How many federal agencies do we pay for? I bet you think, as I once did, that a quick internet search would tell. But researching for an essay a couple of years ago, I found numbers varying from 78 to 158, and websites saying the exact number was impossible to determine.
Looking at the USA.gov website recently, I discovered a tab for Federal Agencies A to Z (actually there are none past W). Scrolling around the list for two days, subtracting duplicate listings, like Useless Policy, Office of and Office of Useless Policy, I counted 456 (and a few more as I checked some links while drafting this essay).
The large number of agencies was my first, but not my only surprise. Each agency’s listing had a field for government branch, mostly filled with Executive, some Legislative, some Judicial. But sometimes that field contained: Independent, Quasi, or None. How can we have parts of government that are not part of a branch of our government?
It amused me that some agency names made it easy to guess when they were created. Delinquency was a focus in the 1930s; nuclear threats, 1950s; civil rights, 1960s; cyberterrorism, after 2001.
This just started with to know how many federal agencies we have. But discovering there are agencies decades past their freshness date, begs to be explored. This essay is a just cursory view.