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(1) The basic administrative and territorial unit in France (in 1970 there were 95 departments). The organ of self-government in the department is the general council and the departmental commission that it elects. The prefect is the representative of the central government in the department.
(2) In some countries, the name of a government department or ministry, such as the State Department of the United States.
(3) The department in Russia was a subdivision of higher, central, and local institutions and sometimes an independent central institution. Departments existed from the 18th century to the early 20th century. A number of collegiums were divided into departments: the Collegium of Livonian and Estonian Affairs (1739), the Votchina (Patrimonial Estate) Collegium (1762), the collegiums of Justice and Financial Inspection and Auditing (1762 and 1763), and the Collegium of Foreign Affairs (1779). In the Admiralty and Military collegiums (1763 and 1780) departments were part of collegium subdivisions called ekspeditsii. On Dec. 15, 1763, the Senate was divided into six departments each headed by a chief procurator (by the mid-19th century there were 12 departments and in the early 20th century, six). The provincial reform of 1775 divided several local courts into departments.
In the late 18th and early 19th century a number of independent departments arose in Russia: the Department of Udely (Crown Domains), headed by a minister (established in 1797 and from 1826 to 1892 part of the Ministry of the Imperial Court), and the Department of Water Communications (1798-1809), headed by a main director. With the establishment of ministries on Sept. 8, 1802, departments were created within the ministries. In accordance with the General Establishment of Ministries of June 25, 1811, the departments became the main executive agencies of the ministries. A director headed each department, and it consisted of sections whose officials met in general sessions of the department. Some departments, such as the Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, acquired great independence within their ministries. From 1810 there were departments in the State Council. Departments were abolished after the October Revolution of 1917.
REFERENCEEroshkin, N. P. Istoriia gosudarstvennykh uchrezhdenii dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968. Chapters 5-11.
N. P. EROSHKIN