Public Order and Safety, NEC

SIC 9229

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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.

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 260,200 compliance officers (except agriculture, construction, health and safety, and transportation) employed in 2008, in addition to 55,800 occupational health and safety specialists. About 41 percent of the latter worked for the government, and the average annual salary was $62,250. The job outlook for both occupations was positive, with employment in the occupational health and safety sector predicted to grow 11 percent by 2018.

Safety offices exist in a number of major U.S. federal government departments. The Food Safety and Inspection Service, for example, is part of the Department of Agriculture. 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 U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, a branch of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), conducts research and develops standards for foods, including additives and colors, as well as dietary supplements.

In addition to food surety, several safety offices are operated within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The Maritime Safety and Security Team, 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 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 included 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 citizenship services, by dedicating offices to these important missions."

The DHS consists of several different major divisions, including National Protection and Programs, Science and Technology, Public Affairs, Legislative Affairs, and Management, along with the Inspector General, Policy, and Management. These divisions encompass a variety of agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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 2000s for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Gulf Oil spill, and flooding in the Midwest.

In the early 2000s, FEMA played an instrumental role in responding to the September 11 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, 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.

In the mid-2000s FEMA distributed more than $7 billion in assistance to survivors of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, two of the most costly and deadly storms experienced in the South in decades. Later the organization discovered that about $643 million of this money had been improperly administered to 160,000 applicants who had requested housing assistance after the storms. As of January 2011, FEMA had still not recouped its losses and was developing new rules in order to avoid another such incident in the future, a mistake that was caused by "inadequate internal controls, human error, mistakes and fraud," according to CQ Homeland Security.

In the early 2010s, federal safety organizations were making use of new technology to better protect the American public. For example, in 2011 FEMA was experimenting with sending earthquake warning messages via cell phones that could sense vibrations, and trapped victims had the ability to Twitter their location for a quicker rescue.

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