Transparency Project

US Federal Agencies

Central Intelligence Agency

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an independent civilian agency that provides national security intelligence. It is tasked with collecting, analyzing, evaluating, and disseminating foreign intelligence to assist the government and senior US policymakers in decision making around national security. The CIA was created by the National Security Act of 1947, signed by President Harry Truman.

Criminal Division

The Criminal Division of the Department of Justice is tasked with developing, enforcing, and supervising the application of all federal criminal laws except those specifically assigned to other divisions. It also works on sensitive areas of law enforcement such as electronic surveillance.

Customs and Border Protection
Formed as part of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is tasked with regulating international trade and enforcing U.S. regulations on trade, customs, and immigration. In addition to employing nearly 60,000 workers, CBP is the federal agency that employs the largest number of working dogs, assigned to ports and border patrol stations, as well as operating a fleet of MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drones.
Department of Commerce

First created in 1903, the Department of Commerce (previously the Department of Commerce and Labor) promotes progressive business policies and global trade that is favorable to the United States. Among a range of other duties, it issues patents and trademarks (through its sub agency the United States Patent and Trademark Office), sets industrial standards and gathers economic data to inform policymakers.

Department of Defense

The Department of Defense, also known as the Pentagon after the building in which it is headquartered, is the federal agency responsible for national security and the United States armed forces. It is the largest employer in the world, claiming more than 3 million workers; the Pentagon, in turn, is the largest office building in the world. The Department of Defense is also the federal agency with the most budgetary resources, and regularly accounts for more than half of the United States federal discretionary budget. In 2007, EFF sued the Department of Defense for information about its use of national security letters to gather intelligence within the U.S.

Department of Energy
Formed in 1977, the Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department concerned with U.S. policy on energy and the handling of nuclear materials. Technically, all nuclear weapons deployed by the Department of Defense are on loan from the Department of Energy, which is responsible for the design, testing and production of nuclear weapons.
Department of Homeland Security

Created in response to the September 11 attacks, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a broad federal agency encompassing 22 separate agencies in a single organization. The Department of Homeland Security is a civilian and domestic counterpart to the Department of Defense and is responsible for preparing for and preventing domestic emergencies, including terrorism. With more than 200,000 employees, DHS is the third-largest Cabinet department. EFF has engaged in many FOIA requests and lawsuits against the Department of Homeland Security and its various child agencies, which include the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Patrol, Immigration Customs Enforcement, and others.

Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is the federal executive department charged with law enforcement and the administration of justice. Since its creation in 1870, the Justice Department has been led by the Attorney General, an appointee of the President. The Department of Justice oversees many offices and agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency. The EFF has engaged in numerous lawsuits involving the Department of Justice, ranging from Bernstein v. Department of Justice, which addressed export restrictions on encryption programs, to a FOIA lawsuit demanding more information on the government's unconstitutional warrantless spying program.

Department of the Treasury
The Department of the Treasury was established in 1789, and prints all United States currency as well as collecting federal taxes through the IRS. It is administered by the Secretary of the Treasury, who is a member of the Cabinet. In 2003, as many federal agencies were reorganized in response to the September 11 attacks,, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, as well as the Secret Service and other departments were transferred out of the Treasury Department.
Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation is a federal cabinet department governed by the Secretary of Transportation and dedicated to transportation issues. It previously oversaw the Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard, but those two agencies were both transferred to the Department of Homeland Security in 2003. The Federal Aviation Administration was folded into the Department of Transportation when it was founded in 1967. EFF has targeted the FAA with FOIA requests and lawsuits pertaining to its granting of drone authorization certificates.

Drug Enforcement Administration

Since it was established through an Executive Order in 1973 as part of the "global war on the drug menace," the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been tasked with enforcing controlled substance laws and regulations in the United States. It also works with U.S. and international bodies to combat illicit growing, manufacture, and distribution of controlled substances.  It also recommends and supports  non-enforcement programs designed to reduce the availability of illicit controlled substances on domestic and international markets.

Environmental Protection Agency
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with protecting human health and the environment. They work to reduce environmental risks based on scientific information, and they work to ensure federal laws regarding human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively. Created in 1910, the EPA consolidated in one agency a variety of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting, and enforcement activities dealing with environmental protection.
Federal Aviation Administration

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is charged with regulating aerospace transportation in the United States, including issuing pilot certificates and operating air traffic control systems. The FAA was folded into the Department of Transportation when it was founded in 1967. EFF has targeted the FAA with FOIA requests and lawsuits pertaining to its granting of drone authorization certificates.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a division of the Department of Justice formed in 1908. The FBI investigates federal crimes and crimes on Indian reservations and is also a domestic intelligence agency. Its tasks include combatting and investigating crimes in the United States such as terrorist attacks, espionage, and a range of high tech and white-collar crimes.  In 2011, the annual budget for the FBI was $7.9 billion.

