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How Our National (Federal) Government Is Organized

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The President ... may require the Opinion, in writ-
ing, of the principal officer in each of the executive
departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of
their respective offices .
-Section 2 of the Second Article of the

Federal Constitution.

* In the last chapter you studied the duties and services of 6 of the 10 Executive Departments of the Federal Government and discovered many ways in which they "promote the general welfare” of the United States. In this chapter we shall give the same consideration to the remaining 4 Departments and to some of the many other organizations that have been created by the laws of the Congress to serve the people.



The principal objective of the Department of the Interior is to protect and develop the national resources of the country, including both the wealth of nature and certain of our human resources, for the benefit of all the people.

Among the many services rendered by the Department of the Interior in carrying out this objective are the following:

1. It supervises the public lands of the United States, including range lands reserved for grazing.

2. It studies the natural resources and products of the United States and exercises some control over the production of oil, coal, natural gas, water power, minerals, and other products of the earth.

3. It supervises the study of irrigated (watered) lands and the water resources to be used on such lands, and directs the spending of money made available by the reclamation laws for construction and operation of irrigation projects.

4. It investigates the cause of accidents in mines and studies methods of preventing accidents and waste.

5. It supervises the health, welfare, and education of the Indian citizens of the United States.

6. It administers the Federal laws which regulate hunting and fishing (either as a business or for pleasure, and protects the Nation's fish, wild life, and wild fowl resources.

7. It supervises the national parks of the United States, protects their natural beauty, and makes them available as playgrounds for the American people.

8. It is responsible for the administration of the government of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands; and exercises certain powers relative to the Territories of Hawaii and Alaska, including the operation of the government railroad in Alaska.

9. It administers and protects the public lands and domains of the United States.


The principal objective of the Department of Agriculture is to help the farmer to raise good crops and sell them at a profit. In carrying out this general purpose, the Department renders many services, some of which affect all of our people. It also puts into effect the acts passed by the Congress in an effort to adjust the production of crops to the demand for them, so that there will not be great surpluses which cannot be sold or great shortages which raise food prices too high for the consumer.

Among the many services rendered by the Department of Agriculture are the following:

1. It encourages soil-building practices and crop rotation, in order to hold and increase the fertility of the Nation's farms.

2. It cooperates to develop better livestock, to protect the Nation's supply of meat and dairy products.

3. It advises the farmer on problems of farm drainage, farm buildings, farm machinery, and water supplies.

4. It issues reports on the supply, movements, and prices of farm products, thus helping the farmer to sell his crops intelligently.

5. It fights animal and plant diseases and insect pests.

6. It maintains national forests and protects the timber supply of the country.

7. It provides a complete and coordinated credit system for agriculture and also credit facilities for farmers' cooperative marketing, purchasing, and business service organizations.

8. It makes loans to finance the construction of rural electric systems.


The principal objectives of the Department of Commerce are to promote and develop the foreign and domestic commerce of the United States, the mining, manufacturing, shipping, and fishing industries and the transportation facilities of the United States.

In carrying out these general objectives the Department of Commerce renders many services through the bureaus and agencies under its jurisdiction. Among them are the following:

1. The Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce studies the production and distribution of goods and encourages and promotes commerce at home and abroad. It maintains 25 branch offices at important points in the United States as an aid in furnishing to businessmen the latest trade information.

2. The Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation inspects and issues permits for merchant vessels and licenses officers and crews so as to assure the safety of ships, passengers, and cargoes. 3. The Coast and Geodetic Survey conducts surveys

and prepares charts of our seacoast and tidewater rivers and reports upon tides and currents to safeguard shipping.

4. The Bureau of the Census takes a population census of the country every 10 years. It is continuously engaged in gathering other statistics and taking censuses covering manufacturing and many other subjects.

5. The Patent Office grants special rights by issuance of patents for inventions and by registration of trade-marks, prints, and labels.

6. The Bureau of Standards establishes and maintains official weights and measures, so that all people may be treated alike by merchants and manufacturers and protected against fraud. This Bureau also makes many tests to determine standard qualities of articles.

7. The Inland Waterways Corporation promotes and develops inland waterway transportation of the United States and operates Government-owned barge lines on the Mississippi and Warrior Rivers.

8. Through the Weather Bureau, it issues weather forecasts and storm, cold-wave, frost, forest-fire, and flood warnings.

9. The Civil Aeronautics Administration encourages and fosters the development of civil aeronautics and air commerce, and makes provision for the control and protection of air traffic moving in air commerce.


The principal objectives of the Department of Labor are “to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment."

Among the services rendered by the Department of Labor in carrying out its general objectives are the following:

1. It collects information on the subject of labor, especially upon its relations with employers, the hours and wages of workers, and ways of promoting their welfare.

2. It helps to settle trade disputes between employers and workers in a peaceable manner.

3. It gathers and publishes information about children of all classes, especially on such subjects as causes of death among infants, the birth rate, care of small children, dangerous occupations, and employment.

4. It reports on all matters relating to the welfare of women in industry.

5. It helps to set up better working conditions in all parts of the country, with reasonable protection for the health and safety of the workers.

6. It sets standards on hours, wages, and working conditions under which many kinds of Government supplies are manufactured.

7. It enforces legal limitations against low wages and long hours.

THE INDEPENDENT AGENCIES Besides the 10 Executive Departments there are many other Government groups and agencies which have been given part of the duty of putting into effect the Federal laws. These are usually called Independent Agencies or Offices because they are not a part of the 10 Executive Departments and are not responsible to them. Some are organized as independent units because the work allotted to them by law is entirely different from the work of any of the Executive Departments; some are more like courts (established to explain and apply some special law or to find out and report on some special set of facts); some do a

; special kind of work for all of the Executive Departments.

To finish this chapter, we will name and give a short description of many independent agencies of our Federal Government. We do not suggest that any of our readers try to remember them all, but by reading the names and descriptions you will once more be impressed with the great number of services which a modern government must do for its people in our complex present-day life.

THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION holds competitive examinations to guide the Government in choosing wellqualified workers for over 1,700 kinds of positions; these examinations are held in hundreds of convenient places throughout the United States. More and more Govern

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