A Plum Book of Political Positions

December 5, 2016

21-660_SEN-GOVTAFF_cover.inddWith the change of a new administration, learn about Presidential appointed and other positions within the Federal Government in the new 2016 United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions, or the “Plum Book” now available from the U.S. Government Bookstore.

What is the Plum Book? Known officially as the “United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions,” the Plum Book is published alternately by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs or by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who handled this year’s version. The 2016 edition lists over 9,000 civil service leadership and support positions (filled and vacant) in the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointments.

History of the “Plum Book”

The Plum Book was first published in 1952, when the Dwight D. Eisenhower Administration was voted into office after 20 years of Democratic administrations– first under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and then under President Harry S. Truman. Truman-Eisenhower-Transition

Image: Out-going President Truman meets with incoming President Eisenhower to discuss the transition. (Is that a draft copy of the first Plum Book that Truman is handing to Eisenhower? 😉

With a touch of humor, someone at the original publishers decided the book should have a purple or plum-colored cover to reflect that it contained the “plum” political appointee jobs, and the tradition has stuck ever since for the printed version.

What Type of Positions are Listed in the Plum Book?

The United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions 2016 (Plum Book) includes both politically appointed and Career Civil Service positions, agency heads and their immediate subordinates, policy executives and advisers, and the aides who report to these political appointee officials.  These encompass:

  • Executive Schedule and salary-equivalent positions paid at the rates established for Levels I through V of the Executive Schedule.
  • Senior Executive Service “General” positions (i.e., those positions which may be filled by a career, non-career, or limited appointment)
  • Senior Foreign Service positions
  • Schedule C positions excepted from the competitive service by the President, or by the Director, Office of Personnel Management, because of the confidential or policy-determining nature of the position duties
  • Other confidential or policy-determining positions at the GS-14 and above level excepted from the competitive civil service by law because of the confidential or policy-determining nature of the position duties

The duties of such positions may involve advocacy of Administration policies and programs, and the incumbents usually have a close and confidential working relationship with the agency head or other key officials.

To Fill or Not to Fill , that is the Question

Interestingly, the book lists ALL such political appointment positions, whether there is someone currently in the job or it was vacant as of June 30, 2016.  If the job was occupied by a career Federal employee appointee, the phrase “Career Incumbent” is shown without a name; otherwise, the name of the political appointee is listed.

And positions such as boards, committees or commissions that require “member” positions by political party affiliation are listed with the name of the incumbent along with a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican or (I) for Independent.

Type of Appointment and Salaries

Listings are labeled with letter codes that denote the type of appointment under which the position is categorized:

Appointment Code What It Stands For
CA Career Appointment
EA Limited Emergency Appointment
NA Non-career Appointment
PA Presidential Appointment without Senate Confirmation
PAS Presidential Appointment with Senate Confirmation
SC Schedule C Excepted Appointment
TA Limited Term Appointment
XS Appointment Excepted by Statute

However, several categories of jobs can be filled by more than one type of appointment, e.g., SES positions listed in this publication may be filled by using career Federal employees or various outside appointments. On these, no ‘‘Type of Appointment’’ is shown for such positions when they are vacant.

Plum-Book-Political-Appointments-GSAImage: List of “noncompetitive” political appointment positions at GSA. Source: 2012 Plum Book. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

Finally, information is included on the various base salary scales for each pay plan and level or grade, along with the percent above that base for different locality pay areas.

CONCLUSION

So if you are still hunting for that perfect holiday gift, it might be time to “pick a plum” or two—a 2016 Plum Book, that is—one to give, and one to keep for yourself!

How can I obtain a copy of United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions 2016 (Plum Book)?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

 Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Adapted by Trudy Hawkins, Senior Marketing and Promotions Specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, from an original post by Michele Bartram, former Government Book Talk Editor in support of the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).

