When I started trying to understand how the US Government works, I've been trying to find a chart that would list all the different department, agencies, and other organizational entities that comprise the government — and show how they are related to each other. I can't believe that I'd be the only person to find such an org chart useful; indeed, this idea is echoed in a project idea listed on the Sunlight Labs wiki as OPML the Federal Government:
Project Idea: This is a quick win– just create an OPML file of the existing structure of the Federal Government agencies in all branches.
As a step to creating such a representation, I've scraped the data in
Appendix C of OMB Circular No. A-11 (Sept 2008).http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/a11/current_year/app_c.pdf.
Under the MAX system, OMB assigns agency and bureau codes that are used to identify and access data in the budget database. The following table lists these codes in budget order. It also provides the corresponding agency codes assigned by Treasury. In certain instances, a different Treasury agency code may be used for some accounts in an agency; a complete listing can be found in the Budget Accounts Title (BAT) file.
I've uploaded this PDF to scribd to make it easier for readers to see the data the pdf has:
OMB Circular a 11 Appendix c
I read this PDF into Adobe Acrobat 8, saved it as "XML 1.0", messaged the XML a bit by hand to make it easier to apply some XQuery to create a starter OPML 1.0 file, and then did some more manual editing to represent the data in the correct hierarchy to produce:
My working assumption is that OMB Agency/Bureau codes + Treasury Agency Codes provide the key to unlocking a significant part of the higher levels of the US Federal Government. More on this assumption later.
You can see this OPML rendered by optimalbrowser.com as such:
Some Possible Next Steps:
- I think the OPML is correct — but I need to do a closer look through the OPML to make sure I didn't make any errors.
- It'd be a good long-term good to get this org chart data in nice machine-readable from from the federal government in the first place. Might it come from the GSA as Clay Johnson wondered on the Sunlight Labs list?
- Barring getting the data directly from the Feds in a nice form, we can look at scraping the data from sources such as http://www.usa.gov/Agencies/federal.shtml . My colleagues Eric Kansa and Erik Wilde did do a scrape of A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies (A): USA.gov into http://isd.ischool.berkeley.edu/stimulus/agencies/agencies.xml. I'd like to reconcile my OPML file with this list of agencies so that we can tie OMB/treasury codes with the URLs of websites.
- Instead of scraping Appendix C of OMB Circular A-11, one might dive directly into the spreadsheets from the Federal budget database