Resources on the basic concepts that serve as the
foundation of the United States government, including principles, documents,
speeches, and more.
Introduction to the U.S. System
Outline of U.S. Government
A publication of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International
Information Programs, revised and updated in 2000. This book explains what
makes U.S. government uniquely American...its Constitution, the separation of
powers, the concept of "checks and balances," the decentralized roles of state
and local governments, and a citizenry with wide opportunity to be part of it
Our American Government
A popular introductory guide from the U.S. Congress for those who seek a
greater understanding of our heritage of democracy. The question-and-answer
format covers a broad range of topics dealing with the legislative, executive,
and judicial branches of our Government as well as the electoral process and
the role of political parties. 2003 edition.
American National Government: An Overview
This report from the U.S. Congressional Research Service looks at the
distribution of power in the federal government as derived from the
constitution and the balance and separation of powers. January 2001.
Learn About the United States: Quick Civics
A study guide from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, organized in
a question and answer format. The pamphlet covers basic information on U.S
history, the organization of the U.S. government and how it functions.
The Formation of a National
The history of the formation of the national government in the U.S., from 1783
- 1814, from the Outline of U.S. History, U.S. Department of State,
Bureau of International Information Programs, 2005.
The World Factbook: United States
A brief summary of key facts and statistics about the U.S., extracted from the
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook.
A Responsive Government
A discussion of the separation of powers in the U.S. government and the
democratic process. From A Portrait of the U.S.A., U.S. Department of
State, Bureau of International Information Programs, 1999.
U.S. Government Manual
Official handbook of the Federal Government, which provides comprehensive
information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive
U.S. Government Policy and Supporting
Position (The Plum Book)
This publication contains information on over 7,000 Federal civil service
leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of
the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointment.
U.S. Foreign Policy in the 21st Century
This electronic journal features essays by each regional bureau Assistant
Secretary outlining U.S. policy in that region. Each essay also explains the
Assistant Secretary's personal vision for that region, and outlines how the
Secretary's "transformational diplomacy" will help our international partners
build and sustain democratic, well-governed states. U.S. Department of State,
Bureau of International Information Programs, September, 2006.
Significant Events in U.S. Foreign Relations
Focusing on a number of seminal world events, this issue of eJournal USA:
Foreign Policy Agenda offers a framework for examining how U.S. foreign
relations have evolved over the past century, influenced by the legacy of
America's founding ideals of protecting individual rights and freedom. U.S.
Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, April, 2006.
12 essays on democracy-building covering the following topics: Root Principles
of Democracy, Constitutionalism, Democratic Elections, Federalism and
Democracy, Creation of Law in a Democratic Society, Role of an Independent
Judiciary, Powers of the Presidency, Role of a Free Media, Role of Interest
Groups, The Public's Right to Know, Protecting Minority Rights, and Civilian
Control of the Military. U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International
Information Programs, 2001.
Principles of Democracy
Explains fundamental principles that contribute to making a democratic
government work effectively. This series of one-page primers provides the
reader with a concise definition of democracy and expands on supporting
elements such as good governance and the rights and responsibilities of people
living in democracies. U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International
Information Programs, March 2005.
Basic Readings in U.S. Democracy
A collection of documents, including speeches, letters, court decisions and
presidential decrees, that define the American quest for democracy. U.S.
Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs.
Constitutional Protection of Freedom of
This article discusses the constitutional right of freedom of speech for both
individuals and the press. Robert S. Peck, An Unfettered Press, U.S.
Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, rev. ed.
Foundations of Democracy
This Department of State electronic journal focuses on several key components
of genuine democracies and the experiences of various nations in fashioning the
form of democracy that suits their cultures, protects minority populations, and
helps all citizens fulfill their aspirations. U.S. Department of State, Bureau
of International Information Programs, December 2005.
Constitutionalism and Emerging Democracies
This Department of State electronic journal presents several perspectives on
constitutionalism, key components of a successful constitution, and the
experiences of various nations throughout history in crafting constitutions
uniquely their own. U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International
Information Programs, March 2004
American Federalism, 1776 to 1997: Significant
An analysis of key events related to the question of "What powers, privileges,
duties, and responsibilities does the Constitution grant to the national
government and reserve to the states and the people?". Eugene Boyd,
Congressional Research Service, 1997.
Federalism and the Constitution: Limits on
This report discusses state and federal legislative power generally, including
congressional power under Article I and the Fourteenth Amendment. Kenneth R.
Thomas, Congressional Research Service, 2001.
