Government Agencies and Philanthropic Organizations

Grades: 
9, 10, 11, 12

Students will analyze how the executive branch enforces laws through its departments and executive agencies. They will also investigate how public interest groups serve as watchdogs on government, protecting and advancing the rights of citizens. In many cases nonprofit organizations work with executive departments and agencies to carry out their work.

Duration 
PrintFive Fifty-Minute Class Periods
Objectives 

The learners will:

  • classify the work of the executive branch into its related government departments.
  • justify historically the existence of nonprofit public interest groups.
  • research government agencies, programs and services and nonprofit organizations with related interests.
Materials 
  • Pertinent Government Documents (see Attachment One)
  • The Work of Government and Nonprofit Agencies Worksheet (see Attachment Two)
  • The Work of Government and Nonprofit Agencies Worksheet - Sample Answers (see Attachment Three)

Instructions

Print
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Quickly call out the following acronyms and ask students to identify them by responding with their appropriate names:

  2. USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)

    • HUD (Housing and Urban Development)
    • IRS (Internal Revenue Service)
    • CDC (Centers for Disease Control)
    • FDA (Food and Drug Administration)
    • DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency)
    • FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
    • INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service)
    • OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
    • USGS (United States Geological Survey)
    • FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)
    • NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
    • ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms)
    • VA (Department of Veterans Affairs)
    • Ginnie Mae (U.S. Government National Mortgage Association)
    • Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association)
    • Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation)
    • Explain that the activity which was just completed points out the proliferation of government departments and agencies in the executive branch, all under the control of the President. These are just a "drop in the bucket" of agencies necessary to help the President "enforce laws." Using Pertinent Government Documents (see Attachment One) or any copy of The Constitution of the United States, review Article II, Section 2, Clauses 1 and 2 (II,2,1-2) and Article II, Section 3 (II,3) to review the powers and duties of the President as constitutionally described. Explain that the section of the Constitution which spelled out the "enforcement" responsibilities of the Chief Executive was very short. Because of this, there has been a historic argument over "strict constructionism" (the idea that the President has no powers not specifically described in the Constitution) versus "loose constructionism" (the idea that the President has more powers to "enforce the law" than those specifically stated in the Constitution).
    • To understand how the President carries out his responsibilities to enforce the law, ask students to quickly jot down on a piece of paper the names of the executive departments which come under the auspices of the President. To help students understand what these are, explain that the heads of the departments usually have the title of "Secretary" and together they comprise the President's cabinet. (Note: The current departments include: Agriculture; Commerce; Defense; Education; Energy; Health and Human Services; Housing and Urban Development; Justice; Labor; State; Interior; Transportation; Treasury; and Veterans Affairs. The heads of these departments are called "Secretary," except the head of the Justice Department who is called the Attorney General.) (Optional: You may also ask students to name the current persons holding these positions.)
    • Divide the class into fourteen groups. Allow each group to select one government department to research. Ask groups to research their department online. As a group, the team should design a poster which identifies the work of the department.
    • Explain that within each department are a number of agencies, services and programs that carry out its work. As an example, the Department of Defense includes the following agencies, plus many others:
      • Ballistic Missile Defense Organization
      • Civilian Personnel Management Service
      • Defense Commissary Agency
      • Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Office
      • Defense Threat Reduction Agency
      • National Imagery and Mapping Agency
      • National Security Agency
    • Each member of the fourteen groups should select two agencies within their department for further study. (Note: These agencies may be located online under United States Government —Executive Branch—Departments and Agencies.) Distribute The Work of Government and Nonprofit Agencies Worksheet (see Attachment Two) to each student. Have students complete the first three steps in filling in the chart. Once this is completed, each student will have researched two agencies, programs or services in a federal department.
    • Before completing the rest of the worksheet, refer again to Pertinent Government Documents (see Attachment One) and read the passage from The Declaration of Independence to the class. Ask students to mentally imagine what the persons who signed this document were like. By their words, do they seem like the type of persons who would readily stand back and let the government take complete control of their lives and the lives of their families? If they saw the complete listing of executive branch departments, agencies, programs and services, would they be more concerned or less concerned about the power of government over their lives? Discuss. Point out that the next task will identify some groups with special interests that act as watchdogs on government programs and some groups which try to influence public policy. Ask students to define special interest groups or pressure groups or lobbies, generalize about their purposes, and evaluate their value in society.
    • Returning to The Work of Government and Nonprofit Agencies Worksheet (see Attachment Two), students should fill in columns three and four by researching a non-governmental, nonprofit organization whose interests fit the government agencies they have identified in columns one and two. Ask students to use http://www.Guidestar.org as the source of their searches. When completed, all members of the team should attach their information sheets to the bottom of the departmental poster they completed to give others a clearer idea of the work of the department. Display the posters. Note to Teacher: Check The Work of Government and Nonprofit Agencies WorksheetSample Answers (see Attachment Three) for some of the possible answers.
    • Divide the class into seven groups. Each person in the group should have researched a different cabinet department from the others in the new group. Put the following statement on the board: "Why are there 640,000 organizations (as shown in the GuideStar database) that do work similar to what the government is already doing? They aren't needed at all." Allow groups to discuss the statement and agree or disagree with it. After fifteen minutes, return to a whole group and discuss the statement. If the following topics are not discussed, add them to the discussion:
      • Does the existence of a large government bureaucracy mean that the federal government is doing a good job serving the purposes for which it was created?
      • Are there various diverse groups whose interests or needs are protected by the presence of nonprofit special interest groups? Why not just let the government look out for minority and other diverse groups?
      • As a nation, are we better off with or without the 640,000 groups?
  3. /blockquote>

