This Mini Unit includes a timeline of when the various departments came into existence (and in some cases went out of existence, though that usually just meant joining another department or being split into two departments). It also includes a card for each department with the department seal, its establishment date, its primary mission as best we could determine it, and its website. And it includes the National Budget Activity that got us looking for all of this information.
I also include a few notes on the President’s Cabinet over the years – since the Cabinet is comprised of his most senior appointed officers, which are mostly the heads of these various federal departments. An interesting note on cabinets – President Washington had four members of his cabinet, President Lincoln had seven, and President Obama has about twenty-two.
I was teaching an Economics class this week on the country’s budget (with the National Budget Activity included at the end of this e-book) and we kept running into similar questions: What does the Interior Department do? What exactly is the Department of Energy? What are the responsibilities of the Agriculture Department? Etc.
A “quick” look for those answers revealed just how difficult it was to find some of that information. I finally located websites for each of the departments and actually came up with some sort of a mission statement for each one. Some of the statements were fairly short, and not very definitive. Others were much more exhaustive (and exhausting!). All begged the question as we looked at them, when did each of these departments gain these particular powers and through what Constitutional mandate (or at least blessing) did the need for such federal departments arise?