The California executive branch consists of elected officers and other offices and officers. The elected executive officers are:
Total number of employees is 227,536 excluding California State Universities.  In 2004, there were 4,462 job classifications, many of which had no employees occupying the position, as a workaround for certain hiring practices.  As part of a civil service reform initiative beginning in 2013, 700 job titles were eliminated. 
In 1979, then-Governor Jerry Brown requested a report on the State's personnel system from the Little Hoover Commission, an independent government oversight agency, which resulted in several recommendations of which some were implemented, including the creation of the Department of Personnel Administration but other recommendations such as the dissolution of the California State Personnel Board were not.   In the 1980s, a recommendation to decentralize hiring to departments was implemented. 
In 2012, California Department of Human Resources was created by combining the functions the former Department of Personnel Administration (DPA) with most of the operations of the State Personnel Board, largely implementing recommendations by experts in the prior decades. 
In 2012, the California Government Operations Agency was created under Governor Jerry Brown. Its director, Marybel Batjer, launched an initiative of civil service reform intended to make state employment more attractive to talented employees relative to the private sector. 
In 2015, the first engagement survey of state employees was conducted using a sample of 5,000.  The survey showed that employees largely believed that their work was important, but did not strongly believe that workers were held accountable or that they received proper recognition for good work. 
In 2016, the state rolled out a new hiring website, for the first time allowing for electronic job applications for state jobs.  Unusually, it was programmed by state employees rather than an external contractor. 
Agencies under the direction of a secretary that report directly to the Governor are cabinet-level agencies. Some agencies such as the California State Controller, Attorney General of California, and California Insurance Commissioner are headed by independent elected officials. The California State Auditor is appointed by the Governor with confirmation by the Legislature, but operates independently of both. 
- State Board of Education
- Insurance Commissioner
- Secretary of State
- Lieutenant Governor
- State Controller
- State Treasurer
- State Board of Equalization
- Attorney General
- Board of Governors, Community Colleges
- California Postsecondary Education Commission
- California Student Aid Commission
- Trustees of State Universities
- University of California Board of Regents
- Fair Political Practices Commission
- California Gambling Commission
- State Lands Commission
- California Lottery Commission
- Public Employment Relations Board
- California Public Utilities Commission
- California Transportation Commission
Generally, a Cabinet-level head of an agency in California holds the title of "secretary", while the head of a department holds the title of "director." Exceptions include the head of the Department of the California Highway Patrol, whose title is actually "commissioner."
The vast majority of state government agencies and departments are headquartered in Sacramento or in parts of Sacramento County near the city of Sacramento; in turn, the larger agencies and departments also have local offices around the state which report to headquarters in Sacramento. Notable exceptions include the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Department of Industrial Relations, which are both headquartered in San Francisco.
Other defunct statewide elected offices that no longer exist include the Comptroller (which became Controller in 1862), the Surveyor General (1849–1926), and the Clerk of the Supreme Court.
In June 2012, Governor Jerry Brown obtained approval from the Legislature to proceed with a reorganization plan.  By July 2013, the business and housing components of BTH will be consolidated with the consumer components of SCSA to form the new Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency; the remainder of SCSA and the Technology Agency will merge into the new Government Operations Agency; and the transportation components of BTH along with the formerly separate California Transportation Commission will become part of the new Transportation Agency.
- State Employee Demographics. California State Controller
- "State civil service reform: California's Human Resource Modernization project in a comparative perspective - SEIU Local 1000". www.seiu1000.org. Retrieved 2016-12-04.
- "California's civil service changes aim for a millennial workforce". sacbee. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
- "About CalHR". 2017-09-23. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- "Personnel Management in the State Service" (PDF). Little Hoover Commission. Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy. August 1979. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
- "Californians to watch in 2014: Marybel Batjer's goal is an efficient, tech-savvy government". sacbee. Retrieved 2016-12-04.
- "Survey: California state workers like their work, management not so much". sacbee. Retrieved 2016-12-04.
- "The State Worker: California launches overhauled government jobs website". sacbee. Retrieved 2016-12-04.
- "California State Auditor - Frequently Asked Questions". www.auditor.ca.gov. Retrieved 2016-12-04.
- California state government. The executive branch. 2008 Dec 18. Accessed 2008 Dec 29.
- California, State of. "CA.Gov : Agencies". ca.gov. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
- "California Executive Branch Organizational Chart". CalGovOps.
- Office of the Governor, Governor Brown's Government Reorganization Plan Becomes Law, 3 July 2012.