Steven Rattner, known as the "car czar," served as an adviser to the U.S. Treasury Department for six months in 2009 in an attempt by the Obama administration to revamp the U.S. auto industry. Kenneth Feinberg served as the "pay czar," overseeing executive compensation at corporations that received bailout funds from TARP. Van Jones served for six months as the "green jobs czar," advising the White House on issues related to green jobs, innovation and enterprise.Continue Reading
The media has used the term "czar" to describe special advisers to the president and White House on various issues, although some individuals known as czars serve in official capacities with government agencies. The idea of special advisers to the president dates back to World War I when President Wilson appointed an "industry czar" to serve as the director of the War Industries Board. Franklin Roosevelt again appointed advisers in a similar capacity during World War II. It was president Richard Nixon who appointed czars in capacities other than assisting in war efforts; for example, he created the "energy czar" position to aid the White House in dealing with the energy crisis of the mid-1970s.
During the Obama administration, czarships have come under heavy criticism by some individuals and politicians on the political right due to the perceived ability of czars to avoid congressional oversight.Learn more about Branches of Government