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A “czar” is an unofficial title used to refer to high-ranking executive branch appointments.

Czars are usually given responsibility for a specific policy area and do not have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

They usually have an official title, but are referred to as czars by the media: For example, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy is simply known as the drug czar.

Political czars are typically tasked with coordinating efforts across different government agencies, providing expertise on their specific issue, and driving the administration’s policy agenda in that area.

They often serve as the administration’s primary spokesperson on their issue and may be given a significant degree of autonomy in shaping and implementing policy.

Origin of “Czar”

Bernard Baruch, appointed by Woodrow Wilson to head the War Industries Board in 1918, was the first to be called a czar.

The usage of the term, only one year after the Russian Revolution, was originally derogatory, although it is less so today.

The term czar was used more frequently in reference to appointed executive branch officials under President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II.

In 1942, the Washington Post reported on the “executive orders creating new czars to control various aspects of our wartime economy.”

It’s important to note that “czar” is not an official title, and its use is not standardized across administrations.

The responsibilities and influence of a czar can vary widely depending on the specific appointment and the priorities of the administration.

Use of “Czar” in a sentence

  • In response to the opioid crisis, the administration appointed a drug czar to coordinate national efforts and develop strategies to combat the epidemic.
  • Critics argue that the use of the term “czar” in U.S. politics, such as energy czar or technology czar, can be misleading, as these positions, while influential, do not hold the absolute power that the term traditionally implies.
  • The appointment of a climate czar signaled the administration’s commitment to addressing climate change, with the role focused on coordinating environmental policies across different government agencies.