 


Get To Know the American Presidents

February 11, 2016
President George W. Bush, center, poses with President-elect Barack Obama, and former presidents, from left, George H.W. Bush, left, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, right, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President’s Club (Credit AP photo from VOA website)

President’s Day is a Federal holiday honoring our presidents.  Special attention often is paid to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Let’s use this perennial day to talk about a few modern day caretakers of the Oval Office. So, turn down the volume on those shouting President’s Day TV commercials and get to know the 20th century U.S. presidents in a new way. Here are two publications available through GPO to start.

Getting to Know the President, Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2004

041-015-00279-1The Central Intelligence Agency’s Center for the Study of Intelligence surveys the mechanics of intelligence sharing during presidential transitions. Since the mid-century, it’s been common White House practice for the Director of Central Intelligence to offer the incumbent President an intelligence briefing every morning. From that coffee klatch, the President issues orders. This daily ritual originated with Harry Truman, whose inexperience with intelligence matters moved him to mandate intelligence briefings for all presidential candidates going forward.

The content of the hush-hush President’s Daily Brief is, quite literally, the stuff of spy novels. But what this book really focuses on is the relationship between the intelligence service and each president-elect. How each commander-in-chief-in-waiting bones up on international developments influences where that knowledge is eventually positioned in national security decision making. Getting to Know the President is a dossier on the intelligence intelligentsia like no other.

Strategic Retrenchment and Renewal in the American Experience

008-000-01115-0In this U.S Army War College Strategic Studies Institute publication, five essayists confront a debate at the heart of America’s political polarization: international renewal vs. retrenchment. In other words, what is the best foreign policy approach during tough economic times? Expand long-standing diplomacy or minimize presence abroad to focus on homeland matters? In every presidency, dueling pressures of domestic unrest and international statecraft create a trade-off dilemma.

The authors capably analyze this debate over the course of the Hoover, Nixon, and Reagan presidencies. There’s a lot of context to take note of: historical, political, economic, philosophical. Each president made strategic policy choices in light of unique controversies and commitments. And each concocted their own brew of renewal and retrenchment.  To this day, a President has yet to successfully balance out this cycle somewhere in the middle.

Hungry for more presidential knowledge? Check out these resources available on govinfo.gov and the GPO Bookstore:

Moments in History: A Tribute to President Ford

Public Papers of the Presidents

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE RESOURCES?

You can click on the links above in the blog or through any of these methods:

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Chelsea Milko, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations Office.


The Life & Death of JFK—A GPO Collection

November 19, 2015

“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.“ –President John F. Kennedy

35_john_f_kennedy[1]

John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States (1961-1963), the youngest man elected to the office. (Image source: whitehouse.gov)

Just as JFK’s purposeful idealism moved and shaped our nation, his November 22nd, 1963 assassination was a defining moment in American history.

Amid the aftershock of that dreadful day, President Lyndon B. Johnson directed an independent commission to investigate Kennedy’s death. In 1964, GPO employees proofed, printed, and bound the official President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, commonly known as the Warren Commission Report. Fascinating stories about the heavily secure production process and overwhelming public interest are presented in these two GPO videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoKPEVN7L1s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzyJyWBqd9E

JFK-Assassination_WARREN-COMMISSION-REPORTIn 2013, nearly 50 years after it was released to the public, GPO digitized the complete 889-page report and its 26 hearing volumes. The digitization effort was a very different task compared to the 235,000 report copies and nearly 5,600 sets of the hearings originally printed! The free digital edition of the Warren Commission Report is available online through GPO’s Federal Digital System.

In addition, GPO makes available a variety of Kennedy gov docs. Click over to the GPO Bookstore collection for Federal publications about the life of the slain 35th president and his momentous 1000 days in office. Works on the Cuban Missile Crisis, founding of the Peace Corps (proud RPCV here!), and NASA’s manned space program await you.

From 1960s print to modern day digital, GPO’s information products are a permanent tribute to a presidential legacy imprinted on the annals of U.S. history.

How do I obtain JFK publications?

