The first form of government in DeKalb County was created by the General Assembly in 1886. The Board of Commissioners of Roads and Revenues was a group of five commissioners elected by the county grand jury and had fairly broad powers concerning property control and levying taxes. In 1896, this form of government through its creating act was repealed.
In 1902, a Board of Commissioners of Roads and Revenues was again created by the General Assembly, much like the 1886 Board. However, this new five member Board was elected by qualified voters of DeKalb County through five districts instead of being elected by the county grand jury. Just as the first Board was repealed, the second Board of Commissioners was repealed in 1904.
Two years later, the General Assembly created yet another form of government similar in power and duties as the second Board but different in structure. The form was a sole commissioner rather than a Board. However, in 1912, the General Assembly repealed this form of government and created a third Board with the same powers and duties as the second Board with the membership of the Board being determined by the county grand jury. In 1918, this third Board of Commissioners was altered in order to allow the voters from the five road districts to elect the membership, making this Board look exactly like the 1902 Board of Commissioners.
The General Assembly, in 1953, passed an act that would have created a new Board of Commissioners, including a chairman elected by the voters and four board members elected by the grand jury. It was necessary for this act to go through referendum, and it failed. However, this form was enacted in 1956, with a few alterations. Instead of the board members being elected by the grand jury, the qualified voters elected both the chairman and the remaining members of the board.
In 1981, the act of 1956 was revised and led to what is now the current government of DeKalb County. Two separate offices were created: the legislative Board of Commissioners and the administrative Chief Executive Officer. Seven members make up the Board of Commissioner, five elected from individual districts and two elected from super districts that make up about half of the county's population.
In 2008, the voters of DeKalb County approved a change in the governance structure. Starting with the first meeting in 2009, the Commission set their own agenda and presided over their own meetings. As part of this change, the Office of the Clerk was transferred from the Finance Department where it had historically been to the Board of Commissioners.