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Departmental Flags (U.S.)

Last modified: 2023-09-30 by rick wyatt
Keywords: united states | departmental |
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Official construction drawings are available for many US federal agency flags. The drawings were created by The Institute of Heraldry, an element of the Department of the Army, charged with designing flags, guidons and colors for federal civil and military organizations, as well as badges and insignia. These construction sheets are listed on this page and on the relevant departmental entry.
Dave Fowler, 8 July 2022




Cabinet Departments

Order of Precedence

Under the previous administration, there was a cabinet meeting on May 19, 2020 in which the flags of all (or most) cabinet members were displayed. I haven't seen a similar display before or since.

Flags were displayed in order of precedence, with US, POTUS and VPOTUS flags in the center, and starting with the Department of State flag on the left, flags alternated left and right outwardly, in order of seniority.

They were
United States
Vice President
Department of State
Department of the Treasury
Department of Defense (Secretary of Defense flag)
Department of Justice
Department of the Interior
Department of Agriculture
Department of Commerce (Secretary of Commerce flag)
Department of Labor
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Department of Transportation
Department of Energy
Department of Education
Department of Veterans Affairs (Secretary of Veterans Affairs flag)
Department of Homeland Security
US Environmental Protection Administration
Office of Management and Budget
Office of the US Trade Representative
US Small Business Administration
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
US Central Intelligence Agency (no longer at cabinet rank)

I don't know why three departments used their secretarial flags.

The Small Business Administration flag is not what the agency uses at its headquarters. This may have been an older flag that the White House protocol people pulled out of a closet.

There were no flags representing:
White House Chief of Staff
Ambassador to the United Nations

The current administration has added:
Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors
Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Dave Fowler, 10 April 2021

Independent Executive Agencies

Agencies no longer extant

U.S. Government Agency Flags

Prescribing the design, use, or non-use of agency flags falls within the broad managerial powers of the head of an executive department, as set forth in 5 U.S. Code § 301: "The head of an Executive department or military department may prescribe regulations for the government of his department, the conduct of its employees, the distribution and performance of its business, and the custody, use, and preservation of its records, papers, and property." There are similar provisions of law for independent agencies that are not part of an executive department.
Joe McMillan, 5 January 2004

Colors used on U.S. government flags

Here are the Army Institute of Heraldry prescribed equivalencies for variously named colors used in U.S. government flags:

dark blue - PMS 539
ultramarine blue - PMS reflex blue
cobalt blue - PMS 281
light blue - PMS 5415
oriental blue - PMS 285

scarlet - PMS 200
maroon - PMS 504
crimson - PMS 220
brick red - PMS 202

yellow - PMS 123
golden yellow - PMS 116

orange - PMS 1655
golden orange - PMS 1375

green - PMS 357
jungle green - PMS 343

purple - PMS 267

buff - PMS 465

silver gray - PMS 422

Joe McMillan, 7 December 2001

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