DEPARTAMENT OF COMMERCE
The Department of Commerce serves to promote the nation's international trade, economic growth and technological advancement. It offers assistance and information to increase America's competitiveness in the world economy; administers programs to prevent unfair foreign trade competition; and provides social and economic statistics and analyses for business and government planners. The department comprises a diverse array of agencies. The National Bureau of Standards, for example, conducts scientific and technical research, and maintains physical measurement systems for industry and government. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which includes the National Weather Service, works to improve understanding of the physical environment and oceanic resources. The Patent and Trademark Office grants patents and registers trademarks. The department also conducts research and develops policy on telecommunications; promotes domestic economic development and foreign travel to the United States; and assists in the growth of businesses owned and operated by minorities.
DEPARTAMENT OF DEFENCE
Headquartered in the Pentagon, the "world's largest office building," the Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for all matters relating to the nation's military security. It provides the military forces of the United States, which consist of about two million men and women on active duty. They are backed, in case of emergency, by 2.5 million members of state reserve components, known as the National Guard. In addition, about one million civilian employees serve in the Defense Department in such areas as research, intelligence communications, mapping and international security affairs. The National Security Agency (NSA) also comes under the direction of the secretary of defense. The department directs the separately organized military departments of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, as well as each service academy and the National War College, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and several specialized combat commands. DOD maintains forces overseas to meet treaty commitments, to protect the nation's outlying territories and commerce, and to provide air combat and support forces. Nonmilitary responsibilities include flood control, development of oceanographic resources and management of oil reserves.
DEPARTAMENT OF EDUCATION
The Department of Education absorbed most of the education programs previously conducted by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, as well as programs that had been handled by six other agencies. The department establishes policy for and administers more than 150 federal aid-to-education programs, including student loan programs, programs for migrant workers, vocational programs, and special programs for the handicapped. The Department of Education also partially supports the American Printing House for the Blind; Gallaudet University, established to provide a liberal higher education for deaf persons; the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, part of the Rochester (New York) Institute of Technology, designed to educate deaf students within a college campus, but planned primarily for hearing students; and Howard University in Washington, D.C., a comprehensive university which accepts students of all races, but concentrates on educating black Americans.
DEPARTAMENT OF ENERGY
Growing concern with the nation's energy problems in the 1970s prompted Congress to create the Department of Energy (DOE). The department took over the functions of several government agencies already engaged in the energy field. Staff offices within the DOE are responsible for the research, development and demonstration of energy technology; energy conservation; civilian and military use of nuclear energy; regulation of energy production and use; pricing and allocation of oil;
and a central energy data collection and analysis program. The department protects the nation's environment by setting standards to minimize the harmful effects of energy production. For example, DOE conducts environmental and health-related research, such as studies of energy-related pollutants and their effects on biological systems.
DEPARTAMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) probably directly touches the lives of more Americans than any other federal agency. Its largest component, the Social Security Administration, pools contributions from employers and employees to pay benefits to workers and their families who have retired, died or become disabled. Social Security contributions help pay medical bills for those 65 years and older as well, under a program called Medicare. Through a separate program, called Medicaid, HHS provides grants to states to help pay the medical costs of the poor. HHS also administers a network of medical research facilities through the National Institutes of Health, and the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Other HHS agencies ensure the safety and effectiveness of the nation's food supply and drugs, work to prevent outbreaks of communicable diseases, and provide health services to the nation's American Indian and native Alaskan populations. In cooperation with the states, HHS operates the principal federal welfare program for the poor, called Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) manages programs that assist community development and help provide affordable housing for the nation. Fair housing laws, administered by HUD, are designed to ensure that individuals and families can buy a dwelling without being subjected to housing discrimination. HUD directs mortgage insurance programs that help families become homeowners, and a rent-subsidy program for low-income families who otherwise could not afford decent housing. In addition, it operates programs that aid neighborhood rehabilitation, preserve urban centers from blight and encourage the development of new communities. HUD also protects the home buyer in the marketplace and fosters programs to stimulate the housing industry.
DEPARTMENT OFTHE INTERIOR
As the nation's principal conservation agency, the Department of the Interior has responsibility for most of the federally owned public lands and natural resources in the United States. The Fish and Wildlife Service, for example, administers 442 wildlife refuges, 150 waterfowl production areas, and a network of wildlife laboratories and fish hatcheries. The National Park Service administers more than 340 national parks and scenic monuments, riverways, seashores, recreation areas and historic sites. Through the Bureau of Land Management, the department oversees the land and resources—from timber and grazing to oil production and recreation—on millions of hectares of public land located primarily in the West. The Bureau of Reclamation manages scarce water resources in the semiarid western United States. The department regulates mining in the United States, assesses mineral resources, and has major responsibility for American Indians living on reservations. Internationally, the department administers programs in U.S. territories such as the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and Palau, and provides funding for development to the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
The attorney general, the chief law officer of the federal government, is in charge of the Department of Justice. The department represents the U.S. government in legal matters and courts of law, and renders legal advice and opinions, upon request, to the president and to the heads of the executive departments. Its Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the principle law enforcement body, and its Immigration and Naturalization Service administers immigration laws. A major agency within the department is the Drug Enforcement Administration, (DEA), which administers narcotics and controlled substances laws, and tracks down major illicit drug trafficking organizations. The Justice Department also gives aid to local police forces. In addition, the department directs U.S. district attorneys and marshals throughout the country, supervises federal prisons and other penal institutions, and investigates and reports to the president on petitions for paroles and pardons. The Justice Department is also linked to INTERPOL, the International Criminal Police Organization, charged with promoting mutual assistance between law enforcement agencies in 146 countries.