Secretary of state

The title secretary of state or state secretary[note 1] is commonly used for senior or mid-level posts in governments around the world. The role varies between countries, and in some cases there are multiple secretaries of state in the government.

In many countries, a secretary of state is a senior or mid-level post. It is usually a politically appointed position, although in some countries, such as Germany and Sweden, it can be filled by a member of the executive bureaucracy (civil service) as a political appointment (equivalent to permanent secretary). In the Holy See, the administrative body of the Catholic Church, the cardinal secretary of state coordinates all the departments of the Roman Curia (and is in that respect equivalent to a prime minister). In the United Kingdom, the secretary of state is a member of the cabinet appointed by the queen on the advice of the prime minister (and thus equivalent to a cabinet minister). The United States secretary of state is the foreign minister of the federal government of the United States while in most of the individual U.S. states the secretary of state is an administrative officer responsible for certain governmental functions, often including overseeing elections.

The term secretary of state originated in early 17th century England.