You can find official John F. Kennedy publications by clicking here or through any of these methods:

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Chelsea Milko, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations Office.


Remembering 9/11: Tales of Heroes and Tough Lessons

September 11, 2014

9-11 Decade of Remembrance Twin Towers and Pentagon Logo designed by David McKenzie at the Government Printing OfficeIn remembrance of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Government Book Talk revisits blogger Michele Bartram’s post from September 11, 2013.

There are certain moments and events that are etched in our national consciousness. Ask any American who was alive in the 60’s where he or she was when John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King was assassinated and you will hear a stirring personal story. For our generation, it was September 11, 2001.

Image: September 11 Decade of Remembrance logo with World Trade Center Twin Towers surrounded by a figure representing the Pentagon. Created by David McKenzie with the Government Printing Office for the U.S. Government Bookstore.

I was right across from the Twin Towers twelve years ago today, getting ready to board a ferry for my daily commute from New Jersey across the Hudson River into Manhattan, when I saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center right across from me. So, too, I cried with a group of strangers as we stood on the ferry platform and watched in horror as the first tower fall, saw the dust cloud rise and felt the earth—and the world—tremble.

America and Americans have changed since that day… twelve years ago today. We have since heard stirring stories of heroes and sacrifice, and learned many grim lessons that are still affecting both policy and people today.

Many of these stories of heroism, missed opportunities, and resulting actions have been painstakingly and faithfully chronicled by a wide array of Federal agencies, ensuring the sacrifices and lessons are not forgotten.

Responding to the Tragedies

Both in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, we saw how first responders and medical personnel rushed to save lives. These excellent publications tell the stories of the heroes from that day:

  • 008-000-01049-8Pentagon 9/11 (10th Anniversary Edition) (Paperback) includes a foreword by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and provides the most comprehensive account available of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and aftermath, including unprecedented details on the impact on the Pentagon building and personnel and the scope of the rescue, recovery, and care-giving effort.
  • 008-000-01048-0Attack on the Pentagon: The Medical Response to 9/11 not only tells the personal stories from medical personnel responding to the attack on the Pentagon, but also provides insight from MEDCOM officers detailed to New York to support National Guard troops guarding ground zero’s perimeter. It also includes the Army’s involvement in the recovery of deceased attack victims at the Pentagon and the work of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in identifying human remains at Dover Air Force Base. In addition, the roles of military and civilian hospital staffs and of military environmental health and mental health specialists in taking care of attack victims and their families are also examined.

Tough Lessons

The single must-read for every American about September 11 is the official version of The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. This publication lists the findings of the National 9/11 Commission, listing all the painful errors made leading up to the terrorist attacks and outlining specific recommendations for international, national, state and local changes in policy and procedures that the panel of experts felt needed to be implemented to ensure a similar attack never happened again. This seminal publication has served to inform all subsequent policies and legislation since 9/11. It is available in print or as an eBook.

911-commission-report

Image: Launch of the 9/11 Commission Report. Courtesy: CSMonitor.com

The Senate, Select Committee on Intelligence, and House, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence examined the intelligence failures leading up to 9/11 and jointly published the results in United States Congressional Serial Set, Serial No. 14750: Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activity Before and After Terrorists Attacks of September 11, 2001 With Errata.

027-001-00097-1Additional insights into the causes of and responses to terrorism can be gleaned from Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP): A Collection of Research Ideas, Thoughts, and Perspectives, V. 1. This publication provides the findings from the post-9/11 FBI Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP) Symposium. TRAP is a leading research consortium made up of international/domestic academics and law enforcement officers, and is a working group sponsored by the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. In it, these counter-terrorism experts provide a better understanding of the causes of terrorist activity and possible government response tactics to mitigate terrorist actions.

064-000-00029-2As we watch the new World Trade Center going up in New York, we can be assured that builders are incorporating architectural and construction lessons learned from the World Trade Center Building Performance Study: Data Collection, Preliminary Observations, and Recommendations.