Reinventing American Federalism
This Department of State electronic journal examines recent changes in the
alignments and balances of responsibilities between the federal, state and
local governments from a variety of perspectives. U.S. Department of State,
Bureau of International Information Programs, 1997.
Separation of Church and State
Religion and the Founding of the American Republic
Based on objects in the collection of the Library of Congress, this online
exhibit explores the role religion played in the founding of the American
colonies, in the shaping of early American life and politics, and in forming
the American Republic.
Religion: Separating Church and State
This chapter from Portrait of the U.S.A. discusses the First Amendment
to the Constitution which guarantees freedom of religion in the United States.
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, 2003.
Transparency in Government: How American Citizens
Influence Public Policy
Discusses the importance of opening government deliberations and rule-making
processes to the public and of making government documents available to
concerned citizens. Ellen M. Katz, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of
International Information Programs, 1999.
The Right to Know
This article presents an overview of the Freedom of Information Act and the
role of the press in expanding openness in government operations. Richard A.
Bumstead, An Unfettered Press, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of
International Information Programs, rev. ed. 2001.
Information Management: Acquisition of the
Electronic Records Archives is Progressing
U.S. Government Accountability Office report on the status of the National
Archives and Records Administration's development of an electronic records
archive system. U.S. GAO, July 2005.
Rights of the People
Rights of the People: Individual Freedoms and
the Bill of Rights
A history of American law and justice governing individual liberties, focusing
on the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution, and the legal interpretations,
that refined and expanded the Bill of Rights. Melvin Urofsky, U.S. Department
of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, 2003.
We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident
From the earliest Americans, individual freedoms and liberties were highly
valued. This Chapter from "Introduction to Human Rights" written by the U.S.
Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, describes
the evolving development of these freedoms and links them to major historical
The Critical Balance: Individual Rights and National
Security in Uncertain Times
An essay on balancing civil liberties with national security requirements
necessary to prevent another terrorist attack. From "September 11 One Year
Later", U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs,
September 2002, by Mark Blitz, Fletcher Jones Professor of Political
Philosophy, Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California.
Freedom of Conscience
This article discusses the value that freedom of religion provides to a healthy
Law and Race in the United States: An Outline for
The Constitution of the United States provides the framework for all of our
laws, and is the most fundamental statement of the rules which govern our
society. This outline provides an overview of major legislation and the history
behind laws that have shaped the legal landscape of the United States and its
treatment of minorities.
A Citizen's Guide on using the Freedom of
Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 to Request Government Records
A Congressional report and citizen's guide to the Freedom of Information Act.
Libel Law in the United States
A review of the history of libel which is a legal term that describes a written
form of defamation. Steven Pressman, from An Unfettered Press, U.S. Department
of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, 2001.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA): Statutory Language and Recent Issues
The Americans with Disabilities Act gives civil rights protections to
individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the
basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees
equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations,
employment, transportation, State and local government services, and
Americans with Disabilities Act:
Questions and Answers
Provided by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S.
Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, this booklet is designed to
provide answers to some of the most often asked questions about the Americans
with Disabilities Act.
A Guide to Disability Rights Laws
Released by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, this
guide provides an overview of Federal civil rights laws that ensure equal
opportunity for people with disabilities, 2005.
Famous Presidential Speeches
The Budget Process
Government in the Age of
E-Government Act of 2002, Pub. Law 107-347
Full-text of the E-Government Act of 2002, Public Law 107-347.
A Primer on E-Government: Sectors, Stages,
Opportunities, and Challenges of Online Governance
Links to a report for Congress regarding electronic government.
Computer Attack and Cyber Terrorism:
Vulnerabilities and Policy Issues for Congress
This report provides background information for three types of attacks against
computers (cyberattack, physical attack, and electromagnetic attack), and
discusses related vulnerabilities for each type of attack. The report also
describes the possible effects of a coordinated cyberattack, or computer
network attack (CNA), against U.S. infrastructure computers, along with
possible technical capabilities of international terrorists.
The National Strategy to Secure
A national framework to encourage Americans to secure the interdependent
network of information technology infrastructures known as cyberspace.
Expanding E-Government: Improved
Service Delivery for the American People Using Information Technology
This report highlights the accomplishments of the departments and agencies and
sets forth our goals for the coming year.
Report to Congress on the
Benefits of the President's E-Government Initiatives
Provides a summary of the purpose of each E-Government Initiative followed by
individual agency reports describing the relevance of the initiatives to which
the particular agency provides funds.