Initials of government agencies have reflected a way of life in this capital of federal bureaucracy, especially since the days of FDR -- and we are not talking about the Federal Depository of Records.
One had to live through that era to appreciate the jokes about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "alphabet agencies": NRA, WPA, PWA, TVA, AAA, CCC, NLRB, etc.
Now we've reached the point at which there are at least three government agencies with the initials FHA. But never underestimate the ability of the bureaucracy to act bureaucratically to confusingly deconfuse such a situation.
In governmentese, the FHA is the Federal Housing Administration. The FmHA is the Farmers Home Administration. The FHWA is the Federal Highway Administration. (Why the Agriculture Department and the Transportation Department don't get together on capitalization and make both of them the FmHA and the FHwA, or alternatively the FMHA and the FHWA, is an unexplained question.)
NRA, in contemporary terms, is the private National Rifle Association, but it's hard to dismiss the initials that stood for FDR's National Recovery Administration, with its ubiquitous blue eagle posters and the slogan, "We Do Our Part!"
And to Washingtonians of the 1930s, ADA didn't stand for Americans for Democratic Action, the liberal political organization. It was the Alley Dwelling Authority.
Moreover, news writers occasionally slip and refer to the GSA as the Government (rather than General) Services Administration, the GAO as the Government (rather than General) Accounting Office or to the GPO as the General (rather than Government) Printing Office.
At least one local organization finally terminated its own contribution to the confusion. GSI, the acronym for the government cafeteria franchisee that was long called Government Services Inc., but often was misdescribed (because the similarity of its initials to those of GSA) as General Services Inc., has now changed its name to Guest Services Inc. No Good Samaritans
Several days back, we reported an incident in which a man was mugged and injured one afternoon near the downtown Greyhound bus station and called a cab to catch his Maryland commuter train. He got treatment at home.
When that appeared, another man called us to say the account was almost a word-for-word description of his own earlier misfortune at the hands of young thugs.
The second man, a retired university administrator, said it happened in Franklin Park, a block from the episode we described. Several witnesses couldn't have missed seeing him slugged and robbed, he said, but none intervened. The victim, like the man described earlier, hailed a cab, went home and had his wife drive him to Sibley Hospital for treatment.