Lesson II-4: Federal government

March 16th, 2009 by Jack Styczynski

Points of emphasis for critical thinking:

  1. As you may remember from elementary school, there are three branches of the federal government–executive, legislative and judicial.  For the purposes of this lesson, we’ll be concentrating mainly on executive branch offices and resources.  (The judicial branch was covered in the fall during the Craft I courts lesson.)
  2. The executive branch is comprised of cabinet-level departments (e.g. Secretary of State heads State Department, Secretary of Defense heads Defense Department, etc.).  There are also various bureaus, agencies, administrations, commissions, boards and offices.  Some of these (e.g. Census Bureau, FAA, FBI, FEMA) are part of the executive branch departments.  Others (e.g. CIA, EPA, FCC, FDIC, FECNASA, NTSB, SEC) are independent of them.
  3. As is the case with NYC.gov, there are many federal government resources and databases not easily found from the main pages of sites, and even if you luck out and find them via a Google search, the information contained within rarely can be found without going to the resource and database pages themselves.  Thus, the more you familiarize yourself with them, the better.
  4. Among the most useful federal government resources are those provided by the Census Bureau, which we’ll discuss more during a separate lesson later in the semester.  There are also great databases related to labor, occupational safety, campaign finance, education, health, transportation, crime and business.  See this lesson’s handout for more details.

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