Budget of the United States Government

Have you ever wondered exactly how much money the government spends? Well, now you can find out. The entire budget of the United States federal government is on the Net. (That is, at least the parts of the budget that aren't deadly secrets, such as funding for clandestine operations.) In 2003, the government will spend $369 billion on Defense and Military. To put this in perspective, the following 22 federal branches and departments -- put together -- will spend $367 billion dollars: Legislative Branch, Judicial Branch, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, General Services Administration, International Assistance Programs, NASA and the Small Business Administration. All that for only $367 billion, compared to $369 for the military. It sure makes NASA ($15.1 billion) look like a bargain.



Census Information

The job of the U.S. Census Bureau is to gather demographic (people) and economic (money) statistics about the United States. This information is made public, and much of it is available on the Census Bureau's Web site. I find this site a fascinating place to browse; there are so many interesting statistics. For example, in Midland County, Texas (where George W. Bush grew up), of all the people 25 years of age or older, 79% are high school graduates and 25% are college graduates; within families, 74% of the people speak English at home, while 24% speak Spanish; and of all the people in the county, 12.9% live below the poverty level.




The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was formed in 1947 by the passage of the National Security Act. The CIA's role is to concern itself with intelligence and counterintelligence activities outside the United States, and to coordinate activities with the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) relating to domestic counterintelligence. If you would like to experience a little of the mystery and intrigue of the CIA -- without having them start a file on you -- visit their Web site, where you can learn more about the agency and take a virtual tour of the parts of their operation they are willing to discuss. While you are here, be sure to check out some of the CIA's publications, such as the "Factbook on Intelligence" and the "CIA World Factbook". The Usenet group is for the discussion of the CIA. You are probably safe to say anything you want because, after all, the United States is a free country and no government agency would ever dare monitor a Usenet discussion group. (Ha, ha.)




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Commerce Department

The U.S. Department of Commerce was started in 1903 and since then has continually changed to keep in step with current economic conditions. Today, the DOC has many agencies, some of which you might be surprised to find in this department. For example, here you will find NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), the Patent and Trademark Office, and the National Weather Service.




Senators are elected for only six years, while representatives are elected for a shorter two-year term. However -- like General MacArthur and adult children without jobs -- they can return. If you would like to check up on your elected representatives, here is all the information you need to find them, send them email, connect to their Web pages, and generally see what they are doing (at least when they think you are looking).




Watch the U.S. government at work, from the comfort of your desktop. C-SPAN is a public-oriented cable TV channel, owned by the U.S. cable television industry. The goal of C-SPAN is to allow Americans to watch all the proceedings in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and other public forums. (The name C-SPAN stands for "Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network".) The idea is that people should be able to watch their elected representatives talk without any editing, commentary or analysis. Of course, from time to time, C-SPAN does get a bit boring. However, at least there are no commercials.



Executive Branch

Never again will you have to hotfoot it around the Net looking for information about the President and his minions. The Library of Congress has compiled a Web page that covers resources pertaining to the executive branch of the federal government and its various departments, as well as independent executive agencies.




The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), created in 1908, is a division of the United States Department of Justice. The FBI investigates various violations of federal law such as kidnapping, bank robbing, sabotage, espionage and civil rights violations. If you have ever been in a United States post office, you may have seen the pictures on the wall of desperate and suspicious-looking individuals. These are fugitives that are being pursued by the FBI. However, you don't have to go into the post office to see these pictures. At the FBI Web site, you can check out the list of the "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" and see if you happen to know any of them. You can also root around the Web site and learn a lot about the FBI. The Usenet group is for the discussion of the FBI and its operations and politics.




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Federal Government Information

No matter what you are looking for in the federal government, these Web sites are the best places to start. They contain links to all major sources of government information. If you are not sure what you want, you can search for it. If you know a specific department, it is only a few mouse clicks away.




The agencies of the U.S. federal government are continually generating an enormous amount of statistics. This Web site can help you find what you need quickly and easily, no matter where it is. My advice is to keep this Web address with you at all times. You never know, for example, when you will need to find out how many electronics technicians were employed by the Federal Aviation Administration in 1984 (7,229).