Policy and Legislative Response

United States Congressional Serial Set, Serial No. 14924, House Report No. 724, 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act, Pts. 1-6 outlines the specific legislative changes enacted by Congress, providing both background and justifications for them along with attribution.

A print copy of the law itself can be purchased here: Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, Public Law 110-53 along with the details of the various committee conferences contributing to it in Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1, July 25, 2007.

Defending the Homeland since 9/11

041-001-00657-5National Strategy for Homeland Security (October 2007) provides the common framework outlined by the George W. Bush Administration to guides, organize and unify the United States’ homeland security efforts.

008-000-01068-4A new publication from the Air Force Reserve called Turning Point 9.11: Air Force Reserve in the 21st Century, 2001-2011 tells the story of how the Air Force Reserve responded to 9/11 and have contributed to the security of the United States in a post-September 11 world.

050-012-00440-4In a similar vein, Rogue Wave: The U.S. Coast Guard on and After 9/11 chronicles the involvement of the U.S. Coast Guard on that fateful day and the evolving role in national and world security since.  Part of the Coast Guard 9/11 response is told in this touching video about the boatlift to evacuate people from lower Manhattan is told in a video narrated by Tom Hanks entitled: BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience.”

A touching video about the boatlift to evacuate people from lower Manhattan on 9/11 (September 11) is told in a video narrated by Tom Hanks entitled: BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience. Click on the image above or this link to view the “Boatlift” video.

The upcoming U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues, Volume 2: National Security Policy and Strategy provides a summarized look at the national security curriculum now taught to our nation’s top military and civilian leaders by the U.S. Army War College. Revised with the lessons learned from the years since 9/11, this publication includes a chapter on ”Securing America From Attack: The Defense Department’s Evolving Role After 9/11.”

How can I obtain these Federal 9/11 publications?

  • Shop Online: Print Editions of these 9/11-related publications may be ordered from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, by clicking on the links above in this blog post or shopping our Terrorism & 9/11 History collection under our US & Military History category.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Visit our Retail Store: Buy copies of these publications at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Find them in a Library: Find these publications in a federal depository library.

About the author: Adapted by Trudy Hawkins, Writer and Marketing Specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, from an original post by Michele Bartram, former Government Book Talk Editor in support of the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).


Spring forward into the garden

March 20, 2014
Baby chick hides among yellow daffodils

Image: Chick with daffodils (Source: Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy

Ah, spring: the season of rebirth, renewal, and growth. Breathe in the air full of the fresh blossoms of flowers, feel the first warm breezes, gaze at the profusion of color, and listen to the birds chirping and insects buzzing.

Most of the United States just went into daylight saving time on March 9 with instructions to “spring forward” with our clocks. On Thursday, March 20, 2014, we spring forward for real as it is the Spring or Vernal Equinox, fondly known as the official first day of spring. After a brutal winter and the first full month of spring and National Garden Month—April– just around the corner, many minds turn toward planting and gardening with their promise of getting back in touch with nature.

Play the Zone

Before you pull on the mud boots and pick up your gloves and tools, you’ll want to determine where you are in the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for the United States. The climate where you garden affects the fruits and vegetables that you can grow successfully. Local nurseries and garden centers will typically stock plants that perform well in your climate, but it’s important to know your planting zone if you are ordering seeds, bulbs, or plants from non-local establishments.

USDA-Plant-Hardiness-Zones-Map across the U.S.

Image: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map (Source: USDA)

How does your garden grow?

If you pore over seed catalogs, browse gardening Web sites, stroll the store aisles of soil, pots, and plants, and read gardening books in the dark winter months, then you probably have the gardening bug. You can also learn to recognize the real insects that you have in your garden with The Bug Book: A Garden Field Guide from the EPA. Gardeners can toil away only to find that someone else is enticed by the new plants; that’s when some choose to control pests by using chemicals. Be extra safe and learn about the effects of pest control, especially if you have children. Greenscaping (see this EPA guide) is an alternative method of dealing with those tiny invaders in your garden.

