Federal agencies are government departments, corporations, or establishments that are a branch of the federal government. They are formed to tackle a specific purpose, task, or issue – for example, regulation of industries, markets, and education.
Federal agencies in the U.S. are created by legislation or presidential order for the purpose of regulation or oversight of a practice or an industry. The heads of U.S. federal agencies are typically selected and appointed by the incumbent president.
Types of Federal Agencies
Below are some of the federal agencies in the United States:
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for the public’s security in the entire United States. The DHS’s mission is to secure the United States from different types of threats against the country’s critical infrastructure, borders, and ports. It performs its role through aviation, border, and other homeland security operations. The department employs roughly 240,000 people.
In addition to traditional security operations and counterterrorism activities, the Department of Homeland Security also employs individuals working in cyberspace and various chemical facilities. It also collaborates with other federal agencies and international agencies to conduct security operations.
Department of the Treasury
As the national treasury of the U.S. federal government, the goal and mission of the Department of the Treasury are to create economic and job opportunities to maintain a strong economy. The Treasury Department works to encourage conditions that promote economic stability and growth.
It also aims to protect the integrity of the U.S. financial system, strengthen national security and manage the federal government’s resources and finances. The current secretary of the Treasury (as of March 2021) is Janet Yellen. The department currently employs about 87,500 people.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The goal and mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are to protect and promote the environment and human health. The EPA’s oversight function includes ensuring that United States citizens enjoy clean air, water, and land.
Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency promotes efforts to minimize environmental risks by applying the best scientific research, information, and resources. It also promotes that environment oversight is key to policies revolving around natural resources, energy, human health, and economic growth.
Department of Commerce
The mission of the U.S. Department of Commerce is to create conditions that foster economic opportunity and growth. In addition, it encourages increases in job opportunities.
The Commerce Department achieves its mission by providing vital data to maintain constitutional democracy and commerce. Furthermore, by conducting research and imposing standards, it promotes innovation.
The department was created on February 14, 1903 as the U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor. On March 4, 1913, the department’s name was changed and the agencies concentrating on labor were transferred to the Department of Labor.
Federal Agencies and Securities
Federal agencies issue debt in the form of bonds to raise capital to fund their operations, projects, and other activities. Some federal agency bonds are not guaranteed to the same standard that municipal bonds and Treasuries are. Also, federal agency bonds are not as liquid as Treasuries. To compensate investors, they offer higher interest rates.
However, federal agency bonds operate and act like any other bond; typically, they offer semi-annual coupon payments. In addition to bonds, federal agencies can also issue stocks to raise capital. Examples of a federal agency that issue equity on the capital markets are Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Sallie Mae.
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