General Government, NEC

SIC 9199

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This group covers government establishments primarily engaged in providing general support for government, which include personnel, auditing, procurement services, and building management services, and other general government establishments, which cannot be classified in other industries. Public finance is classified in SIC 9311: Public Finance, Taxation, and Monetary Policy.

The general government not elsewhere classified (NEC) division includes several offices and agencies associated with civil rights, civil service, accounting, personnel, purchasing, and supply. Three of the largest of these offices, all at the federal level, are the General Accountability Office (GAO), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the General Services Administration (GSA).

The GAO is the investigation arm of Congress. Established in 1921 by the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, it examines matters relating to the receipt and disbursement of public money. On July 7, 2004, the GAO's legal name changed from the General Accounting Office to the Government Accountability Office. The change better reflects the professional services organization it has become. The GAO supports Congress primarily by auditing and evaluating government programs and activities, usually at the request of house committees and members. It is an independent and nonpartisan organization. The GAO is charged with finding inefficiency, waste, fraud, and illegality in government programs and bringing them to the attention of Congress. It also develops and prescribes accounting and fiscal policies, and provides legal counsel and services to Congress related to money and expenditures. The 2008 budget for the GAO was $507.2 million, with 3,150 employees in 12 regional offices. According to the GAO, the agency returns $114 for every $1 invested in the organization through its efforts to reduce waste and fraud.

The OPM administers recruiting, examining, training, and promotion programs for federal workers. Its mission is to ensure the federal government has an effective civilian workforce. The OPM also provides benefits to retired employees and their survivors. Established by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, the OPM inherited many of the responsibilities of the old Civil Service Commission. It is comprised of a director who oversees several offices, an advisory committee, 12 functional groups (e.g., retirement and career entry), and 16 field offices and 4 operating centers. As of 2008, the OPM employed approximately 5,000 federal workers. OPM's estimated 2009 budget to address all its service areas was $72 billion.

The GSA establishes policy for and provides economical and efficient management of government property and records. It oversees the construction and operation of buildings; purchasing and distribution of services and supplies; disposal and use of property; management of general transportation, traffic, and communications; and management of automatic data processing resources. Established in 1949, this massive federal bureaucracy now supports 17 separate Washington, D.C., units and programs, as well as 11 regional offices with nearly 11,800 workers. The administrator of the GSA is supported by a deputy and chief of staff. Offices under the GSA umbrella include the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), the Public Buildings Service (PBS), and other staff offices including the Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP). In 2008, GSA managed 8,600 buildings and 208,000 vehicles that were owned or leased by the federal government. These assets under GSA's management were valued at over $500 billion. The fiscal 2008 budget for the GSA was $26.3 billion. GSA generates more than 98 percent of its own revenues through the services it provides. Appropriations from Congress account for less than 2 percent of GSA's budget.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a smaller federal entity, collects and studies information on discrimination or denials of equal protection of the laws because of immutable physical characteristics, religion, or national origin. It was created in 1957 under the Civil Rights Act, and consists of 16 different offices, divisions, and units.

In addition to the GAO, OPM, GSA, and a few other separate entities, there are numerous branches and divisions of large federal offices that conduct activities similar to the major offices. Likewise, numerous and varied counterpart offices and agencies operate in state and local governments. Although general government NEC offices account for a significant portion of overall government employment, prospects for job growth are slim given public pressure to eliminate new government spending.

According to industry statistics, in 2009, miscellaneous general government consisted of 8,620 establishments, which employed 326,874 people. As expected, the states with the highest populations also had the highest employment numbers in this industry: California (95,935), New York (24,645), and Ohio (20,277). The 10 largest agencies employed more than 2,500 employees, but the average number of all firms was 48 employees.

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