Lady bugs clustered on an oak branch

Image: Lady bugs gathering on an oak branch (Source: NPS)

Practice safe gardening

EPA's Mission: Sunwise Activity Book for sun safety ISBN  9780160917097In any outdoor activity, you want to be safe and healthy in the garden. While you are digging away and pulling weeds, you can get quite a sunburn or get dehydrated. The EPA’s Mission: Sunwise Activity Book helps educate kids on how to be safe in the sun and to use sunscreen. Check out these health and safety tips so that you can continue to enjoy the time spent outdoors.

How to Prune Trees by the U.S. Forest Service ISBN: 9780160913761How-to-Recognize-Hazardous Defects-in-Trees ISBN: 9780160913778When it comes to tackling bigger projects, read up first to learn what to look for in your own backyard, starting with those stately trees. How to Prune Trees is a best-selling quick guide to smart practices on trimming branches for optimum tree health. How to Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees is an overview of common issues with trees.

Removing a tree altogether is sometimes the only safe option; Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? is a book for children that explains how taking away an unhealthy tree can benefit the overall environment of the garden.Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down? U.S. Forest Service ISBN: 9780160916267

As always, with any larger gardening issues, you’ll want to consult a professional arborist for concerns with your trees.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

Gardening is an ideal activity for children. Not only are they out in nature and physically active, but they also learn about where healthy food comes from while observing the weather, biology, zoology, and conservation. The First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, has been teaching the message of healthy living through nutritious, locally grown food in her White House Kitchen Garden. Plants grown right outside the White House in Washington, DC, end up on the dining table of the President’s family. Whether you are building a kitchen garden, a school garden, or a community garden, Let’s Move has more information for you, including a diagram of the White House Kitchen Garden if you want to recreate it in your own backyard.

The Little Acorn - USDA children's book ISBN: 9780160817014Schools are well aware of the educational benefits of gardening; it begins as early as pre-school. (Download the free “Grow It, Try It, Like It! Preschool Fun with Fruits and Vegetables” garden-themed nutrition education kit.) Teachers can find resources and lesson plans from the EPA to incorporate gardening into their school curriculum. And if April showers are in the forecast, little ones can still learn about nature by curling up with a delightful illustrated book about The Little Acorn, which tells of the cycle of growth and change in the garden that starts with just one seed.

Watch the video below as First Lady Michelle Obama and White House chef Sam Kass tell the story of the first garden on White House grounds since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden during World War II.

First Lady and White House chef explain history of the first White House kitchen garden since WW2

Inside the White House: The Kitchen Garden” video of First Lady Michelle Obama and White House chef Sam Kass telling the story of the first garden on White House grounds since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden during World War II. This new garden was planted in the Spring of 2009 with the help of local elementary school children and has yielded a constant supply fresh produce for the First Family and White House events. Published May 10, 2012. (Source: White House Let’s Move YouTube Channel)

You can find more White House garden videos and gardening ideas for kids on the Let’s Move Gardening Guide web page.

Look for inspiration in public spaces

A Botanic Garden for the Nation: The United States Botanic Garden (ePub eBook) ISBN: 9780160869129 for out-of-print ISBN: 9780160767722Some folks are lucky enough to own a big garden plot; others grow plants in containers on a balcony or place herb pots by a sunny window. No matter how you garden, you can always look for inspiration for your gardening pursuits. There are a number of places to visit in spring to see the variety of plants. It’s especially helpful to visit places where plants are labeled so that you know what to look for at a local nursery or plant sale.

Cymbidium ‘Hearts of Gold’ orchid in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden

Image: Cymbidium ‘Hearts of Gold’ orchid in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden

In the nation’s capital, Washington, DC you can go to the United States Botanic Garden and see what’s in bloom or learn how to attract butterflies to your garden.

You can also purchase A Botanic Garden for the Nation: the United States Botanic Garden (ePub eBook), a GPO Online Bookstore perennial favorite (pun intended).

