Agencies Page 3


What to Know about the General Services Administration

What to Know about the General Services Administration

What is the General Services Administration?

The General Services Administration is an independent agency of the United States Federal government that is responsible for managing and supporting the basic functioning of other federal agencies. Established in 1949, the General Services Administration supplies products and communication-based resources to a number of government offices. Furthermore, the General Services Administration will also provide transportation and office space to employees of the United States Government. These services are instituted in tandem with a cost-minimizing policy that is formally developed and updated annually by the General Services Administration. 

Quick Facts Concerning the General Services Administration:

• The General Services Administration was formed on July 1st of 1949

• The General Services Administration maintains its headquarters in the Administration Building, located on F Street in North Western Washington, D.C.

• The General Services Administration operates with approximately 12,000 employees and under an annual budget of roughly 21 billion dollars. 

• The current hierarchy of the General Services Administration is as follows: Martha Johnson is the Administrator of General Services; Susan Brita is the Deputy Administrator; Steve Kempf is the acting commissioner of a partner agency; and Robert Peck is the commissioner of the PBS.

What does the General Services Administration do?

The General Services Administration presently contributes to the management of roughly $500 billion in U.S. federal property–these funds are divided chiefly among the 8,300 owned and leased buildings, as well as the 210,000 vehicle pool. Among the real estate properties managed by the General Services Administration are the Ronal Reagan Building and International Trade Center and the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center. The business lines of the General Services Administration include the Federal Acquisition Service and the Public Buildings Service. Other divisions of the agency include the Office of Government wide Policy and a number of Staff Offices, such as the Office of Civil Rights. 

The General Services Administration assists with procurement work for a number of governmental agencies. As part of this effort, the General Services Administration maintains its own schedule, with which other agencies can observe to order goods and services. This schedule can be viewed as a collection of pre-negotiated contracts, implemented for the sole purpose of increased organization. 


Understanding Civil Service

Understanding Civil Service

What is Civil Service?
Civil Service carries the following definitions: 
o Government or public service where individuals are employed based on professional merit as proven by actions and examinations 
o Any organization in any government agency other than the armed forces
The term “civic” or “public servant” refers to any individual in the public sector who is employed by a government department or agency. As stated above, the term “civil service” excludes all members of the military; however, public servants may be employed in various defense branches as civilian aides. 
Public service employees always include individuals employed by the state; the term encompasses all government workers, including sub-state, regional or municipal employees. A number of people consider the study of civil service to be placed within the field of public administration—employees in a non-departmental public body may also be grouped as civil servants for the purpose of statistics. 
Civil Service in the United States:
In the United States, the civil service industry was formally established in 1872. The Federal Civil Service agency, as a whole, is regarded as the complete series of “appointive positions in the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the Government of the United States, with the exception of the uniformed service branches.”
In the early part of the 19th century, government jobs were held at the discretion of the President—a government employee could be fired at any time. This system ultimately stripped the government of an efficient civil service sector—these jobs were used to support the political parties. The spoils system was eventually replaced by the passing of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 and subsequent legislation. 
By 1909, approximately 2/3 of the United States federal work force was appointed based on merit—qualifications were measured by government-administered tests. Other senior civil service positions, including various heads of diplomatic missions and executive agencies were filled through political appointments. 
Presently, the United States Civil service includes the Excepted and Competitive service. The majority of civil service appointments are made under the Competitive service but certain categories in the Diplomatic Service—including jobs within the FBI—are made under the Excepted Service. The majority of state and local governments will utilize a competitive civil service system modeled after the federal system. 
As of 2007, the Federal Government of the United States (excluding the postal service) employed approximately 1.8 million civilian workers. These statistics make the government the Nation’s single largest employer. 
Although the majority of federal agencies and departments are based in the Washington D.C. region, only 15% of the federal government workforce is employed in the area. 

Understanding Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Understanding Federal Sentencing Guidelines

What are Federal l Sentencing Guidelines?

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are a list of formal rules that establish a uniform sentencing policy for individuals and organizations convicted of serious Class A misdemeanors and felonies in the United States federal courts system. The sentencing structure affirmed by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines do not apply to less serious infractions.

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines determine sentences based primarily on the following two factors:

o The conduct associated with the felony or Class a misdemeanor and the defendant’s criminal history

o These two factors are outlines in the Guidelines Manual or the affirmed Federal Sentencing Guidelines. This manual shows the relationship between the above factors; each offense level and criminal history category matches with a sentencing range, in months, within which the respective court can sentence the defendant.  

Offense Levels and Criminal History:

In addition to the table, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines utilizes 43 offense level; the offense level of a defendant is determined by viewing the offense in Chapter 2 of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and applying applicable adjustments. 

