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Presidential Directives 

Presidential Directives are a specific form of Executive Order that state the Executive Branch’s national security policy, and carry the force and effect of law, stating requirements for the Executive Branch. Over time, Presidents have used different names for Presidential Directives. The table below shows the types and abbreviations that appear on this webpage.

Presidential Directives (PD) Table
Ronald Reagan 1981-1989 NSDD National Security Decision Directives
George H. W. Bush 1989-1993 NSD National Security Directives
William Clinton 1993-2001 PDD Presidential Decision Directives
George W. Bush 2001-2009



National Security Presidential Directives

Homeland Security Presidential Directives

Barack Obama 2009-Present PPD Presidential Policy Directives


Presidential Directives are issued by the President with the advice and consent of the National Security Council. The National Security Council was established by President Obama’s first Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-1). During the G.W. Bush administration (2001 - 2009), President Bush issued Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs) with the advice and consent of the Homeland Security Council and issued National Security Presidential Directives (NSPDs) with the advice and consent of the National Security Council. Some Presidential Directives from the G.W. Bush administration have both an HSPD and an NSPD number. Those Presidential Directives appear as one item in this section, but will show both numbers (HSPD-X/NSPD-Y).

PPD-1: Organization of the National Security Council System (2009)

PPD-1 establishes the National Security Council System according to the National Security Act of 1947 to assist and advise the President in all aspects of national security policy as it affects the U.S. – domestic, foreign, military, intelligence, and economic (in conjunction with the National Economic Council. PPD-1 establishes the National Security Council (NSC), the NSC Principles Committee, the NSC Deputies Committee, and allows the NSC Deputies Committee to create Interagency Policy Committees (IPCs) on topics as necessary.

NSPM-4: Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council

NSPM-4 establishes the National Security Council System according to the National Security Act of 1947 to assist and advise the President in all aspects of national security policy as it affects the United States. NSPM-4 also establishes the Homeland Security Council in accordance with the Homeland Security Act of 2002. NSPM-4 maintains the Principals Committee and Deputies Committee established in the 2009 PPD-1. The Deputies Committee can establish Policy Coordination Committees chaired by the National Security Staff to focus on specific topics.

PPD-2: Implementation of the National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats

PPD-2 was released to ensure implementation of the National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats. It gave Executive Branch Departments and Agencies 180 days to create an initial implementation plan for the Strategy and submit it to the National Security Staff Executive Secretary. It also gave guidance on submitting budgets for programs in support of the Strategy and established oversight for implementation through the Interagency Policy Committee on Countering Biological Threats. Yearly reports on progress toward implementing the Strategy are required beginning February 1, 2011.

PPD-8: National Preparedness (2011)

PPD-8 calls for a strategy, goals, and implementation plan to improve domestic emergency and public health preparedness efforts under the leadership of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. It also required a preparedness report by March 30, 2012. The 2012 preparedness report is online.

PPD-21: Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience

PPD-21 establishes a critical infrastructure protection program for the United States, led by the Department of Homeland Security. HHS is listed as a Sector-Specific Agency for Food & Agriculture and for Public Health

HSPD-4/NSPD-17: National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (2002)

HSPD-4, also referenced as NSPD-17, calls for a comprehensive strategy to counter the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threat by strengthening counterproliferation, nonproliferation, and consequence management efforts. Also included are functions that enable an effective response to a WMD threat: intelligence collection and analysis on WMD, delivery system technology, research and development on responding to evolving threats; bilateral and multilateral cooperation; and targeted strategies against hostile states and terrorists.

HSPD-5: Management of Domestic Incidents (2003)

HSPD-5 improves the ability of the United States to manage domestic incidents (e.g., terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies) by establishing a single, comprehensive national incident management system.

HSPD-7: Critical Infrastructure Identification, Prioritization, and Protection (2003)

HSPD- 7 establishes a national policy for Federal departments and agencies to identify and prioritize critical infrastructure and to protect them from terrorist attacks. The directive defines relevant terms and delivers 31 policy statements. These policy statements define what the directive covers and the roles various federal, state, and local agencies will play in carrying it out.

HSPD-9: Defense of United States Agriculture and Food (2004)

HSPD-9 establishes a national policy to defend the agriculture and food systems against terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.

HSPD-10/NSPD-33: Biodefense for the 21st Century (2004)

(Superseded by PPD2)

HSPD-10/NSPD-33 provides a comprehensive policy outline for biodefense, including threat awareness, prevention and protection, surveillance and detection, and response and recovery.

HSPD-18: Medical Countermeasures against Weapons of Mass Destruction (2007)

HSPD-18 establishes policy guidelines to draw upon public and private sector scientific communities to address medical countermeasure requirements relating to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats.

HSPD-21: Public Health and Medical Preparedness (2007)

HSPD-21 establishes a national strategy based on disease surveillance, countermeasure distribution, mass casualty care, and community resilience to protect the American people against all kinds of disasters.

NSDD-189: National Policy on the Transfer of Scientific, Technical and Engineering Information (1985)

NSDD-189 defines “fundamental research” and directs the U.S. government to keep the results of fundamental research unrestricted to the maximum extent possible and that, when necessary for national security reasons, information should be controlled by classification. The NSDD defines fundamental research as “…basic and applied research in science and engineering, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons.”



This page last reviewed: March 15, 2022