| »

Tribal Governance,

Karenne Wood

Understanding the complex nature of relationships between American Indian tribal governments, states, and the federal government is essential. American Indians possess a unique status in the U.S. because their nations exist within but predate the…

Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services,

Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services

How does the government help individuals who might have trouble making it on their own? The Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services aims to help people with disabilities gain independence, so that they can live, work, or go to school. This website offers a window into the way government helps individuals, with an extensive index of articles that show concrete examples of government actions. These include downloadable press releases relating to gubernatorial initiatives, charts, meeting minutes, and much more.

Virginia State Police,

Virginia Department of State Police

The Virginia State Police website offers information about police initiatives to improve public safety throughout the Commonwealth. Website visitors can see the ways the public can access these initiatives, including public safety tips and annual vehicle safety inspections. Police are also subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the website offers directions for requesting information. Overall, the Virginia State Police portal deals with ways the public and public safety officers interact with each other, which is a prime example of government in action.

Virginia Department of Health,

Virginia Department of Health

The Virginia Department of Health has a comprehensive website with information on health-related issues ranging from disease outbreaks to restaurant inspections. Ever wondered why you have to get all those pesky shots before going to school? The Virginia Department of Health deals with issues that affect everyone, and its website shows the ways government influences our lives every day.

Secretary of Finance,

Secretary of Finance

This website outlines the way the Secretary of Finance implements Virginia’s budget, in cooperation with the Governor, legislature, and other departments. One important aspect of the website is Agency Information, which shows how the Secretary of Finance connects with other financial departments. A News section offers press releasees about the Governor’s financial policies. While brief, the Secretary of Finance website shows the interconnectedness of government offices.

Where Does My Money Go?,

Auditor of Public Accounts

This website is a user-friendly database of information about the state budget, as well as demographic information about different localities. On the main page, a pie chart provides a breakdown of the top ten appropriations in 2007. Users can search for information about how much local governments received in appropriations, how many driver’s licenses were issued in each locality, and comparisons between budgets for different localities. Each data set is available in excel format, in case users want to create their own graphs or another analysis of it. This website is extremely easy to navigate, and offers a wealth of information about Virginia’s budget.

Political Activity for Public Servants (Hatch Act),

U.S. Office of Special Counsel

These Hatch Act guidelines outline the legal restrictions placed on government employees’ involvement in political activities. This website is aimed at state, federal, and local government officials, and it offers a window into potentially problematic areas of government. How may state and federal officials participate in political campaigns? When does it become a conflict of interest? These questions and more could form the basis of a classroom discussion or a research project.

Virginia Campaign Finance Website,

Virginia State Board of Elections

This website offers government-mandated disclosure information for campaign finance contributions to candidates for Virginia state and local elections. Members of the public can view sometimes-surprising information about who made large contributions to Virginia candidates and political committees. PACs range from the Cigar Association of Virginia to the Virginia Taxicab Association. This website raises questions about the role of PACs and campaign finance, and can lead to discussions of these issues.

U.S. Census Educational Resources,

U.S. Census Bureau

This website from the U.S. Census Bureau has a series of educational materials related to use of the U.S. Census, including maps, community involvement, and data (in pdf format). There are also lesson plans for each section (in ASCII format) that offer guides on how to use these materials in the classroom. State Facts also offers a page on Virginia with more unusual data, such as the number of amusement parks. This website offers a window into how the Census works, and gives ideas on how that data might be used in government decision-making processes.