Attached to the 43 offense levels are six separate criminal history categories; each criminal history category is associated with a range of criminal history points. So, for example, a defendant with a 0 or 1 criminal history point would be listed in Criminal History Category VI. The criminal history points are calculated by adding 3 points for each prior conviction or imprisonment that exceeds one year and one month. 2 points is added for each prior sentence or imprisonment of at least sixty days but no more than 13 months. And 1 point is added for each prior sentence of less than sixty days.

Who Establishes the Federal Sentencing Guidelines?

The United States Sentencing Commission is an independent agency of the judicial of the United States Federal Government. Although the United States Sentencing Commission maintains an independent status, the agency works closely with law makers and the judicial branch of government to articulate the sentencing guidelines for the federal court system. 

The United States Sentencing Commission is regarded as a fundamental agency to the United States Federal Government because of its influence and expertise regarding the establishment of adequate sentencing guidelines. The United States Sentencing Commission promulgates the Federal Sentencing Guidelines—the fundamental framework used to establish punishments. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines replaced the prior framework, which utilized an indeterminate sentencing system. In the previous system, trial judges were permitted to give sentences ranging from probation to the maximum statutory punishment for the underlying offense. 


National Institute of Standards and Technology

National Institute of Standards and Technology

What is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)?

Previously known as the National Bureau of Standards, The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a measurement standards lab which functions as a non-regulatory agency of the United States Department of Commerce. The organization’s official mission to promote innovative and industrial competitiveness through the advancement of standards, technology and the overall measurement of science in ways that bolster economic security and the general population’s quality of life. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) possesses an operating budget of approximately $85 million per year—the agency also receives grants and funding as part of stimulus packages, such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) employs roughly 3,000 engineers, technicians, scientists, administrative and support personnel. Approximately 1,8000 guest researchers and engineers from American institutions or companies complement The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) full-time staff. Additionally, The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) partners with roughly 1,500 manufacturing specialists at nearly 350 affiliated offices around the United States. 

History of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):

From 1830 until the 20th century, the role of overseeing measures and weights was carried out by the Office of Standard Weights and Measures—an office of the United States Treasury Department. This office eventually became the National Bureau of Standards on July 1st of 2901. This organization was later renamed and reorganized into the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 1988. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is currently headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The agency also operates a full-functioning facility in Boulder, Colorado. Activities of The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are organized into extramural and laboratory programs. On October 1st of 2010, The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)was reorganized through a reduction of its laboratory units from ten to six. Currently, The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) is made up of the following laboratories:

• Information Technology Laboratory

• Engineering Laboratory

• Material Measurement Laboratory

• Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology

• Material Measurement Laboratory

• The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for Neutron Research

The extramural programs of The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) include the following:

• Technology Innovation Program: a grant program where The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), with its industry partners, share early-stage developments of innovative, but risky, technologies. 

• Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership: this program is a nationwide network, comprised of centers to assist small and mid-sized manufacturers to retain and create jobs, improve efficiencies and reduce waste through process improvements. This program seeks to increase market penetration through innovation and detailed growth strategies

• The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award: This is the nation’s highest award for business performance and general excellence

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Boulder Laboratories are most widely-known for housing an atomic clock, officially labeled the NISTF-F1. This piece of equipment serves as the source of the United States’ official time. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) also operates a neutron science user facility (The NIST Center for Neutron Research). The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides scientists access to several neutron scattering instruments, which are utilized in various fields of research, including fuel cells, materials science and biotechnologies. 

As part of its general mission, The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) supplies academia, industry, government and other users with over 1,500 Standard Reference Materials. These resources and artifacts are officially certifies as possessing specific characteristics or component content, utilized as calibration standards for measuring procedures and equipment, as well as quality control benchmarks for experimental control samples and industrial processes. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) operates with seven standing committees:

• Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction

• Technical Guidelines Development Committee

• Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board

• National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee

• Baldrige National Quality Program Board of Overseers

• Manufacturing Extension Partnership National Advisory Board

• The Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is currently developing a government-wide identification card standards for its federal contractors and employees to prevent unauthorized people from gaining access to federal computer systems and buildings. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) played a significant role in the World Trade Center Collapse Investigation. In 2002, the National Construction Safety Team Act gave authority to The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to conduct a formal investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Towers (buildings 1, 2 and 7). This investigation, which was directed by lead investigator Shyam Sunder, covered three primary aspects, including a fire safety and technical building investigation to inspect the factors that contributed to the probable cause of the collapses of the World Trade Towers and the World Trade center Building 7. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) also established a research program to provide the technical basis for building and fire codes, practices, standards and a dissemination program to engage leaders of the building and construction community in implementing proposed alterations to pre-applied practices, codes and standards. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is currently providing practical tools to better prepare facility contractors, owners, engineers, emergency responders, architects and regulatory authorities to respond to future catastrophes. The investigation aspect of the response plan was finalized with the release of the final report concerning World Trade Center Tower 7 on the 20th of November in 2008. The final report concerning the World Trade Center Towers was formally released on October 26th of 2005.