Getting to Know the Federal Government

The federal government is the nation's largest employer with almost 2.2 million employees. (Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post)
Question 1 of 9

1. The federal government grew while Republican President Richard M. Nixon was in office.

Not quite.

Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and the Congressional Budget Office in July 1974. The CBO was created in the wake of the Watergate scandal after members of Congress objected to Nixon’s threats to withhold money for programs that were inconsistent with his policies during his presidency. Watergate also inspired the creation of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in the late 1970s to investigate disclosures from federal employees of wrongdoing by high-ranking officials.

Question 2 of 9

2. The Coast Guard, one of the oldest organizations of the federal government, was established in 1790 to manage the nation’s lighthouse keepers.

Not quite.

From 1789 to 1939, lighthouses were mostly managed by the Treasury Department. (For one brief period during that span, they were under the Commerce Department.) President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the transfer of lighthouse services to the Coast Guard in 1939.

Question 3 of 9

3. When a supply of grain didn’t arrive at Foster Poultry Farms in California last year, the company petitioned the Agriculture Department for emergency services to help it feed its starving chickens and cattle.

Not quite.

It was the five-member Surface Transportation Board that the farm called on for help, and the board issued an emergency order for Union Pacific Railroad to prioritize the shipments of the feed.

Question 4 of 9

4. For better understanding of hypersonic weapons, the U.S. Air Force has a detailed explanation and visuals about the physics of flying at Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.

Not quite.

It was the Government Accountability Office, which established a science and technology initiative with detailed summaries and videos about everything from CRISPR gene technology to the 5G network to hypersonic weapons.

Question 5 of 9

5. The first digital camera was invented by NASA.

Not quite.

Eastman Kodak built the first digital camera in 1975. However, Eugene Lally at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab did help develop the concept of a digital camera during the 1960s when he described using mosaic photosensors to digitize light signals and produce images.

Question 6 of 9

6. Managing D.C.’s jail and water systems were part of the Interior Department’s wide-ranging responsibilities when it was established.

Not quite.

The Interior Department was established in 1849 to take care of everything that did not fall under the purview of the Treasury, War or State departments. This also included regulation of territorial governments, and management of hospitals, universities and public parks.

Question 7 of 9

7. When flooding in Kentucky last year damaged Appalshop, an Appalachian culture and arts center, the National Endowment for the Humanities organized emergency funding to help salvage, clean and digitize the center’s film archives.

Not quite.

The NEH issues grants to help cultural institutions secure and recover collections of film, audio and prints damaged by natural disasters.

Question 8 of 9

8. President Thomas Jefferson signed the bill for the nation’s first highway to be built between D.C. and Philadelphia.

Not quite.

The National Road, now called Route 40, extended from Cumberland, Md., to the Ohio River. George Washington and Jefferson thought a route, made of rocks and gravel, to the West was essential.

Question 9 of 9

9. The Environmental Protection Agency discovered a low-oxygen “dead zone” the size of Rhode Island in the ocean off the Pacific coast.

Not quite.

Scientists funded by the National Science Foundation were the ones who discovered the dead zone. They employed underwater robotic gliders to find a link between warming surface temperatures and dead zones at great depths.