This category covers miscellaneous government establishments primarily engaged in public order and safety, not elsewhere classified, including general administration of public order and safety programs. Collection of statistics on overall public safety also is included.
922190 (All Other Justice, Public Order, and Safety)
This government group includes several miscellaneous safety, emergency preparedness, and statistical offices, most of which operate as components of other major government offices, centers, and bureaus. In addition to federal units, each state maintains its own safety, order, and statistical programs, often in cooperation with federal initiatives. Eight of 10 government inspection and compliance positions in the United States are for the purpose of preserving the general welfare and safety of its citizens. These include mine safety and health inspectors, consumer safety inspectors, and highway safety investigators. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were approximately 163,000 inspectors and compliance officers employed during the 1990s (the latest available statistic). Of these, state governments employed about 34 percent, the federal government employed about 31 percent, and local governments about 18 percent. The remaining 17 percent were employed in various private sector positions.
Safety offices exist in a number of major U.S. federal government departments. The Food Safety and Inspection office, for example, is part of the Department of Agriculture and is directed by the Assistant Secretary of Marketing and Inspection Services. It was established in 1981 to regulate and enforce food safety in the meat and poultry industries. The responsibility to monitor the safety of egg products was added in 1994. Likewise, the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition conducts research and develops standards for foods, including additives and colors. It is part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
In addition to food surety, several safety offices are operated within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The Port Safety and Security Program, for instance, is administered by the Coast Guard to enforce marine safety in ports and anchorages. The Federal Highway Administration, also a DOT office, operates a highway safety program that researches and constructs safer roadways. Similarly, the DOT's National Vehicle Safety Program conducts numerous driver and vehicle safety services and educational programs. Besides the DOT, other offices with major safety programs in this category include the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
In response to increased terrorist threats, which included attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, as well as mail tainted with anthrax, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was formed. The Senate approved the new agency in November 2002 as the 107th Congress came to a close. According to the DHS, its formation represented the "most significant transformation of the U.S. government since 1947, when Harry S. Truman merged the various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces into the Department of Defense to better coordinate the nation's defense against military threats."
The DHS includes 22 different government departments that President George W. Bush consolidated in order to better protect the nation. According to the DHS, "The new department's first priority is to protect the nation against further terrorist attacks. Component agencies will analyze threats and intelligence, guard our borders and airports, protect our critical infrastructure, and coordinate the response of our nation for future emergencies. Besides providing a better-coordinated defense of the homeland, DHS is also dedicated to protecting the rights of American citizens and enhancing public services, such as natural disaster assistance and citizen-ship services, by dedicating offices to these important missions."
The DHS consists of five major divisions. The first and largest is Border and Transportation Security (BTS), followed by Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR), Science and Technology (S&T), Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP), and Management. These divisions encompass a variety of agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Customs Service, and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. In addition to these five divisions, the DHS also includes the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Secret Service, the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Office of State and Local Government Coordination, the Office of Private Sector Liaison, and the Office of the Inspector General.
Federal public order offices and agencies also exist under several major departments. One of the largest of these departments is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which responds to national disasters. Established in 1979, it is the focal point within the federal government for emergency planning, preparedness, mitigation, and response. Previously an independent government agency, FEMA was moved under the newly formed Department of Homeland Security in March 2003. From its 10 regional offices, FEMA works closely with state and local governments to provide training and to administer relief programs. It also oversees a taxpayer-supported insurance program that provides inexpensive coverage for homeowners in flood plains destined for destruction. FEMA provided important emergency relief in the 1990s for victims of Hurricane Andrew, Midwest floods, the Oklahoma bombing of a federal building, and a Los Angeles earthquake.
In the early 2000s, FEMA played an instrumental role in responding to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. According to the agency, during that disaster FEMA "coordinated its activities with the newly formed Office of Homeland Security, and FEMA's Office of National Preparedness was given responsibility for helping to ensure that the nation's first responders were trained and equipped to deal with weapons of mass destruction." The U.S. International Development Cooperation Agency's International Disaster Assistance Program provides relief for foreign catastrophe victims.
Like safety and public order offices falling under this classification, several federal departments maintain programs that collect and evaluate safety statistics. Among the largest of these offices is the Department of Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau, which keeps tabs on U.S. households and related demographic data. The Bureau of Justice Statistics collects crime data for the Department of Justice. The DOT has several safety data programs as well, such as the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Together, the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, in which hijacked commercial jets were used to destroy the World Trade Center towers in New York and inflict damage on the Pentagon, represented the greatest threat to public security in U.S. history. In addition to the massive cooperation that was necessary among various federal, state, and local officials to deal with the attacks themselves, these agencies faced an entirely new environment afterward, in which the threat of terrorist attacks became commonplace. Along with the Department of Homeland Security's Homeland Security Council, this new government agency created the Homeland Security Advisory System. The system uses five warning levels to communicate perceived terrorism "threat conditions" to the nation. These levels are: low (green), guarded (blue), elevated (yellow), high (orange), and severe (red). As the potential for an attack increases, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as National Guard units, are increasingly involved in security efforts coordinated by various federal agencies.
Another recent challenge for public safety offices was "Y2K readiness," with intense focus on potential computer failures and "cyberterrorism." By 1999, computers across the nation controlled everything from hospital emergency power to wastewater treatment. A single failure could have affected large numbers of people. For this reason, an estimated 5 million Americans worked through the New Year's weekend in a state of preparedness for any disaster or catastrophe that might manifest. Two million of these were federal, state, and local government employees. FEMA established 10 regional centers to monitor potential catastrophes and in such an event would have had backup support from 26 federal agencies and the Red Cross. The federal government also established 15 emergency command posts continuously feeding reports back to Washington throughout the holiday weekend.
Federal Emergency Management Agency. "About FEMA," 23 May 2003. Available from http://www.fema.gov .
Greenberg, Brigette. "Feds Stand Ready for Disaster." Associated Press Online, 30 December 1999.
Jackson, David and Jim Landers. "The Biggest Civil Defense Exercise in America Went Off Without a Hitch." The Dallas Morning News, 31 December 1999.
"Senate Creates Homeland Security Department, Enacts Terrorism Insurance as 107th Congress Grinds to End," Associated Press. 20 November 2002.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "DHS Organization," 23 May 2003. Available from http://www.dhs.gov .
——. "Homeland Security Advisory System," 21 May 2003. Available from http://www.dhs.gov .
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: 1998-99. Washington, DC: GPO, 1999.
——. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: GPO, 1996.