until 1776. In April 1777, the Convention of Representatives of the State of New York (renamed the Fourth Provincial Congress) adopted the first State constitution, and two months later George Clinton was elected first governor of New York State.
New York's constitution of 1777 created the office of governor "to take care that the laws are faithfully executed" and "to transact all necessary business with the officers of government." The governor was required to report on the condition of the State at each legislative session, could convene the legislature in special session, prorogue it, and recommend matters for legislative consideration. The governor was designated commander-in-chief of the armed forces and could grant reprieves and pardons to persons convicted of crimes other than treason and murder. The constitution provided for the election of the governor by freeholders for a three-year term, with no limit placed on the number of terms an individual might serve.
Executive power was restricted by means of a system of checks and balances, including the legislature, a Council of Appointment, and a Council of Revision. The Council of Appointment, consisting of the governor and four senators elected annually by the assembly, selected nonelective public officials except those otherwise provided for in the constitution. The Council of Revision, made up of the governor, the chancellor of the State's equity courts, and the justices of the supreme court, exercised a veto power over bills passed by the legislature, but a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature could override a veto.
Both councils were abolished by the second State constitution of 1821. The legislature assumed the power of electing major government officials (the comptroller, attorney general, secretary of state, state engineer, and treasurer), but the governor retained the power to appoint other state officials with the consent of the senate. Veto power was now vested in the governor alone. The governor could no longer prorogue the legislature, and his term of office was reduced from three to two years. The power to grant pardons and reprieves was amended to exclude only treason and impeachment cases. The other powers and duties of the governor were retained as they were described in the first constitution.
The third (1846) State constitution continued the governor's powers and duties as defined in the second constitution. Constitutional amendments in 1874 increased the term of office to three years, allowed the governor to veto individual items in appropriation bills, and provided that extraordinary sessions of the legislature could consider only matters recommended by the governor.
The fourth State constitution was approved by the voters in 1894 and remains today as the basic legal document of New York government. It continued previous constitutional definitions of the governor's powers and duties, but reduced the term of office to two years.
By the early twentieth century the executive branch of State government had grown to include nearly 200 administrative departments, boards, and commissions. Constitutional amendments in 1925 and 1927 significantly consolidated these administrative offices and expanded the power of the executive office. A 1925 amendment reduced the number of elective officials to four -- governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, and attorney general (the latter two were first made elective posts by the 1846 constitution) -- and provided for the consolidation of all administrative agencies into not more than twenty State departments.
One of the authorized departments was the Executive Department. Two laws (1926, Chapter 546, and 1928, Chapter 676) defined the organization and duties of the Executive Department. It serves as the administrative department of the governor, and through it the governor supervises the activities of all other constitutional departments. The governor was authorized to establish, consolidate, or abolish additional executive department divisions and bureaus, and many such offices have been created or eliminated by executive order or statute since 1928.
In 1927, a constitutional amendment specified that the heads of all departments other than Audit and Control, Law, Education, and Agriculture and Markets be appointed by the governor with the consent of the senate, and that department heads may be removed by the governor as prescribed by law. Another amendment in 1927 required all departments to submit annually to the governor itemized estimates of necessary appropriations and required the governor then to submit to the legislature an executive budget containing a complete plan of proposed expenditures and estimated revenues. In 1937, a constitutional amendment increased the governor's term of office to four years.
The governor and immediate executive office staff, consisting of the secretary to the governor, counsel to the governor, press secretary, appointments officer, and other administrative advisors and assistants, have been generally referred to (both before and after reorganization) as the executive chamber.
|General Agency-level Records|
|13682||Central subject and correspondence files, 1919-1954, 1959-1983. 1,786 cu. ft. and 2,646 microfilm reels.|
|This series includes records of the following gubernatorial administrations [Names of governors known to have generated or collected records pertaining to environmental issues are italicized; however, users may find that other governors also created or compiled relevant material]:|
|Alfred E. Smith, 1919-1920, 1923-1928
Nathan L. Miller, 1921-1922
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1929-1932
Herbert H. Lehman, 1933-1942
Thomas E. Dewey, 1943-1954
W. Averell Harriman, 1955-1958
Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1959-1973
Malcolm Wilson, 1973-1974
Hugh L. Carey, 1975-1982
Mario M. Cuomo, 1983-1994
|101 cu. ft. (169 microfilm reels)
17 cu. ft.
91 cu. ft. (219 microfilm reels)
106 cu. ft. (106 microfilm reels)
275 microfilm reels
141 microfilm reels
520 microfilm reels
57 microfilm reels
915 cu. ft. (499 microfilm reels)
660 microfilm reels
7 cu. ft.
|B0294||Printed reports and studies, 1975-1982.
12 cu. ft.
|A0531||Investigation case files of charges and
complaints against public officials and agencies, 1857-1919 (bulk
51.2 cu. ft.
|A0006||Registers of appointments, 1823-1970.
26 cu. ft. (97 volumes)
|13688||Press releases, 1923-1949, 1976-1994.
23 cu. ft.
|13702||Executive Chamber news summary, 1980-1982.
4 cu. ft.
|13700||Audio and video tapes, 1951-1986.
49.8 cu. ft. (1,931 audio and video cassette and reel-to-reel tapes)
|Special Counsel to the Governor|
|19682||Shoreham Nuclear Power Facility litigation
104 cu. ft.
|18623||Operating documents of the Fact-Finding
Panel on the Shoreham Nuclear Power facility, 1983.
7 cu. ft. (including 54 audio cassettes)
|Deputy Secretary to the Governor|
|B1219||National Governors' Conference and related
federal issues policy development
files, ca. 1972-1974.
7 cu. ft.
|13704||Governor's speech files, 1975-1982.
23.5 cu. ft.
|13705||Transcripts of press conferences, 1975-1982.
4 cu. ft.
|13706||Press releases, 1978-1982.
2.3 cu. ft.
|COMMISSION ON GOVERNMENT INTEGRITY|
|15823||Investigation project files, 1975-1989
293 cu. ft. R
|MORELAND ACT COMMISSION ON THE RETURNABLE CONTAINER LAW|
|19683||Correspondence and research files, 1989-1990.
6 cu. ft.
|FACT FINDING PANEL ON THE SHOREHAM NUCLEAR POWER FACILITY|
|B0996||Correspondence and background files, 1983.
.1 cu. ft.
|TEMPORARY EXECUTIVE OFFICES, COMMISSIONS, BOARDS, AND TASK FORCES|
|Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century|
|16290||Subject, correspondence, and meeting files,
13 cubic feet
|Council of Environmental Advisors|
|11289||Subject files, 1970-1975.
34 cu. ft.
|Governor's Electric Power Committee|
|10989||Meeting transcripts and reports, 1967.
1 cu. ft.
|Low Level Radioactive Waste Siting Commission|
|18940||Executive Director's outgoing correspondence
1 cu. ft.
|18938||Chairman's outgoing correspondence files,
1.5 cu. ft.
|18941||Minutes of commission meetings, 1987-1995.
1 cu. ft.
|Temporary State Commissions|
|Temporary Commission on Dioxin Exposure|
|B0639||Research and report files, 1980-1983.
25 cu. ft.
|Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks|
|10984||Subject, correspondence and meeting files,
8 cu. ft.
|Temporary State Commission on the Water Supply Needs of Southeastern New York|
|10975||Meeting, hearing and correspondence files,
9 cu. ft.