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U.S. Government Resources: Government Resources

The Bradner Library is a selective Federal Depository Library. The Library has a collection of historical and current U.S. government documents from the Government Printing Office as part of the FDLP.

Branches of Government

How the U.S. Government Is Organized3 Branches of U.S. Government infographic

U.S. Government Structure

The Constitution of the United States divides the federal government into three branches to ensure a central government in which no individual or group gains too much control:

  1. Legislative – Makes laws (Congress)
  2. Executive – Carries out laws (President, Vice President, Cabinet)
  3. Judicial – Evaluates laws (Supreme Court and Other Courts)

Each branch of government can change acts of the other branches as follows:

  • The president can veto laws passed by Congress.
  • Congress confirms or rejects the president's appointments and can remove the president from office in exceptional circumstances.
  • The justices of the Supreme Court, who can overturn unconstitutional laws, are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The U.S. federal government seeks to act in the best interests of its citizens through this system of checks and balances.

Legislative Branch

The legislative branch enacts legislation, confirms or rejects presidential appointments, and has the authority to declare war.

This branch includes Congress (the Senate and House of Representatives) and several agencies that provide support services to Congress. American citizens have the right to vote for senators and representatives through free, confidential ballots.

  • Senate - There are two elected senators per state, totaling 100 senators. A senate term is six years and there's no limit to the number of terms an individual can serve.
  • House of Representatives - There are 435 elected representatives, which are divided among the 50 states in proportion to their total population. There are additional non-voting delegates who represent the District of Columbia and the territories. A representative serves a two-year term, and there's no limit to the number of terms an individual can serve.

Executive Branch

The executive branch carries out and enforces laws. It includes the president, vice president, the Cabinet, executive departments, independent agencies, and other boards, commissions, and committees.

American citizens have the right to vote for the president and vice president through free, confidential ballots.

Key roles of the executive branch include:

  • President - The president leads the country. He/she is the head of state, leader of the federal government, and commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces. The president serves a four-year term and can be elected no more than two times.
  • Vice President - The vice president supports the president. If the president is unable to serve, the vice president becomes president. He/she can serve an unlimited number of four-year terms.
  • The Cabinet - Cabinet members serve as advisors to the president. They include the vice president and the heads of executive departments. Cabinet members are nominated by the president and must be approved by the Senate (with at least 51 votes).

Judicial Branch

The judicial branch interprets the meaning of laws, applies laws to individual cases, and decides if laws violate the Constitution.

The judicial branch is comprised of the Supreme Court and other federal courts.

  • Supreme Court - The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. The justices of the Supreme Court are nominated by the president and must be approved by the Senate (with at least 51 votes). Congress decides the number of justices. Currently, there are nine. There is no fixed term for justices. They serve until their death, retirement, or removal in exceptional circumstances.
  • Other Federal Courts - The Constitution grants Congress the authority to establish other federal courts.

FDsys

What does FDsys stand for?
FDsys is GPO’s Federal Digital System - America’s Authentic Government Information

What is the URL for FDsys?
Anyone can access FDsys at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/

What is FDsys?
FDsys provides free online access to official Federal Government publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. Through FDsys, you are able to:

  • Search for documents and publications
    — FDsys provides advanced search capabilities and the ability to refine and narrow your search for quick access to the information you need.
  • Browse for documents and publications
    — FDsys offers browsing by collection, Congressional committee, and date.
  • Access metadata about documents and publications
  • — FDsys presents information about Government publications in standard XML formats.
  • Download documents and publications in multiple renditions or file formats
    — With FDsys, download a single file or download content and metadata packaged together in a compressed file

    FDsys enables GPO to manage Government publications from Congress and Federal agencies that are submitted to GPO in digital form, gathered from Federal Web sites, and created by scanning previously printed publications. Through FDsys, GPO is utilizing new technologies and methods for acquiring, authenticating, preserving, and providing access to Government publications in digital form.

FDsys is:

  • A Content Management System:
    FDsys provides free online access to official Federal Government publications and securely controls digital content throughout its lifecycle to ensure content integrity and authenticity.
  • A Preservation Repository:
    The repository guarantees long-term preservation and access to digital Government content. To meet this critical need for continued access to Federal Government information, FDsys follows archival system
    standards.
  • An Advanced Search Engine:
    FDsys combines modern search technology with extensive metadata creation to ensure the highest quality search experience.

What is the history behind Government information online from GPO?
In 1993, Congress passed the U.S. Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act (Public Law 103-40), which expanded GPO’s mission to provide electronic access to Federal Government information. In June 1994, GPO launched GPO Access, which provides online access to information from all three branches of the Federal Government. For more than 15 years GPO Access was America’s source for Government information online, but in 2009 GPO unveiled the next generation of Government information online with the Federal Digital System (FDsys).

Budget of the United States of America

Electoral College and the National Archives

Ask a Librarian

Vicki Dixon's picture
Vicki Dixon
Contact:
734-462-7626

Ask a Librarian

Vicki Dixon's picture
Vicki Dixon
Contact:
734-462-7626