The U.S. government has hundreds of departments, agencies and programs, all of which offer information to the public. FedWorld is a service supported by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The purpose of FedWorld is to act as a central access point to help you find and obtain the information you want. Without a doubt, when you need to find something related to the federal government, this is the place to start.



General Accounting Office

The General Accounting Office (GAO) is the investigative arm of Congress. The GAO examines matters relating to the receiving and spending of public funds. In practice, the GAO is as close as we can get to a government auditor. The GAO Web site contains reports on budget issues, investment, government management, public services, health care, energy issues and virtually every other major area of the federal government.



Government Corruption

I don't want to talk behind anyone's back, but rumor has it that there is corruption in government. I thought if you were going to hear it, you should get the news from me. Find out the details of what's going on in the nooks and crannies of the political system.




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Government Information

This world is full of such wondrous things, there is never a reason to be bored. For example, the next time you feel a bit of the old ennui, hurry over to this Web site where you can find demographic information about the population, employment, education, and economics of the United States. For example, you can read the Consolidated Federal Funds Reports, or the Census of Agriculture. For a nice change of pace, take a look at Earnings by Occupation and Education.




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Inspectors General

This site has information about the Federal Offices of Inspectors General, the fine folks who are responsible for auditing, investigating and inspecting government agencies. Their goal is to decrease fraud, waste and abuse, and they have the Web page to prove it.



Justice Statistics

Here are some statistics on topics relating to the U.S. Department of Justice, including crimes, victims, drugs, prisons, courts, sentencing, and much more. There is a lot of interesting information here and, in my opinion, it speaks highly of the United States that such information is made accessible, for free, to anyone in the world. In many other countries, information like this is kept secret, not broadcast on the Internet.



Justices of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest federal court in the United States and has jurisdiction over all the other courts in the nation. The Supreme Court consists of judges -- a chief justice and eight associate justices -- all of whom are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Supreme Court has two main duties: to interpret acts of Congress, and to determine whether federal and state statutes conform to the United States Constitution. If you want the scoop on those people currently serving on the Supreme Court, check out these Web sites. They have lists of the justices, along with biographical data and their pictures (in case you run into one of them in the supermarket). You will also find a lengthy and fascinating collection of each judge's opinions for the court: important majority opinions, important concurring opinions, and selected dissenting opinions.



National Archives and Records Administration

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration is the agency that oversees the management of all the records of the federal government. (And you thought it was a big job just keeping your room tidy.) Here you will find a wealth of information, including historical records, the Federal Register (the daily record of the government), genealogical data, links to the presidential libraries, the official U.S. Government Manual (which contains just about everything under the American sun), and much more.



Social Security Administration

You can't get far in the United States without having a Social Security number. But that's only the beginning. The Social Security Administration (SSA) dispenses huge amounts of money each year under the auspices of many different programs. If you are American, I promise you that, one day, you will need information from the SSA. On that day, start with this Web site.



State and Local Government

Just about every state, county and city in the United States has a Web site, and these resources will help you find whatever you need. One day, just for fun, I spent some time cruising through the Los Angeles County Web sites. I found out that the bail for committing assault with a firearm (245(a)(2) Penal Code) is the same as the bail for cultivating peyote (11363 Penal Code): $30,000. Now, is that fun or what? (You know what? I've got to get out of the house more.)



State Department

The United States maintains diplomatic relations with about 180 countries as well as many international organizations. The Department of State is the principal foreign affairs agency of the U.S government. As such, it has two broad mandates: to represent U.S. policies and interests abroad, and to gather information used to create foreign policy. The head of the State Department -- the Secretary of State -- is the fourth in line of presidential succession (after the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate).



White House

Here is the official Internet site for the White House. If you have nothing to do, you might want to connect and see who is living there.



White House News

Each day, you can find out the official word on the activities and goings-on at the White House and related U.S. agencies. This Web site is just the thing to give your son or daughter for a graduation present. (After all, who wants a car?)