Girl's face peeking out from pink azaleas at National Arboretum in Washington, DC

Peeking out from among the azaleas at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

While in the DC area, don’t miss the United States National Arboretum. You can see every single plant contained there, search for individual plants and see exactly where they are located on this interactive map.

Find out what’s in bloom during the month of your visit. (If visiting in April, don’t miss their world-famous display of azaleas / rhododendrons which bloom sometime in April. Check their Azalea page for current bloom conditions.)

The arboretum also has full color posters to help you identify crape myrtles, shrubs, and trees.

U.S. National Arboretum Crape Myrtles Guide

Image: Guide to Lagerstroemia, commonly known as crape myrtle or crepe myrtle, from the National Arboretum. (Source: U.S. National Arboretum)

Learn about gardening by joining others

Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-Being Through Urban Landscapes ISBN: 9780160864162You can learn so much about gardening by meeting other like-minded folks. If you don’t have your own garden, you might want to join a community garden or find a local gardening group or volunteer at a gardening club. Urban soils have their own unique characteristics and benefits; find out how to grow gardens in urban soil, then enjoy the benefits that come from gardening in urban landscapes in Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-Being Through Urban Landscapes, available from GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore.

Urban gardeners at work planting new seedlings

Image: Urban gardeners at work planting new seedlings (Source: NIH)

It’s food for thought

Fruitful Legacy: A Historic Context of Orchards in the United States, with Technical Information for Registering Orchards in the National Register of Historic Places ISBN: 9780160821271The first presidents were known not only for their political endeavors, but also for their farms, gardens and orchards. If planted and maintained well, gardens and orchards can last for decades, even centuries.

Learn more about the legacy and preservation of historic orchards in the U.S. with these two publications available from GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore:

Happy gardening!

Image: Uncle Sam promoting gardening during wartimeSource: National Archives

Image: World War II USDA poster promoting Victory gardens: “Uncle Sam says GARDEN to Cut Food Costs” (Source: National Archives)

How can I get these and other Federal Government publications on Gardening?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find gardening publications from the following:

About the author: Kristina Bobe is a Senior Planning and Development Specialist for the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division. Additional content, images and editing provided by Michele Bartram, Government Book Talk Editor and Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC.


Get to the Olympics with Help from these Free U.S. Government Resources

February 21, 2014

Guest blogger and GPO Supervisory Librarian Valerie Furino writes about U.S. Government publications that can help you achieve your Olympic ambitions.

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are wrapping up, and they have been entertaining and full of surprises.  Many people watch the Olympics and dream of the magical moment of being awarded a medal (preferably gold).   However, that dreamy medal was earned through years of training and preparation.  If you want to give living the life of an Olympian a try, you’ll need to work hard.  You need to eat like an athlete – you need to train like an athlete – and you’ll actually need to GET to the Olympics – grab that suitcase!  Think you’ve got what it takes?  Let’s find out.

us-olympic-training-center-signImage: Tourists enjoying the Olympic Rings sign at the Headquarters for the U.S. Olympic Committee administration and the Olympic Training Center programs in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Get into Competition Shape

First, let’s examine eating habits.  This should be easy – athletes are known for devouring lots of calories.  This handy chart illustrates typical calories burned, depending on a person’s weight – note that the Olympic sports ice hockey, ice skating, and skiing are all included.  (If all the activities on this chart were Olympic sports, I’d be a gold medalist shoo-in for “Operate Snow Blower” after this winter!)  However, you need to eat the right kind of calories.  You’ll need fuel to power you through those salchows and Axel jumps. Nutrition.gov provides a great starting place on various nutrition topics, including meal planning, label reading, and dietary supplements.

ChooseMyPlate_gov_Winter-Health-ChallengeImage: Winter Health Challenge from ChooseMyPlate.gov (February 2014).

