Naval personnel matters were originally handled by the Secretary of War until the establishment of the Navy Department on April 30th, 1798. It was not until 1815 that the Secretary of the Navy took control of personnel matters. In 1861, the Office of Detail was created and functions related to the detailing of officers and the appointment and instruction of volunteer officers, as well as the purchase of ships and related matters were transferred. The Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting was concurrently established to handle enlisted recruiting and service record maintenance.
The Bureau of Navigation was established in 1862 and three years later the Office of Detail was placed under it. In 1889, the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting transferred its enlisted personnel activities to the Bureau of Navigation as well. On May 13th, 1942 the command's name changed to the Bureau of Naval Personnel, and in 1982 it changed to Naval Military Personnel Command. In 1991, the name changed back to the Bureau of Naval Personnel or "BUPERS" for short. BUPERS is led by the Chief of Naval Personnel.