  4. Explain that the activity which was just completed points out the proliferation of government departments and agencies in the executive branch, all under the control of the President. These are just a "drop in the bucket" of agencies necessary to help the President "enforce laws." Using Pertinent Government Documents (see Attachment One) or any copy of The Constitution of the United States, review Article II, Section 2, Clauses 1 and 2 (II,2,1-2) and Article II, Section 3 (II,3) to review the powers and duties of the President as constitutionally described. Explain that the section of the Constitution which spelled out the "enforcement" responsibilities of the Chief Executive was very short. Because of this, there has been a historic argument over "strict constructionism" (the idea that the President has no powers not specifically described in the Constitution) versus "loose constructionism" (the idea that the President has more powers to "enforce the law" than those specifically stated in the Constitution).

    • To understand how the President carries out his responsibilities to enforce the law, ask students to quickly jot down on a piece of paper the names of the executive departments which come under the auspices of the President. To help students understand what these are, explain that the heads of the departments usually have the title of "Secretary" and together they comprise the President's cabinet. (Note: The current departments include: Agriculture; Commerce; Defense; Education; Energy; Health and Human Services; Housing and Urban Development; Justice; Labor; State; Interior; Transportation; Treasury; and Veterans Affairs. The heads of these departments are called "Secretary," except the head of the Justice Department who is called the Attorney General.) (Optional: You may also ask students to name the current persons holding these positions.)
    • Divide the class into fourteen groups. Allow each group to select one government department to research. Ask groups to research their department online. As a group, the team should design a poster which identifies the work of the department.
    • Explain that within each department are a number of agencies, services and programs that carry out its work. As an example, the Department of Defense includes the following agencies, plus many others:
      • Ballistic Missile Defense Organization
      • Civilian Personnel Management Service
      • Defense Commissary Agency
      • Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Office
      • Defense Threat Reduction Agency
      • National Imagery and Mapping Agency
      • National Security Agency
    • Each member of the fourteen groups should select two agencies within their department for further study. (Note: These agencies may be located online under United States Government —Executive Branch—Departments and Agencies.) Distribute The Work of Government and Nonprofit Agencies Worksheet (see Attachment Two) to each student. Have students complete the first three steps in filling in the chart. Once this is completed, each student will have researched two agencies, programs or services in a federal department.
    • Before completing the rest of the worksheet, refer again to Pertinent Government Documents (see Attachment One) and read the passage from The Declaration of Independence to the class. Ask students to mentally imagine what the persons who signed this document were like. By their words, do they seem like the type of persons who would readily stand back and let the government take complete control of their lives and the lives of their families? If they saw the complete listing of executive branch departments, agencies, programs and services, would they be more concerned or less concerned about the power of government over their lives? Discuss. Point out that the next task will identify some groups with special interests that act as watchdogs on government programs and some groups which try to influence public policy. Ask students to define special interest groups or pressure groups or lobbies, generalize about their purposes, and evaluate their value in society.
    • Returning to The Work of Government and Nonprofit Agencies Worksheet (see Attachment Two), students should fill in columns three and four by researching a non-governmental, nonprofit organization whose interests fit the government agencies they have identified in columns one and two. Ask students to use http://www.Guidestar.org as the source of their searches. When completed, all members of the team should attach their information sheets to the bottom of the departmental poster they completed to give others a clearer idea of the work of the department. Display the posters. Note to Teacher: Check The Work of Government and Nonprofit Agencies WorksheetSample Answers (see Attachment Three) for some of the possible answers.
    • Divide the class into seven groups. Each person in the group should have researched a different cabinet department from the others in the new group. Put the following statement on the board: "Why are there 640,000 organizations (as shown in the GuideStar database) that do work similar to what the government is already doing? They aren't needed at all." Allow groups to discuss the statement and agree or disagree with it. After fifteen minutes, return to a whole group and discuss the statement. If the following topics are not discussed, add them to the discussion:
      • Does the existence of a large government bureaucracy mean that the federal government is doing a good job serving the purposes for which it was created?
      • Are there various diverse groups whose interests or needs are protected by the presence of nonprofit special interest groups? Why not just let the government look out for minority and other diverse groups?
      • As a nation, are we better off with or without the 640,000 groups?
Assessment 

The completed poster with attached worksheets may serve as an assessment.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.11 Discuss why organizations in the civil society sector work to protect minority voices.
      2. Benchmark HS.12 Explain why private action is important to the protection of minority voices.
      3. Benchmark HS.5 Identify and discuss civil society sector organizations working to build community/social capital and civil society resources.