A bunch of friends in Silicon Valley have asked some version of “what was surprising to you in government?” or “what did you learn about government?” This is one of a series of posts answering those questions.
|Bo in front of the White House in the snow|
Official White House photograph by Pete Souza
One of the confusing things people say in D.C. is that they “work at the White House.” That can mean one of a bunch of different, true things. Only a few are what you might expect.
- You work for the President at the White House. And by that I mean the building that is white, looks like a house, is where the first family live, and is pictured above in the snow behind Bo. There are a bunch of people who work in the actual house part of the White House and many others who are there for periods of time for their jobs, such as the Secret Service agents assigned to the house (the Secret Service agents have some of the hardest jobs and are in each of the spaces listed below as well).
- You work in the West Wing, which is attached to the thing that is an actual house. There are a bunch of offices of high ranking people and their staff who are part of the Executive Office of the President or Vice President, as well as White House Situation Room personnel and others in the West Wing of the White House.
- You work for the President or the First Lady in the East Wing (attached to the other side of the house).
- You work elsewhere on the complex, perhaps for the Executive Office of the President or the Vice President. The majority of these people actually work in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is an incredible building but neither white, nor a house. Up until a few weeks ago, I worked in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer within the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President and was physically located in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
- You work elsewhere as part of the Executive Office of the President (or VP). Many of these folks are in the New Executive Office Building. And, while the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is technically part of the Executive Office of the President, I don’t know whether USTR people say that they work at the White House.
The above are all “true” as far as D.C. is concerned.
There are also a lot of people who say they work at the White House but are just lying.