Federal Communications Commission

Established in 1934, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency that regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the second largest federal criminal investigations agency, only exceeded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The agency was formed, along with US Citizenship and Immigration Services, when the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service was dismantled in 2003. ICE is tasked with civil and criminal enforcement of immigration laws and with investigating the movement of people, drugs, weapons and goods across US borders. Additionally, it has been involved in intellectual property enforcement, including the controversial "Operation In Our Sites" domain name seizures.
National Security Agency

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS or NSA) was founded in 1954 and is headquartered in Fort Meade, Maryland. It is responsible for collecting, processing, and disseminating intelligence information from foreign electronic signals for national foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes and to support military operations. NSA/CSS is also tasked with preventing foreign adversaries from gaining access to classified national security information. News reports in December 2005 first revealed that the NSA has been intercepting Americans’ phone calls and Internet communications. In addition, EFF obtained whistleblower evidence from a former AT&T technician showing that AT&T is cooperating with the illegal surveillance. The undisputed documents show that AT&T installed a fiberoptic splitter at its facility at 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco that makes copies of all emails web browsing and other Internet traffic to and from AT&T customers and provides those copies to the NSA. This copying likely includes both domestic and international Internet activities of AT&T customers. In response, EFF launched two lawsuits - one against the government for illegal spying, which is still active, and another against the AT&T for assisting in that spying, which was dismissed after Congress gave retroactive immunity to the telecom providers. In 2013, after leaked government documents published in the Guardian and Washington Post, EFF filed a third suit, Unitarian Church v. NSA, which challenges the constitutionality of the NSA's mass domestic phone records collection program.

National Security Division

The National Security Division (NSD) was created in March 2006 by the USA PATRIOT Reauthorization and Improvement Act. Part of the Department of Justice, this agency is tasked with combatting terrorism and other threats to national security. It is designed to consolidate the Justice Department's primary national security operations. 

Office of Legal Counsel

The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) was established in 1934 and is a division of the Department of Justice. The OLC assists the Attorney General in providing legal advice to the President and the rest of the executive branch agencies. All of the President's executive orders and proclamations are reviewed by the OLC. It reviews the constitutionality of all pending legislation. 

Office of the Attorney General

Created in 1789, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) heads the Department of Justice and serves as chief law enforcement officer of the Federal Government. The Attorney General is nominated by the President and is confirmed by the Senate. The AG represents the United States in legal matters and advises the President and the heads of the executive departments.

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Since its establishment in 2004, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has assisted the President's appointed Director of National Intelligence. EFF filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice and the ODNI for information about the lobbying efforts of telecommunication carriers and the Executive branch’s support for the passage of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which granted retroactive immunity to the telecommunication companies that assisted the government in the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program.

Office of the United States Trade Representative
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is a federal agency established in 1962 to advise the President on U.S. trade policy and to negotiate foreign trade agreements. Since 1989, the USTR has produced an annual "Special 301 Report" that indicates countries without "adequate and effective" intellectual property laws, which USTR therefore considers to be barriers to trade. The USTR is also responsible for the secret negotiations behind agreements such as ACTA and the TPP. EFF has FOIA requests to pursue more information about those agreements during the negotiations.
Science and Technology Directorate
The Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) manages science and technology research for the Department of Homeland Security and first responders. It has six different primary divisions: the Explosives Division; the Chemical and Biological Division; the Command, Control, and Interoperability Division (whose responsibilities include securing critical infrastructure and coordinating efforts to improve existing cyber infrastructure); the Human Factors Division (focused on using behavioral sciences for detecting, analyzing and understanding homeland security threats); and the Infrastructure and Geophysical Division.
State Department
The United States Department of State was founded in 1789, making it the first executive department established. It is led by the Secretary of State, who is nominated by the President as a member of the Cabinet. Because of its responsibility for managing international relations, the State Department (and the bureaus of which it is comprised) are important sources of information on U.S. foreign policy.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was established in 2003 to take on the administrative functions of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service after that agency was dismantled. It performs administrative functions specific to immigration, naturalization, and asylum such as processing citizenship, work visa, and benefit applications. USCIS also administers the e-Verify program that was set up to allow employers to verify the citizenship status of job applicants. This program has been controversial because its giant database has been plagued with inaccuracies.
United States Marshal Service

The nation's oldest law enforcement agency, the U.S. Marshal Service (USMS) serves as the enforcement arm of the federal courts and is responsible for protecting the federal judicial process. The agency provides security for judicial proceedings, federal judges, U.S. attorneys, assistant U.S. attorneys, personnel, jurors, the visiting public and prisoners. It is also the federal government's primary agency for fugitive investigations. This agency was created by Judiciary Act of 1789 and is part of the Department of Justice.

Search Documents

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

A report by @caparsons on how unaccountable telecom practices and policies threaten Canadians: https://eff.org/r.bth6

May 27 @ 4:16pm

Heard of TPP or TTIP? TISA is another trade agreement making rules for the Internet, just as secretive but bigger: https://eff.org/r.95nc

May 27 @ 3:59pm

In San Francisco? Join EFF Saturday for a panel on art & surveillance as part of the SF International Arts Festival. https://eff.org/r.sicm

May 27 @ 3:55pm
JavaScript license information