The Top Twenty Essential US Government Web Sites

The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the U.S. federal government. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall. Though it has never been the geographic center of the federal district, the Capitol is the origin by which the quadrants of the District are divided and the city was planned. The National Mall is a national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The National Park Service (NPS) administers the National Mall, which is part of its National Mall and Memorial Parks unit.
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There are hundreds of thousands of US government and government-related Web sites online today, and it can be overwhelming (to say the least!) to find what you're looking for. In this article, we'll go through the top United States government sites that you need to know about; the sites that consistently offer the best user experience, helping you to find what you need quickly, easily, and efficiently.

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USA.gov

USA.gov

USA.gov serves as the public's access portal into the vast resources available on the Web from the U.S. government.

Find out more about USA.gov in this profile titled USA.gov.

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The Library of Congress

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the nation's largest repository of culture, as well as the largest functioning library in the entire world. If you're looking for manuscripts, files, information, or even images and videos, this is one of the best places to start your search.

 

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Congress.gov

Congress.gov is where you can find federal legislation information.

The Congress.gov website is where you can find federal legislation freely available for the general public. There is also information about current and past congressional members and the bills that have been or are before Congress. Additionally, this website retains information about the U.S. legal system and legal data. 

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Federal Depository Library System

U.S. Government Publishing Office

From the Articles of Confederation to a Statistical Abstract of the United States, if you're looking for an American historical document, you'll probably find it here at the Federal Depository Library System. You'll also be able to access Government information published by the U.S. Congress, Federal agencies and the Federal courts from this site.

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Ben's Guide to US Government for Kids

Ben's Guide to Government for Kids

Ben's Guide is an excellent introduction to the US government. According to the website it's design to "provide learning tools for K-12 students, parents, and teachers. These resources will teach how our government works, the use of the primary source materials of GPO Access, and how one can use GPO Access to carry out their civic responsibilities." 

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Healthfinder.gov

Healthfinder.gov

 Healthfinder.gov is one of the best places to find government-related health and human services information on the Web. Over 1500 health-related organizations are represented here.

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National Center for Health Statstics Vital Records

National Center for Health Statistics

If you are wondering how to obtain vital records, then the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is the best place to start. Every state is represented here, with detailed information on how to go about getting what you need.

Related: Looking to do a free public records search on the Web? We've put together a top ten list of where to find the best free public record search databases online, from obituaries to census records: Top Ten Free Public Records Search Picks.

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Whitehouse.gov

Whitehouse.gov provides the latest information on the current president's agenda.

Whitehouse.gov not only gives you the latest Presidential news, but you can also find out the President's official stance on a plethora of policy issues, from budget management to national defense. 

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U.S. Census Bureau

U.S. Census Bureau

Want US population info? How about the latest census findings? You can find answers to these questions and a whole lot more at the US Census Bureau.This website is also a good place to find trends in U.S. population and business changes.

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Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook

CIA World Factbook

Find detailed geographical, demographic, and statistical information for every country in the world at the CIA World Factbook - also available in a free download form for easy offline access. 

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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

US Department of Veterans Affairs

If you are a veteran, then you need to put the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website in your bookmarks immediately. You can find information about prescription refills, veterans affairs forms, health care benefits, education resources, and much more.

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Federal Emergency Management Agency

FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website is a great resource for the latest emergency headlines, disaster preparedness, and how to apply for federal or state emergency assistance.

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Internal Revenue Service

IRS

No, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) probably isn't where you want to spend too much of your time, but it's a rich resource of information when you need to find details about filing federal income taxes.

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The United States Postal Service

USPS

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is a wonderful resource; you can print postage and labels online, change your address, stop your mail while you're on vacation, and a whole lot more. 

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is a treasure trove for weather junkies or anyone else who wants to stay on top of weather happenings, as well as oceanic research and new aquatic developments.

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The National Archives

National Archives

Research your genealogical history, delve into historical topics, and view historical documents and photos of all kinds at the National Archives.

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Social Security Online

Social Security

Need to apply for social security benefits? Replace your Medicare card? How about plan your retirement, qualify for disability, or get help with name changes? You can do all these things and more at Social Security Online.

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U.S. Geological Survey

USGS

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is one of the most interesting sites on the Web: "As an unbiased, multi-disciplinary science organization that focuses on biology, geography, geology, geospatial information, and water, we are dedicated to the timely, relevant, and impartial study of the landscape, our natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten us."

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State Government Information

As part of the Library of Congress, you can find information on your state government agencies.

Find links to state government here at the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room's list of state government resources.You can also access the National Conference of State Legislatures to learn more about legislation affecting your state.

Another resource to State (and local) government information is State & Local Government on the Net.

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Local Government Information

Use the Local Government finder on USA.gov to locate your city and county government offices.

Though technically a part of the USA.gov website, you can use the Local Government finder to find information about your local government, including city and county websites, links to specific information (such as driver's license requirements), and news relevant to that municipality.