Structure and operation
The System is an independent agency within the Executive Branch of the
Federal government of the United States.
A lottery is held in full view of the public, which is covered by the media.
First, all days of the year are placed into a capsule at random. Second, the
numbers 1-365 (1-366 for men born on a leap year) are placed into a second
capsule. These two capsules are certified for procedure, sealed in a drum, and
In the event of a draft, the drums are taken out of storage and inspected to
make sure they have not been tampered with. The lottery then takes place, and
each date is paired with a number at random. For example, if January 16 is
picked from the "date" capsule and the number 59 picked from the "number"
capsule, all men of age 20 born on January 16 will be required to report for
conscription only after men with birthdays paired with numbers 1-58 are
inducted. If all dates are used, the Selective Service will then conscript men
at the age of 21, then 22, 23, 24, and 25. Men ages 18 and 19 are not likely to
be inducted to the system. Once all dates are paired, the dates will be sent to
Selective Service System's Data Management Center.