Que hay en su plato- Spanish version of What's on My Plate from ChooseMyPlateFrom there, you can navigate to ChooseMyPlate.gov (or buy the What’s on Your Plate?: Choose My Plate -English Language Version or the Spanish language version, Que Hay en Su Plato?: Mi Plato) which contains helpful advice on what to eat.  No matter your circumstance – college student, vegetarian, pregnant – you’ll find great tips on nutrition and some helpful recipes.

OK, nutritional standards have been established.  Now let’s move on to physical training.  Depending on your sport preference, you’ll need to exercise specific muscles – for example, cross-country skiing requires a well-developed abdomen, arms, and lower back, while snowboarding needs a strong core and shoulders.  Health.gov is a good place to start, as it provides general information on both nutrition and activity.  It provides a helpful link to Let’s Move!, a well-known initiative supported by First Lady Michelle Obama that encourages physical activity.  The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition has a fantastic site loaded with activity and nutrition tips.  If you’d like all your information in one publication, try the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans; if you’re more a visual person, check out some videos .  All these resources are useful tools to get you in shape – or at least keep you towing the line on your fitness New Year’s resolutions.

First-Lady-Michelle-Obama-White-House-lawn-Lets-move-kidsImage: First Lady Michelle Obama exercising with kids on the White House lawn for the Let’s Move! initiative. Source: White House

Getting to the Games

Apply-for-US-passport-State-DepartmentYou’ve trained and you’ve been keeping excellent eating habits – you’re now ready to get to the games, whether as an athlete or a spectator!  (Hey, it takes a lot of climbing to get to your seat in an Olympic stadium.)   Besides the United States, the Olympics have been held in some beautiful and exotic places – London, Beijing, Athens,  Vancouver, and Torino.  If traveling out of your home country, be sure to check if any vaccinations are required.  Also check for any travel alerts.  Do you have a current passport?  Need a visa to travel to the host country? These convenient U.S. State Department sites will guide you.

world_factbook_12-13After taking care of logistics, spend some time reading up on the host nation.  The World FactBook updated annually by the CIA (you can also buy the World Factbook print edition complete with wall maps) and the Library of Congress Country Studies series (many also available in print from our Foreign Country Studies collection) are two excellent resources to help guide you through your host country.  And this handy worldwide wireless guide from the Federal Communications Commission will help you figure out how to use your phone while traveling abroad!

How can I get these publications?

  • Click on the Links: For the free resources, click on the links above in the blog post.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library. (Librarians: You can find the records for most of these titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.)
  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy any of the eBooks or print publications mentioned above—with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.
  • Order by Phone: You may also order print editions mentioned in this blog post by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions mentioned in this blog post by visiting GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the Author: Valerie Furino is a Supervisory Librarian for the Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division.


Getting to Know the Presidents from the Intelligence Community’s Perspective

February 10, 2014

Presidents Day originated as a holiday to celebrate George Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. As a result of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968, the holiday was changed to the third Monday in February. While the holiday commemorates  George Washington, it also honors Abraham Lincoln whose birthday is ten days before Washington’s on February 12th. Consequently, Presidents Day always falls between the two birthdays. Let’s also give a shout out to two other Presidents whose birthdays fall in February – Ronald Reagan’s birthday on February 6th and William Henry Harrison on February 9th.

In recent years, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been declassifying documents and releasing historical collections giving the public access to fascinating and relatively unknown U.S. history. These collections have been made available through GPO’s bookstore and have been the topic of previous blog posts.

In honor of Presidents Day, Government Book Talk is taking a look at two recent books published by the CIA focusing on the relationship between Presidents and the intelligence community.

Crafting the U.S. Intelligence Community

Crafting an Intelligence Community-Papers of the First-4-DCIs ISBN 9780160920523The CIA’s predecessor, the Central Intelligence Group, was created after World War II in response to the success and usefulness of intelligence gathering during the war. The booklet and accompanying DVD Crafting an Intelligence Community: Papers of the First Four DCIs looks at the first Directors of Central Intelligence (DCI) and their relationships with President Truman and Congress during the initial years of the newly created intelligence agency during the transition from wartime to peacetime. History buffs and President Truman enthusiasts will particularly enjoy pouring through the 800 recently declassified documents from the DCIs from 1946-1953 that are found on the DVD.

The CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence and CIA Historical Collections Division describe this multimedia publication:

Admiral Sidney W. Souers, General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter and General William Bedell Smith accepted President Harry S. Truman’s challenge to craft an intelligence organization.  Each man marked his tenure with his unique brand of leadership that provided his successor with the foundation needed for the next step toward the Central Intelligence Agency of today.

 The Crafting of an Intelligence Community collection of 800+ Agency documents along with 600 supplemental items shows the day-by-day activities, decisions, staff meetings and contacts that confronted each DCI.  They ran the gamut of choosing a secretary to responding to a Presidential question to an evening social event with various ambassadors and dignitaries.

Briefing the Presidential Candidates and Presidents-Elect

CIA Getting To Know the President: Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2004 ISBN 9781929667192Getting To Know the President: Intelligence Briefings of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2004 (Book and DVD) or in Audio Book version was recently featured in the Washington Post for being the federal government’s first downloadable audio book available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). The book is an historical account of the information sharing process between the intelligence community and Presidential candidates and Presidents-elect during campaigns and administration transitions.  The early chapters when this practice was not yet well-established provide the greatest insight to the briefing process.

It starts with the transition periods from the Dwight D. Eisenhower to Harry Truman administration through the candidate and Presidential briefings of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, ending with President George W. Bush.

An interesting anecdote from the book occurs during the period leading up to the 1960 election when then-Vice President Richard Nixon was running against then-Senator John F. Kennedy. At the time, there were concerns regarding the intelligence briefings on Cuba and the U.S.’s policy towards the Castro government. The recent revolution in Cuba that led to a Soviet-supported communist government was a hot topic during the election and the Presidential debates. Since Nixon was running for President while serving as Vice President, he was privy to information on the covert actions that had been underway in Cuba during the Eisenhower administration. Vice President Nixon raised concerns over what information was shared with Kennedy by the DCI Allen Dulles and how it could affect Kennedy’s positions during the election and the success of the covert actions. This was the first time the CIA was part of a political campaign raising questions on which topics and to what extent Presidential candidates should be briefed.

Here is an excerpt from the book detailing this fascinating controversy:

Well before the Cuba liberation issue came to a head in October, the outgoing Eisenhower administration had realized that covert action planning on Cuba could be a political bombshell. Following one of Allen Dulles’s briefings of the National Security Council in early August, for example, the vice president pulled the DCI aside to ask him whether Kennedy and his running mate, Senator Lyndon Johnson, were being provided information on covert action projects, specifically those related to Cuba. Dulles gave a carefully crafted answer to the effect that Kennedy was being told a little but not too much. According to former Agency officials familiar with the exchange, Nixon reacted strongly to Dulles’s reply, saying, “Don’t tell [Kennedy] anything. That could be dangerous.”

In his own account of these events, published in 1962, Nixon charged that Kennedy, before the election of 1960, had knowledge of covert action planning “for the eventual purpose of supporting an invasion of Cuba itself.” This charge prompted a formal press release from the White House on 20 March 1962 denying that Kennedy had been told of any plans for “supporting an invasion of Cuba” before the election. The White House denial was backed up by Dulles, by then a former DCI, who explained that Nixon’s comments were apparently based on a misunderstanding of what was included in the briefings he had given Kennedy.

Senator-Kennedy-DCI-DullesImage from “Getting to Know the Presidents”: Senator Kennedy with former DCI Allen Dulles heading to a press briefing on the information the CIA provided Kennedy and Johnson. Source: White House

Celebrate Presidents Day and get to know the Presidents from the intelligence community’s perspective with these new CIA publications or any of the publications found in the GPO Bookstore’s Presidential History collection, which also includes the popular Public Papers of the Presidents collection.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS?

About the author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs. 

Additional images and content provided by Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


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