The federal government is a massive organization that has 3 million employes and a payroll of more than $80 billion a year.
Federal employes aren't just bureaucrats and clerks: they're hairdressers, computer experts, broadcasters, code-breakers, astronauts and weather forecasters.
Although increasingly white collar, the government employs some honest-to-gosh cowboys and a few people who still deliver mail by horseback in West Virginia and dog sled in Alaska.
To most people, particularly those outside a government town like Washington, the federal government is personified by a high official on a television screen or the person who sells them stamps in a post office.
But the real people of government are somewhere in between the clerk and the cabinet officer.
Here is what the records show:
*The average civil servant is a 41-year old white male without a college degree who earns about $26,000 after 13 years on the job, according to government personnel data.
There is a good chance that he has a white-collar job and that he lives in California, Texas, New York or the Washington area.
*Of federal workers outside the Postal Service, 30 percent have bachelor's or higher degrees.
*More than half -- 59 percent -- are men, while 41 percent are women.
*A little over a fourth are members of minority groups: 16 percent are black, 4.9 percent Hispanic, 3 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1.6 percent are Native Americans.
*More than a third are military veterans, and 7 percent are listed as handicapped.
*The average annual salary for all employes is $26,755, and the average white-collar federal worker in the Washington area earns $31,187 a year.
*More than 70 percent of the work force is classified under the GS (general schedule) or white-collar salary system; 20 percent are under the wage board (blue-collar) pay system, and the rest are under other federal pay systems.
*About eight of every 10 federal workers are considered white-collar employes, with 18 percent in professional jobs, 22 percent in administrative, 17 percent technical, 20 percent clerical, and 3 percent in other fields.
*Full-time employes hold 93 percent of all federal jobs.
More than 81 percent are in the competitive civil service, with 18 percent in either political or policy jobs or positions that are exempted from the civil service. Only 0.3 percent are in the Senior Executive Service.
*Fifty percent of all federal civilian workers are employed by the Defense Department, Army, Navy or Air Force, and 12 percent work for the Veterans Administration.
*About 96 percent of the federal work force is based in the United States, and 14 percent is in the Washington area.
*Executive branch employment, as of September 1985, totaled 2.2 million. The U.S. Postal Service had 750,021 employes, the legislative branch (including congressional employes) had 38,764 employes and the judicial branch had 18,255.
*The federal civilian payroll, not including fringe benefits, totaled $80.5 billion during fiscal 1985.