With more than 1.8 million civilian employees, the Federal Government, excluding the Postal Service is the Nation’s largest employer.About 9 out of 10 Federal employees work outside the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Job growth generated by increased homeland security needs will be offset by projected declines in other Federal sectors; however, many job openings should arise from the need to replace workers who retire or leave the Federal Government for other reasons. Competition is expected for many Federal positions, especially during times of economic uncertainty, when workers seek the stability of Federal employment.
[ Source - Career Guide to Industries ]
The Federal Government’s essential duties include defending the United States from foreign aggression and terrorism, representing U.S. interests abroad, enforcing laws and regulations, and administering domestic programs and agencies. U.S. citizens are particularly aware of the Federal Government when they pay their income taxes each year, but they usually do not consider the government’s role when they watch a weather forecast, purchase fresh and uncontaminated groceries, travel by highway or air, or make a deposit at their bank. Workers employed by the Federal Government play a vital role in these and many other aspects of our daily lives.
More than 200 years ago, the founders of the United States gathered in Philadelphia, PA, to create a constitution for a new national government and lay the foundation for self-governance. The Constitution of the United States, ratified by the last of the 13 original States in 1791, created the three branches of the Federal Government and granted certain powers and responsibilities to each. The legislative, judicial, and executive branches were created with equal powers but very different responsibilities that act to keep their powers in balance.
The legislative branch is responsible for forming and amending the legal structure of the Nation. Its largest component is Congress, the primary U.S. legislative body, which is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. This body includes senators, representatives, their staffs, and various support workers. The legislative branch employs only about one percent of Federal workers, nearly all of whom work in the Washington, DC area.
The judicial branch is responsible for interpreting the laws that the legislative branch enacts. The Supreme Court, the Nation’s definitive judicial body, makes the highest rulings. Its decisions usually follow the appeal of a decision made by the one of the regional Courts of Appeal, which hear cases appealed from U.S. District Courts, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, or State Supreme Courts. U.S. District Courts are located in each State and are the first to hear most cases under Federal jurisdiction. The judicial branch employs more than one percent of Federal workers; unlike the legislative branch, its offices and employees are dispersed throughout the country.
Of the three branches, the executive branch—through the power vested by the Constitution in the office of the President—has the widest range of responsibilities. Consequently, it employed about 98 percent of all Federal civilian employees (excluding Postal Service workers) in 2005. The executive branch is composed of the Executive Office of the President, 15 executive Cabinet departments—including the newly created Department of Homeland Security—and nearly 90 independent agencies, each of which has clearly defined duties. The Executive Office of the President is composed of several offices and councils that aid the President in policy decisions. These include the Office of Management and Budget, which oversees the administration of the Federal budget; the National Security Council, which advises the President on matters of national defense; and the Council of Economic Advisers, which makes economic policy recommendations.
Each of the 15 executive Cabinet departments administers programs that oversee an aspect of life in the United States. The highest departmental official of each Cabinet department, the Secretary, is a member of the President’s Cabinet.
[ Excerpted from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2008-09 Edition - Federal Government ]